Kathy Rawls serves as Director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. Rawls began her career with the Division in 1990 as a river herring technician. Her skill as a manager and her uncanny ability to connect with stakeholders ultimately led to her promotion to District Manager in the Elizabeth City District Office. In 2014, she moved to the Division Headquarters in Morehead City where she led the Division’s Fisheries Management Section until she was named Division Director in 2021.
In addition to her experience in fisheries management, Rawls brings a life-long love of fishing and marine biology to the job. She attributes her love for fishing and interest in marine biology to her parents. She was born and raised on a family farm in Windsor, North Carolina. She recalls while growing up taking frequent trips to the coast with her parents. Her dad was responsible for catching the fish (his success at this continues to be hit or miss even today) and she and her mom would dissect the fish to see what they had been eating. With this background, Rawls knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a marine biologist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1989.
Rawls continues to enjoy spending time with her family and friends fishing, going to the beach, camping, and riding 4-wheelers on the family farm.
Michael S. Loeffler has been with the Division for 23 years, mostly working out of the Elizabeth City Office. Loeffler began his career with the Division as a fisheries technician on the Striped Bass Independent Gill Net crew fishing gill nets in the Albemarle Sound.
He held this position for 3 years before advancing to a biologist position where he started a program collecting data to prepare Fishery Management Plans for the perch and catfish fisheries. His species responsibilities evolved over time to include Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, spotted seatrout, weakfish, and coastal sharks. He also spent seven years as the lead southern flounder biologist. Loeffler was instrumental in coordinating the development of the Division’s multi-species tagging program because of his experience with conventional, acoustic, and satellite tagging. Loeffler was promoted to biologist supervisor for the Manteo Field Office in February 2022. He became the Division’s deputy director in January 2023.
Loeffler’s love for water became evident when, as a small child, he ran his baby walker down a boat ramp and ended up upside down in a lake. That love grew as he spent summers sailing around Lake Huron with his parents and siblings on their 37-foot sailboat. The crystal-clear water and the history of shipwrecks spawned an interest in scuba diving which opened his eyes to the wonder of fish in their natural habitats. Loeffler attended Texas A & M University to obtain a B.S. in Marine Biology and learn everything he could about this fascinating environment.
When he is not working, Loeffler spends as much time as possible outdoors grilling, hiking, camping, swimming, boating, and landscaping with his wife, three teenage children, friends, and other family. At other times, he’s planning for the next deer, duck, or turkey hunt and rigging boats and gear for future fishing adventures.