The Port of Portland has a new executive director.
Curtis Robinhold, the port's current deputy executive director, was chosen by the seven-member commission that oversees port operations on Tuesday. He will succeed Bill Wyatt, who has directed the port since 2001 and is retiring at the end of the month.
"Curtis has the leadership skills and business accumen we need going forward," says Commission President Jim Carter.
Robinhold was chosen over two other finalists for the job recommended by an advisory group. His first day in the new job will be July 1.
The commission interviewed all three before making their decision. The other finalists were Jonathan Daniels, executive director and CEO, of the Mississippi State Port Authority, and Stephanie Dawson, CEO of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Although Portland has a long history of shipping and harbor-related employment, the current port was created by the 1970 Oregon Legislature and includes all of Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. The commission is appointed by the Oregon governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Designated areas of activity are aviation, maritime trade, and land development.
The port currently operates the Portland International Airport, the Hillsboro Airport and the Troutdale Airport. It also maintains four marine terminals and is the developer of the Portland International center, which includes Cascade Station, and the Rivergate, Swan Island, Troutdale Reynolds Gresham Vista industrial parks. Millions of passengers and billions of dollars of goods pass through its facilities every year.
Robinhold faces several immediate challenges. The Portland airport is undergoing a $248 million expansion known as PDXNext that must be properly managed to minimize travel disruptions, including cargo flights. The container docks at Terminal 6 have been idle since shipping firms stopped serving them during a labor dispute that prompted its operator to leave. Union activists are pressing the commission to require employees to pay all airport workers $15 an hour. And the port is expected pay millions of dollars to finance its share of the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup. The exact amount and its funding source have not yet been determined.
The port has also strained relations with environmental groups and the City of Portland, especially over its plan to redevelop West Hayden Island as a marine terminal. The City Council rejected the plan when it updated the Comprehensive Plan that guides future development last year.
Carter says all of those challenges are high priorities that must be addressed and resolved soon.
"With his experiences in the public and private sector, Curtis has the skills to meet our challenges, all wrapped up in a likeable personality," says Carter.
Before coming to the port, both Wyatt and Robinhold served as chiefs of staff to former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.That led some to speculate Robinhold was Wyatt's hand-picked successor. But Carter said he was the most qualified of the three finalists.
Wyatt currently earns $418,419 a year and the annual salary range for his successor is posted at $303,000 to $530,000.
The job search was conducted by McDermott and Bull, a California-based executive recruiting firm. The advisory group that screened the job applicants included Colas Construction President and COO Andrew Colas, Oregon Environmental Council Executive Director Andrea Durbin, Bambuza Hospitality Group President Katherine Lam, former Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary John Mohlis, and port commissioners Michael Alexander, Bob Levy, Patricia McDonald and Tom Tsuruta.