General FAQ

Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) is the nation’s premier ocean and Great Lakes policy conference that convenes policymakers, scientists, managers, business leaders, conservationists, educators, students, and members of the public to engage in dialogue and debate on significant issues that impact our ocean and Great Lakes and to propose innovative policies and partnerships to address these issues. For more information, please visit the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation website.

The theme of CHOW 2024 is LEADERSHIP. The vision, ambition, innovation, cultures and collaborations of leaders powers the movement to protect our ocean and our blue planet by tearing down systemic inequities, reversing biodiversity loss, and tackling climate change. To tackle these herculean challenges, we must lift up and connect leaders everywhere to drive change, break down barriers, embrace responsibility and service, and build and support diverse alliances and communities.   

 At the heart of this work is people. Global and national ocean protection strategies rely upon coastal communities, traditional and new, but don’t always center them. Leaders in local communities with historical relationships to the ocean, are the frontline responders and most impacted by a changing climate, pollution, and the loss of species. And they will be the ones to turn policy into action and make the solutions we need work.    

CHOW 2024 calls upon leaders from all walks of life to come together to drive attention and innovation to protect our ocean and center people at the core of ocean solutions. Together, we will explore international, national, and local communities and the traditional and new ways they are adapting to a changing climate, saving and protecting species, and sustaining their relationships with the ocean for a brighter, sustainable, and equitable future.  

Anyone interested in supporting CHOW can donate HERE to help us keep the Conference free and open to the public.


There are a variety of sponsorship levels and associated benefits. Please see the CHOW sponsor packet for more information. Space is limited and sponsorships are first-come, first-served. If you are interested, we recommend reaching out as soon as possible to secure your spot.

Space is limited and sponsorships are first-come, first-served. If you are interested, we recommend reaching out as soon as possible to secure your spot. Please contact Peggy Knudson, Vice President of Development, at [email protected]

If you, your company, or your nonprofit organization is interested in sponsoring CHOW, please contact Peggy Knudson, Vice President of Development, as soon as possible at [email protected] Please also feel free to get a head start on securing your sponsorship by filling out a sponsorship pledge form.

There are four primary ways to pay for CHOW sponsorship: Online using a credit card, by mail with a check, through a wire transfer, or via an ACH payment.

To pay for your CHOW sponsorship online using a credit card, please:

  1. Fill out a pledge form.
  2. Complete your sponsorship payment according to the sponsorship level indicated on your pledge form.
  3. Look out for email communications from the Foundation and our staff to help you begin making the most of your sponsorship benefits!

Please allow the Foundation up to one full business week to initially reach out regarding your sponsorship benefits activation.

If you’d prefer to pay for your CHOW sponsorship via either check, wire transfer, of ACH payment, please:

  1. Fill out a pledge form – and make sure to select “Please Invoice Me” at the bottom of the form.
  2. Look out for an email from Laurie VanBenschoten, Development Manager, containing your invoice. Please allow at least three full business days to receive your invoice. Our team is working hard to process all pledge forms and sponsor requests in a timely manner.
  3. Send your sponsorship payment using your preferred payment method, as indicated on your custom invoice.

The Sponsor Hub exists to allow sponsors to manage their benefits and Gala attendance more independently and allows the Foundation to easily manage sponsor relationships and benefits accurately and efficiently. The Foundation relies on the Sponsor Hub to collect important information from sponsors, including but not limited to benefits selections and Gala guest lists, to host general information and promotional resources for sponsors, and to anticipate and answer sponsors’ questions and concerns regarding the Conference and Ocean Awards Gala. Use of the Sponsor Hub by sponsors at all levels is highly encouraged by the Foundation. Without the utilization of the Sponsor Hub by all sponsors, Foundation staff response time greatly increases.

No. As a nonprofit organization itself, the Foundation cannot offer discounted sponsorship levels for other nonprofit organizations. However, in the past, there have been several instances where coalitions of nonprofit organizations – groups of approximately four to seven nonprofits – have sponsored CHOW as a coalition, thus reducing the cost of sponsorship for each organization in the coalition by splitting the cost and benefits of sponsorship. If your nonprofit is a member of a coalition that may be interested in sponsoring as a group, please see the CHOW Group Sponsorship Guidelines for more information.

The Foundation offers group sponsorships at the Advocate level and above ONLY. Group sponsorships are only available for organizations, they are not available for groups of individuals and cannot exceed ten (10) organizations. You will be responsible for identifying a single point of contact for the group. Please see the CHOW Group Sponsorship Guidelines for more information. If you are interested in submitting a group sponsorship, please contact Peggy Knudson, Vice President of Development, at [email protected] and Laurie VanBenschoten, Development Manager, at [email protected] for more information.


June 5, 2024 and June 6, 2024

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20004

Main plenaries are held in the Ampitheater.

Check back soon for the 2024 conference agenda!


CHOW is free and open to the public. The Ronald Reagan Building offers ample space for many Conference attendees.

Yes. Registration is required for anyone attending as guests during CHOW Conference days. CHOW registration is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in attending as a guest can register HERE or onsite at the check-in desk upon arrival. It is highly recommended that attendees register online in advance of the conference so you will only need to check-in onsite.

