SSHSA Board of Directors


Don Leavitt, President, has a Bachelor's Degree in American History from the University of Maryland and a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. An avid fan of ocean liner history, that passion translates into professional success with his business Nautiques, an online ship memorabilia seller. Today is one of the most trusted nautical antiques sites in the business. Don sells to customers in all 50 states and around the world. Don and his husband Todd live in a restored Vermont village house that was built just a few years after Cunard first sailed across the Atlantic.

Barry W. Eager, Vice President, of Berlin, Massachusetts, is a local historian, musician and retired teacher. He joined SSHSA in 1973 and is now a lifetime member. In addition to serving on the board, he has contributed many articles to SSHSA publications, and currently authors "Heard on the Fantail" in PowerShips magazine. He is active in local activities in the Town of Berlin, Massachusetts, a member of the cemetery commission and historical commission, and specializes in collecting music and songs having to do with steamboats.

Nicholas Langhart, Vice President and Treasurer, grew up in Ohio and has a passion for maritime heritage and historic architecture. He currently serves as library director at The Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster, Massachusetts. Nick holds a Master's Degree in Historic Preservation from Cornell University. Nick is an instructor for the Evolution of New England Architecture at Fitchburg State and has taught the History of Worcester's Architecture at Clark University and Worcester State University. Prior to serving as a professional library director, he was Property Manager for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now better known as Historic New England. His expertise was instrumental in organizing the SSHSA library at the Ship History Center in 2015.

Dr. Andrew O. Coggins Jr. , Secretary, is an internationally known cruise industry analyst based in New York. Dr. Coggins is a retired U.S. Navy Commander with over twenty-three years of service on seven ships. He has spoken at numerous conferences, and given interviews on issues and trends in the cruise and travel industries. He is also an active member of SKAL International and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), as well as international travel and tourism marketing and networking organizations. He currently teaches courses in cruise industry management at Pace University.

CAPT James Zatwarnicki, Vice President, of Hoboken, New Jersey, graduated from SUNY Maritime College in June, 2002 with a degree in Marine Transportation Management and later earned a Master of Science in International Transportation Management. He holds a license as Master Unlimited Tonnage Upon Oceans and Master of Towing Vessels. Capt. Zatwarnicki actively sailed on his license from June of 2002 until he began working at the US Merchant Marine Academy in April 2018 as an Assistant Professor of Nautical Science. He has sailed on several types of vessels throughout his career including survey vessels, container ships, tugboats, military supply ships, and served as master of the USNS Gordon and USNS Shughart. He is very active with the Sea Scouting program, Boy Scouts of America, and has been affiliated with Ship 228, the Sea Dart II, in Rahway, NJ for 27 years.

Patrick Dacey, Vice President, of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, recently retired as a Lieutenant of County Detectives after spending 30 years in law enforcement. He earned an undergraduate degree from Jersey City State College and a master's degree in human resources, design and training from Seton Hall University. His civilian career includes an extensive background in criminal investigations, narcotics, community outreach, training and counter terrorism with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. In addition, he retired from the reserve component of the United States Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 25 years. He has had a lifelong interest in passenger ships and joined SSHSA in the 1970s as a student member. A veteran of more than 60 voyages and crossings, he is also chairman of the board of the World Ship Society, Port of New York Branch. He is married to Denise and they have one son together, Philip.

Board Members

CAPT Terry Tilton USN (Ret.) grew up on a farm in Iowa, but as a young man he longed for the sea. He attended and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, serving 25 years as a Naval Officer and completing a career qualified to command any ship in the Navy. He collects unique maritime artifacts, including one of the finest collections of ship builder's plates. He is a researcher and author of several feature-length articles in PowerShips, most notably his extensive compilations on companies such as Ingalls Shipbuilding. He is also an active participant as researcher, author, speaker, and officer in the Southern California Chapter of SSHSA.

Dr. Laurence Miller of Miami, Florida, served 25 years as Director of Libraries, Florida International University, before retiring in 2005. Prior to his role at FIU, he began his career as library director at Inter American University of Puerto Rico after studying at Florida State University. Larry is a world traveler and published author.

William H. Miller was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on May 3, 1948. In addition to his teaching career and authorship of more than 40 books, he was chairman of the World Ship Society's Port of New York Branch from 1970 to 1976, deputy director of the New York Harbor Festival Foundation from 1979 to 1982, historian at the Museum of the American Merchant Marine in 1979, and creator of a course entitled "The Ocean Liner" at the New School of Social Research in Manhattan in 1981. He also created the passenger ship database for the Ellis Island Museum and appeared in the documentary SS United States: Lady in Waiting. A documentary about his life and studies, Mr. Ocean Liner, premiered aboard RMS Queen Mary 2 on July 1, 2010.

Darshell Silva of Warwick, Rhode Island, is the Library and Media Specialist for the North Kingstown School District, per course faculty member at the University of Rhode Island, and Education Technology Consultant for various organizations. She holds a Master of Library and Information Studies degree, a School Library Media Specialist Certification, both from the University of Rhode Island, and a Blended Learning Certificate from Roger Williams University. Darshell teaches information literacy, technology instruction, coding, and maker education, among other duties. She has served on many educational organization boards as well as won numerous awards for her excellence in education. She comes from a long line of Cape Verdean stevedores and has worked with SSHSA to incorporate ship history project based learning lessons in her classroom.

