AAPA Seaports Advisory

Port People: AAPA, Oakland, Philadelphia, Port Angeles

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AAPA’s Aaron Ellis Honored by the Public Relations Society of America

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has elected AAPA Public Affairs Director Aaron Ellis to its College of Fellows.

To qualify for admittance, the public relations practitioner or educator must have at least 20 years of experience, hold the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential and have demonstrated exceptional capability and accomplishment in the practice or teaching of public relations. Fewer than two percent of PRSA members are accepted into the College of Fellows.

Prior to joining AAPA in December 2004, Mr. Ellis served for 13 years as a PIO and maritime media relations manager for the Port of Portland in Oregon. In that role, he provided strategic communications assistance for both the marine and real estate divisions, supervised and/or contributed to three regular publications, developed presentations and special events, and provided public relations counsel to port management. Before that, he served as the public relations specialist for the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry in Portland, and earlier as an account manager for two public relations agencies and a general assignment reporter for three newspapers.

Mr. Ellis holds bachelor's and master’s degrees in Journalism from the University of Oregon and a Professional Development Certificate in Marketing from Portland State University. He has been an active PRSA member since 1989, earned his APR in 1991, and currently serves as a chapter delegate on the board of directors of the PRSA-National Capital Chapter in Washington, D.C.

Aaron Ellis

Port of Oakland Board Elects Michael Colbruno President

Michael Colbruno, a managing partner with the Milo Group of California, has been elected president of the Port of Oakland’s board of commissioners.

He succeeds Commissioner Earl Hamlin who concludes his one-year tenure as president but remains on the board. The board also elected Ces Butner first vice president and Joan Story second vice president.

"The Port of Oakland is the main cog in the Bay Area’s economic engine and prides itself in its commitment to the community and promotion of diversity," said President Colbruno. "I’m grateful for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of President Hamlin and to work with top-notch staff who have made the seaport and airport such a vital part of the Bay Area."

President Colbruno joined the board of port commissioners in 2013. He has been a key staff person for leading Bay Area elected officials, having served as San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and Chief-of-Staff to Carole Migden at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the California State Assembly, where he also staffed her on the Assembly Select Committee on Ports.

President Colbruno becomes the first openly LGBT Oakland Port Commissioner to lead the board. He co-founded the country’s first LGBT Port affinity group with San Francisco Port Commissioner Leslie Katz and San Diego Port Commissioner Bob Nelson, which focuses on making California ports safe and welcoming workplaces for LGBT people.

The Oakland board consists of seven members, each nominated by the mayor and by the City Council for four-year terms. The other commissioners are Joan H, Story, Andreas Cluver, and Arabella Martinez.

Michael Colbruno
Photo/Port of Oakland

Jeff Theobald Named CEO of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority

The board of directors of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) has selected transportation executive Jeff Theobald to be the port authority’s chief executive officer. Mr. Theobald assumes his new duties in August as the successor to James T. McDermott, Jr., who retired in April after 22 years at the port’s helm.

As president and CEO for Ports America Outer Harbor, Mr. Theobald was responsible for a 200-acre container terminal facility in the San Francisco area, which included oversight of 50 management staff and over 200 union employees.  He was responsible for all management functions, including operations, finance, planning, cost improvement, labor, customer relations, health, safety, environment, and contract negotiations. He designed strategic plans for both the commercial account and capital investment sides of the business.

Earlier, as senior vice president of global operations, networks and terminals at APL, Ltd., he played an integral role in the company’s worldwide operations, including negotiations with port authorities, terminal operators, railroads, and labor; port investments; establishment of worldwide shipping routes; oversight of all operational functions; and direct management of more than 150 employees.

He also has worked as a maritime and transportation consultant, advising clients such as McKinsey Consulting, Port of Seattle, and terminal operator DP World.

"Jeff Theobald is a seasoned maritime industry executive with a proven track record," said PRPA Chairman Gerard H. Sweeney. "He has extensive expertise in terminal operations, international supply chains, strategic planning, contract negotiations, and financial control and will prove invaluable in overseeing port growth plans. He has excellent strategic vision and is joining at the right time, as so many projects and initiatives at the Port of Philadelphia are coming to fruition."

Jeff Theobald

Port Angeles Promotes Nutter to Director of Finance

John Nutter, newly promoted to director of finance at the Port of Port Angeles, has assumed the additional responsibilities of port auditor and treasurer.

Mr. Nutter joined the port in February 2015 in the temporary role of finance project manager and was named interim finance director in January 2016. Earlier experience includes several years as finance director for Olympic Medical Center and eight years with the Port Angeles Police Department.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and accounting and a master’s degree in business administration, both from Western Washington University.

"John’s extensive background in finance and community service compliments the Port’s leadership team as they work to meet the Port’s mission of economic development and growth in Clallam County," said Port Executive Director Karen Goschen."


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