The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) today announced that Mike Leone, director of the Port of Boston, has been named Chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). The 90-year old association is the principle voice for more than 150 public port authorities in the US, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Leone was officially named at the organization's annual convention in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.
"Mike Leone is extremely well respected by his colleagues in the port industry," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA President. "Mike has led our association's task force on port security, the industry's top priority, and was unanimously elected to be Chairman of the Board by port officials throughout the Western Hemisphere. We look forward to his leadership in these challenging times."
"I have known Mike Leone for many years. I can think of no one who represents the interests of commercial port operators better than Mike. He is a true leader within the maritime community in Boston and a excellent partner in managing many of our joint concerns," said US Coast Guard Capt. Brian M. Salerno, Captain of the Port of Boston.
Admiral Richard Larrabee, Director of the Port of New York/New Jersey, said he was "very pleased at Mike's appointment. He is well liked and understands the industry. He'll bring a practical approach to making AAPA work for all of us. I couldn't be happier."
A graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy and George Washington University Law School, Leone came to Massport from the Coast Guard after a 22-year career as regional counsel for Northeast commands and as a military judge. After serving as acting port director and as chief legal counsel to Massport's maritime division, Leone was appointed port director five years ago.
As director of the Port of Boston during a dynamic period, Leone has seen the implementation of terminal optimization, a $60 million harbor dredging project, the emergence of Boston into one of the top cruise ports in North America, more than $50 million in port infrastructure investments, vital new shipping service and the inauguration of direct connections to Asian ports that have tripled the pace of trade through Boston.
"In Boston, Massport operates terminals. Most large ports are simply landlords," said Tim Farrell, deputy director of the Port of Tacoma. "They build terminals and lease them to steamship lines who operate them for themselves. But Mike and his staff are deeply engaged in the day-to-day operations of the port so they know the concerns and desires of their customers. As a leader of the AAPA Mike brings a customer perspective to the entire organization."
As he begins his term as AAPA chairman, Leone said the top priorities facing the nation's ports are increasing capacity, securing trade routes and finding the funding necessary for these priorities.
"Seaports have not yet received nearly the amount of government funding that other facilities have," said Leone. "There have been some grants, but they have been quite small compared to what is needed to further secure our maritime border."
In the next year, Leone said, there will be focused efforts to increase government funding for port security. US ports are already investing more than $1 billion a year to handle an expected doubling of trade volume. At the same time, new security measures required by the International Maritime Organization and the federal Marine Transportation Security Act are expected to cost the industry more than $1 billion.
Despite a sluggish economy, growth in trade, especially exports, has been good, according to Leone. He is concerned about over-burdening ports with security costs that could stifle trade.
"Expanding capacity and securing port facilities puts a significant financial burden on ports," said Leone. "Since all US ports will be seeking financial assistance from the federal government, we must work together with our industry partners to find solutions."
"Port security is an essential element of our national defense. And to help this healthy segment of our economy grow in a secure manner, our trade association must work with the Administration and Congress to find ways to fund these necessary improvements," he added.