Port of Seattle Commission begins search for new Executive Director


The Port of Seattle Commission officially opened its search for an Executive Director to applicants on Thursday (July 27) by posting a job description and announcing the results of an extensive outreach effort seeking input about the critical qualities and attributes for the next Port leader.

The public outreach included a web survey that received more than 500 responses, five employee forums attended by more than 200 employees, and interviews with more than 100 external community leaders and stakeholders, including customers, labor leaders, minority community leaders, environmental leaders, community business leaders, regional community leaders and elected officials. The outreach was carried out by Commissioners, port staff and the executive search firm Herd Freed Hartz of Seattle.

According to a job specification brochure:

“The ideal candidate will be a visionary team leader and culture builder, dedicated to the mission and values of the Port of Seattle. Working closely with the Commissioners and staff, he/she must be committed to a shared goal of achievement through collaborative teamwork. The successful candidate will be a strategic and entrepreneurial executive with a track record of stellar results working in complex organizations, as well as a reputation for forming strong personal and professional relationships. He/She should be aware and effective in complex political environments while respecting the Commission’s political leadership.”

“We value the thoughtful input of our employees and broader community regarding the qualities needed in our next Executive Director,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire.

“We seek a great public servant to lead the Port during this dynamic time to achieve our goals for broadly shared economic opportunity, job creation, environmental sustainability and equity,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman, who along with Commissioner Gregoire is tasked with leading the effort to find a new leader for the Port of Seattle.

The Commission intends to choose an Executive Director by mid- to late fall this year.

Salary range was not mentioned, but former Executive Director Ted Fick was pulling down $350,000. Fick resigned in February amid allegations that the port had illegally offered $4.7 million in non-performance-related payouts to 642 workers.

“The Commission will continue to engage the community and Port workers as we go forward to hire our next leader,” the Port said. “The final decision will be made by members of this Commission, with input from the incoming Commission.”

Survey responses, employee comments and community feedback all stressed that the Executive Director should be a strategic and entrepreneurial leader with a track record of stellar results working in complex organizations, as well as a reputation for forming strong personal and professional relationships. The Commission chose to redefine the position from CEO to Executive Director to emphasize the importance of an established track record that demonstrates the ability to work collaboratively with an elected Commission and responsiveness to community interests in addition to the bottom line.

In concert with the Commission’s leadership, the next Executive Director will form and maintain excellent relationships with internal and external stakeholders through transparency, authenticity, accountability, diversity, equity, inclusion, and effective community engagement.  In partnership with the Commission, the Executive Director serves as a bridge from this unique institution to the wider King County community and beyond.

Priorities for the Executive Director will include effective leadership of the organization as it modernizes and expands Sea-Tac International Airport to meet industry and regional demand, supports the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, worth billions in economic activity, manages the Port’s real estate assets to create economic opportunity for local communities, and further develops a thriving cruise business that handles over one-million revenue passengers a year. The Port also is expanding its leadership in environmental stewardship and workforce development.  The Port of Seattle is an organization of around 1,900 employees with a $1 billion budget, funded mostly through operational revenue.

Interested candidates can download the job specifications brochure (PDF file) or contact Herd Freed Hartz for more information.


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