Thomas Ragan of Miami, Florida, is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and after a career in international corporate finance as a partner in major U.S. law firms he currently is a partner in his own firm, Ragan & Freeman LLP, based in Lakeville, Connecticut. He is a lifelong lover of ocean travel, having sailed back and forth to Brazil as a child on the Moore-McCormack liners when his father was Chief of the U.S. Naval Mission there. Over the years he has built up an extensive collection of books on merchant shipping. He joined the SSHSA Board in 2013, and has been an active participant, leader and supporter ever since.

CAPT Eric T. Wiberg is an historian and lecturer living in Boston, Massachusetts. A licensed captain by age 25, he has personally sailed more than 75,000 nautical miles on over 100 vessels in some 60 countries since 1987. In addition to a JD in maritime law and a Master's in Marine Affairs, Captain Wiberg has written over 20 books, including "U-Boats in New England" (2019), "U-Boats in the Bahamas" (2016), "U-Boats off Bermuda" (2017), "Round the World in the Wrong Season" (2010), Swan Sinks: SS Cygnet Sunk by Italian Submarine Enrico Tazzoli, San Salvador, Bahamas in World War II (2017), and "Tanker Disasters" (2009). His home page is

Douglas E. Bryan is a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley in Boston, MA with more than 30 years of experience in wealth management. Doug's love of ships began at an early age after hearing stories of ancestors who navigated the globe or commanded ships on the Great Lakes. His passion for ocean liners developed after travelling on the France, QE2 and the Rotterdam with his grandparents. Today, Doug and his wife Leslie continue to enjoy ocean travel.

Doug Tilden began his shipping career as a dock clerk for United States Lines on Pier 76 North River, New York. As Doug likes to tell the story, he took a three-month summer job in shipping and stayed 40 years. With U.S. Lines, Doug moved around the world through positions in Oakland, Guam, Hong Kong, Dubai and Rio De Janeiro. When U.S. Lines ceased trading in 1987, Doug was Vice President, South America. After U.S. Lines, Doug worked for Marine Terminals Corp. for 20 years, leading the company as CEO for 12 years. After his retirement in 2009, Doug has stayed busy as a consultant and as an amateur archaeologist. Doug has excavated in Egypt and Belize and has published several papers on the Maya culture. Doug and his wife, Teresa Keller, share a deep interest in international children's education and both have served on philanthropic boards.

CAPT David Pickering of Warwick, Rhode Island, is the founder of Seamanship and Leadership Training for Youths (S.A.L.T.Y.), a non-profit organization organized in 2014. S.A.L.T.Y. provides sailing adventures aboard traditional sailing ships for Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts and other youth organizations including Gold Star Teens, the sons and daughters of a military parent who gave their life defending our freedoms. In 1984, Dave founded Preventure Corporate Wellness, located in Rhode Island. He and his partners have grown the company from a startup to a multi-million dollar business. Dave retired from Preventure in 2014, and joined the SSHSA Board in 2016. He's a licensed USCG Merchant Marine Officer and an SSHSA CAPTs' Circle member since 2013.

CAPT Eric Takakjian resides in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and is a professional mariner who has been sailing ships and oceangoing tugboats to various corners of the world since 1978. He is currently employed by The Vane Brothers Company aboard an oceangoing tugboat based in New York Harbor. He and his wife Lori both served in the U.S. Coast Guard and formerly owned and operated the research vessel QUEST, conducting oceanographic and shipwreck research in the North East United States and outer continental shelf waters. An avid diver and researcher, CAPT Takakjian has conducted extensive historical research on New England shipwrecks, resulting in the location and exploration of more than 70 previously undiscovered shipwrecks in the waters around New England and outer continental shelf waters. He has been an SSHSA member for over two decades, and volunteers his time cataloging and organizing the ship plans collections at the Ship History Center.

Immediate Past President

Mary L. Payne, Past President, of Wallingford, Pennsylvania, has spent more than 25 years as an experienced consultant for strategic and business planning for health and health-related organizations. She received her Bachelor's Degree from the College of St. Benedict, and her Master's degrees in Business and Social Work from Temple University's School of Business and School of Social Administration. She has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1978 and is also a part of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Additionally, she is certified to conduct accreditation reviews for continuing care retirement communities as part of the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission. Her work has included planning engagements for various services, such as long-term care, ambulatory care, emergency room, medical, surgical, oncology, pediatric, women's and children's, child and family welfare, and AIDS and HIV. She has also conducted training programs in long-term care, staff development program, and management and governance retreats all over the country. Payne was the Senior Manager at the Katz Consulting Group Inc. and Senior Manager at KPMG Peat Marwick's Northeast Region Management Consulting, Strategic Planning Practice. Currently, she has her own consulting firm, Payne & Associates. She wrote A Guide to Memorandum of Understanding: Negotiation and Development for Long-Term Care Management Agencies, which was picked by the Administration on Aging for national distribution to state units. Along with Gerald Katz, Payne authored "Network Formation: Lessons Learned" which was also published in Ambulatory Outreach, the publication of the Society for Ambulatory Care Professionals in Spring 1997.