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About Us


Steve Vanderplas

Harkcon Academy Instructor


Steve Vanderplas is a well-regarded writer, speaker and leader with expertise in strategic and executive communication, strategic planning, and promoting positive workplace climates.


In his career as a Coast Guard officer, Steve was often entrusted with communicating the service’s key strategic messages. The speeches, op-eds, and articles he wrote as special assistant to the commandant were instrumental in building consensus for the long-term renewal of the Coast Guard’s ship and aircraft fleets. His work was featured in military professional journals and popular outlets like the Washington Post and Vital Speeches of the Day.


He was the Coast Guard’s chief of public affairs during Hurricane Katrina. His strategic and tactical oversight of media operations led to overwhelmingly positive coverage of Coast Guard relief efforts and public acceptance of the Coast Guard admiral installed to replace the deposed lead federal official. He successfully directed Coast Guard communications and media posture through other operational and political crises, including the wreck of the Selandang Ayu in the Aleutian Islands and the Dubai Ports World port security controversy.


Steve also has broad experience in command and operations. As second in command over the Coast Guard's Eastern Caribbean forces, he oversaw counter-drug, search and rescue, and migrant interdiction operations while also defining new security missions undertaken after 9/11. He held key positions in unified commands responding to regional floods, ship collisions, port closures and other emergencies. He served at sea in various capacities including law enforcement boarding team leader and was the most distinguished graduate of Maritime Law Enforcement School.


While commanding officer of the Coast Guard Recruiting Command, he led a nationwide team of 400 recruiters to deliver record production, quality and diversity through strategic brand re-positioning and internal programs to promote recruiter professionalism, pride, and integrity.


After retiring from the Coast Guard, he led contract teams providing the Coast Guard with web content and design, internal communication products, communication planning, and executive support. He is the owner and managing principal of Slow Learner Press, a startup publishing company.


Steve holds a bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis with majors in classics and history, a master's degree in English from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and a master's degree in business administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was a military fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He taught writing, speaking and communications at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, LeTourneau University, and San Jacinto College.

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