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Alumnus Wins Senate Confirmation to Key Transportation Post

(Reprinted in part from The Mason Gazette, July 13, 2006)

Sean Connaughton
Sean Connaughton

George Mason University School of Law alumnus Sean Connaughton (JD '92) was confirmed by the Senate on August 4 to lead the U.S. Maritime Administration. President George W. Bush nominated Connaughton in June to head the agency that has a budget of more than $500 million and a staff of nearly 1,000 people. He is expected to be sworn into office by the end of the month.

Accepting the post, Connaughton leaves a maritime and environmental law practice at the Washington law firm Troutman Sanders LLP and will step down from his position as chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

A 1983 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Connaughton served on active duty in the Coast Guard from 1983 to 1986. After leaving active duty, he briefly worked for a defense contractor in Arlington, Va.

He then returned to the Coast Guard as a civil servant in the Office of Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Protection at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. During this time,Connaughton attended Georgetown University part time and graduated with a master's degree in 1988.

In 1988, Connaughton began working at a trade association representing companies involved in the energy and marine transportation industries. He attended George Mason University School of Law at night and passed the Virginia State Bar in 1992.

Connaughton embarked on a career as a lawyer in private practice specializing in maritime and international law. He and a colleague appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999 to argue a case involving the constitutionality of laws imposed on the marine transportation industry. They won that case in a unanimous decision.

He was elected chairman-at-large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in 1999. He was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2004.

Connaughton is on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the chief elected official of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board, a member of the Board of Directors of the Skillsource Group Inc. of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board, and a member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

In addition, he is a member of the Prince William Campus Advisory Board of George Mason University and the Woodbridge Campus Advisory Board of Northern Virginia Community College.