Eric ffitch
Eric ffitch
Eric ffitch

WPPA Hires Port of Seattle’s ffitch  as New Executive Director

The Washington Public Ports Association has hired Port of Seattle Government Relations Manager Eric ffitch as its new executive director, the WPPA announced in December.

Currently, ffitch oversees the port’s Washington state government advocacy efforts in Olympia, among other responsibilities.

He has more than 13 years of experience in federal and state government relations, according to the WPPA, and has worked as Congressional staff for former Rep. Jay Inslee, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Sen. Maria Cantwell.

While in Sen. Cantwell’s office, he served as a lead staff member on the passage of a freight transportation package in the 2015 federal highway bill and gained a significant understanding of Washington ports.

ffitch is succeeding Patsy Martin, who has served as interim executive director for the association since June of 2022. Martin was expected to remain on staff until Jan. 31, to assist with the transition.

“PNWA congratulates Eric and wishes him the best in his new role,” the association said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with the WPPA team under his leadership.”  

Nicolas Jimenez

Jimenez Named New Pres.,  CEO of BC Ferries

The British Columbia Ferry Services Board in mid-January announced the appointment of Nicolas Jimenez as president and chief executive officer of BC Ferries, effective March 6.

Jimenez, currently president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC), was selected following an international search, according to the Ferry Services Board.

Over the last 20 years, Jimenez has held a number of senior roles at ICBC, taking over as president and CEO five years ago. He led structural reforms at ICBC in recent years, returning the auto insurer to financial health and delivering more affordable insurance to customers, according to the Ferry Services Board.

He has a master’s degree in Public Administration from both Harvard University and the University of Victoria as well as a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wilfrid Laurier University.

“Nicolas Jimenez is the right leader at the right time for BC Ferries,” BC Ferries Board Chair Joy MacPhail said in a statement. “He is a change leader with a proven track record of success. He is customer focused with a deep commitment to financial accountability and rate affordability.”

Interim CEO Jill Sharland, who stepped into the role in July, is expected to return to her previous position as vice president and chief financial officer at BC Ferries.

“BC Ferries is facing a series of challenges including staffing shortages, service interruptions and fleet revitalization,” MacPhail said. “Nicolas Jimenez is no stranger to big challenges, and I know he will bring fresh ideas, innovative solutions and a renewed focus on the customer experience.” 

Peter Roney

Roney Joins Shared Ice Services

Freeland, Wash.-based Shared Ice Services has named a new member of its executive management team, whose role will to be to support Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and Everett Ship Repair. Peter Roney has joined SIS as its sales and marketing director.

Shared Ice Services is a subsidiary of Ice Cap Holding LLC—the parent company of Ice Floe, LLC doing business as Nichols Brothers Boat Builders—and Everett Ship Repair. SIS was recently established to support the operations of the two shipyards.

“With recent expansion at both NBBB and ESR and a growing shipyard portfolio, we are excited to announce Pete Roney’s addition to our executive management team,” said Gavin Higgins, CEO of both Nichols Brothers and Everett. “It is with great pleasure that I welcome him to our shipyard family and challenge him to support our growth.”

Roney, who joined the company in December, is responsible for business development and customer relations. Prior to joining NBBB and ESR, he began his career as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, which led him to Foss Maritime in 2005. He climbed the ranks, starting as a deckhand, and after reaching captain, decided to take a shoreside position. He further developed his professional and operations career for eight years, holding various positions in operations, project management and business development.

“I am looking forward to serving the shipyard needs of the region’s operators and am excited about offering a shipyard services model where both NBBB and ESR can contribute their expertise and vast capabilities on a common project,” Roney said.  

Forrest Ray

Manson Construction Names Ray Health, Safety Director

Seattle-based Manson Construction in mid-January announced Forrest Ray as the company’s new Director of Environmental Health and Safety, effective Jan. 1.

Ray joined Manson in 2011 as a civil construction field engineer fresh out of Georgia Southern University where he studied construction management. He later transferred to the dredging group, joining projects such as the JAXPORT maintenance dredging project in Jacksonville, Florida and the Craney Island Eastward Expansion project in Norfolk, Virginia.

Ray, who moved into a safety specialist role in 2014, said he believes that good communication on a routine basis is key to implementing safety measures and improving safety culture.

“Hearing from various people in the field is invaluable and really helps us hone in on how we can help improve our safety program and make it work for all of our employees,” he said, adding that his initial objective is to garner feedback from staff on Manson’s safety program that are working well, as well as opportunities for improvement.

“I want everyone at Manson to have a positive and proactive safety experience with a continuous and open conversation,” he said.