No, it is not necessary for you to register staff or volunteers who will be manning your company or organization’s exhibit booth at the Conference. Booth staffers will simply need to check-in at the registration booth upon arrival and are required to always wear their nametags in a visible manner while staffing an exhibit booth.

To view a full list of Capitol Hill Ocean Week sponsors, please visit www.capitolhilloceanweek.org.

We are grateful to our CHOW Advisory Committee, sponsors, and partners who represent organizations from across the diversity of the ocean community that all help contribute to our conference agenda. The goal of CHOW is to build bridges and convene different perspectives in an open forumAll speakers are encouraged to speak openly about the panel’s topics, share their expertise and leadership, and their comments are not pre-vetted in any way. 

Ocean Awards Gala

Tuesday June 4, 2024, at 6:00 pm ET.

Union Station

50 Massachusetts Ave NE

Washington, DC 20002

The dress code for the Ocean Awards Gala is black tie optional. Check out photos from last year’s gala for inspiration here.

Check back soon for the 2024 gala program!

Union Station offers a selection of entrée options to accommodate guests with food allergies. If you or someone in your party has a food allergy or needs meal accommodation, please note this with your Gala invitee names and contact information, which you will provide in the Sponsor Hub.

Our Ocean Awards Gala has become a staple of Capitol Hill Ocean Week and as a result, space is extremely limited.

Sponsors can have 8 guests at their Ocean Awards Gala table.

You are responsible for inviting your guests (except for elected officials, who will be invited by the Foundation for ethical reasons) to sit at your table.

The Sponsor Hub is where you will enter the names of your confirmed guests so that the Foundation can enter your guests into our system prior to check-in. The Foundation does not extend invitations to private citizens on behalf of sponsors.

If you are interested in inviting elected officials to sit at your Gala table, please contact Shannon Colbert, Senior Vice President of External Affairs, at [email protected] to work collaboratively with the Foundation on these sensitive invites and RSVPs.

You must provide the Foundation with a completed guest list for your table no later than May 15, 2024 to allow the Foundation and its event staff adequate time to develop a thoughtful seating chart.

No, guests you are bringing to the table you’ve paid for with your sponsorship will not be required to purchase their own tickets to the Gala, as your sponsorship has already paid for the seats at your table.

The Ocean Awards Gala has become a staple of CHOW. Due to its popularity, and limited space at the venue, we are offering a limited amount of individual ticket sales.

However, the top fundraiser in our CHOW peer-to-peer fundraising campaign challenge will win a pair of tickets to the Gala and will be able to network with the who’s who of ocean and marine conservation. To enter, you must create a personal fundraising page and raise the most money.

You will need to follow up with your invited guests. Once they have confirmed, you can add them to your guest list in the Sponsor Hub. Your RSVP list is editable and can be adjusted as much as you need. The deadline for RSVPs to this year’s Ocean Awards Gala is May 15, 2024.

No. For ethical reasons, the Foundation, as the host, must extend all invitations to elected government officials and their staff. Sponsors are not allowed to send invitations on the Foundation’s behalf.Please let the Foundation know if you’d like specific Members of Congress, Administration officials, or Hill staffers added to the invite list and we will extend the invitation. Email these names and their contact information directly to Shannon Colbert, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at [email protected].

Some Members of Congress, Administration officials, and Hill staffers may be requested by multiple sponsors. If an invitation has already been extended by the Foundation, please express your interest in having them join your table and your request will be handled during the seating chart process . We will do our best to accommodate requests but please note that requesting a specific Member of Congress or Administration official to be seated at your table is NOT a guarantee. The Foundation has to balance various sponsor requests to coordinate seating. We will, however, do our best to inform you if the individual has RSVP’d so you can make plans to network throughout the evening.

We have made a commitment as a fundraising organization not to share or sell contact or mailing lists of any kind. However, we do link out to sponsor websites through their logo display on the CHOW website and encourage our participants to visit sponsor sites.

No. As a nonprofit organization itself, the Foundation cannot offer discounted tickets or tables. 

RSVPs must be received no later than May 15, 2024. We ask that you and your guests commit to attending the Gala if an RSVP has been submitted. However, we recognize that last-minute changes can happen and adjustments may be necessary. If you have last-minute changes to your guest list in the days or hours immediately preceding the Gala, please reach out to Laurie VanBenschoten, Development Manager, at [email protected].

No. Our raffle, like the CHOW Conference and the silent auction, is open to the public. You do not need to be present at the Gala to purchase a raffle ticket or bid on an auction item. However, you must be present in the room to receive any accompanying collateral. If you win the raffle and are not present in the room, you will be responsible for all shipping costs associated with the transport and delivery of the raffle item. Foundation staff will be in touch following the event to coordinate.

The raffle winner will be announced following the conclusion of the Ocean Awards Gala program. If the winner is not present in the room, Foundation staff will be in touch to coordinate item pickup or shipping. The winner is responsible for all shipping costs associated with the transport and delivery of the item. Please be sure to enter valid contact information when purchasing your raffle ticket(s).

No, there will be no physical Gala tickets distributed. Guests will check-in at registration and then proceed to the reception area. The Foundation relies heavily on accurate RSVP information from sponsors so please ensure that all of your guest information is entered into the Sponsor Hub prior to May 15, 2024.

Parking and valet will be available at Union Station. Check back soon for this information.