Ray takes over for Dave Howard who is retiring this spring. Howard is expected to assist in the transition through his last day on March 7.  

Sam Cho

Port of Seattle Commission Elects Historic Slate of Officers

The Port of Seattle has made history with the elevation of Commission President Sam Cho, the first president of color for the panel, as well as the youngest president in the port’s 111-year history.

Additionally, the port also made history, elevating the first female vice president of Asian descent, commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa. This marks the first time both of the port commission’s top officers are of Asian descent.

Commissioner Fred Felleman was chosen to serve as secretary.

Toshiko Hasegawa

“I am honored and humbled to begin my term as Port of Seattle commission president,” Cho said. “Thanks to the work of this commission, the port staff, major stakeholders and everyday community members, we are making real progress on making your port more efficient, sustainable and a greater source of economic opportunity. I look forward to continuing our momentum in this work during my presidency.”

“This is a milestone moment for the port,” Hasegawa said. “Last year we centered policy discussions around people and made historic investments in our aviation and maritime gateways, communities and the environment. This year, we are ready to accelerate our rate of progress together.”

The new slate of officers for 2023 arrives at a time when the port is scaling up work in response to increased regional need. Seattle’s 2023-2027 five-year capital plan is the largest in port history, providing funds to modernize the city’s airport and maritime facilities, as well as expanding economic development and sustainability efforts across King County and the state.  

Fred Felleman

Seattle Port Commissioner Named To U.S. Travel, Tourism Board

Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman has been appointed to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB), U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced Jan. 12. The board includes 32 leaders from businesses and organizations in the domestic travel and tourism industry.

Members advise the secretary on how government policies and programs affect the travel and tourism industry and offer counsel on current and emerging issues to support sustainable industry growth.

Felleman has been a vocal advocate for the Port of Seattle’s role as a regional and national tourism leader, particularly in developing ecotourism opportunities in and around Washington state. He’s the founder of the Port Commission’s Tourism Committee and has been a leader in restoring statewide destination marketing in Washington after the closure of the Washington State Tourism office in 2011.

He has a background as a marine biologist and environmental policy consultant.

“I am very grateful to Secretary Raimondo for recognizing the critical role the Port of Seattle continues to play in helping the state of Washington develop as a tourism destination,” Felleman said. “I look forward to bringing my experience to expand partnerships with fellow board members to ensure that tourism brings equitable economic opportunities that advance responsible recreation, sustainability and respect for diverse cultures.”  

Bill Dutra (left) and
Harry Stewart

Dutra Group Names Stewart Ceo, Bill Dutra Executive Chair

San Francisco Bay Area-based civil marine contractor The Dutra Group named Harry K. Stewart as its chief executive officer in early January. Bill T. Dutra, who had led the company since its founding, has moved into the role of executive chairman.

Stewart, who previously held the position of Chief Operating Officer at Dutra, assumed his new role as the company celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Dutra, who founded the company at age 26, is recognizable by the trademark Borsalino and Stetson hats he wears in tribute to his grandfather, Antone Dutra. Over five decades, he has turned Dutra Group into a diverse, nationwide dredging and marine construction company.

Stewart joined Dutra in 1983 and held various roles over the next 40 years. He assumed his new role at a time when the company’s markets are strong, with particularly strong demand for marine infrastructure work of all types and record levels of federal funding available to support that work.

As executive chairman, Bill Dutra is expected to remain involved in building the vision for the company, including strategic planning and building the capital resources necessary for its long-term growth. That growth would enable the company to continue to play a role in the repair and replacement of the nation’s infrastructure, which the federal government has said is a top priority.

“I am looking forward to continuing to carry on the legacy of my father and grandfather by focusing on strategic actions that, along with the leadership of Harry Stewart, will let The Dutra Group advance our leadership in this industry,” Bill Dutra said. 

Michael Shepard

Shepard Named Port of Bellingham Board President

Port of Bellingham Commissioner Michael Shepard will lead the three-member Board of Commissioners as its president for 2023, the agency announced Jan. 3.

Shepard, who represents District 1’s South Whatcom County, is a Research Associate at Western Washington University’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies and an adjunct lecturer teaching environmental studies, anthropology and cultural sustainability at Goucher College, a private liberal arts school, according to his bio.

He is a trustee for the Kulshan Community Land Trust and has worked on a broad range of issues important to the Port of Bellingham including workforce development, marine resource management and affordable housing, his bio states.

Commissioner Bobby Briscoe will serve as board vice president, while Ken Bell will serve as board secretary.