Port names top three CEO finalists

Camas parks director Trang Lam among those vying to lead Port of Camas-Washougal

timestamp icon
category icon Latest News, News, Port of Camas-Washougal
The Port of Camas-Washougal has named its top three chief executive officer (CEO) finalists: (clockwise from upper right) Port of Columbia County Director Guy Glenn, Washington Public Ports Association Deputy Director Chris Herman, and Camas Parks and Recreation Director Trang Lam. The Port's current CEO, David Ripp, plans to retire in the fall of 2024. (Photos courtesy of the Port of Camas-Washougal)

The Port of Camas-Washougal has named its top three finalists in the search to replace its retiring chief executive officer (CEO) David Ripp.

Port commissioners approved a recommendation from Beckett Group consultant Jeannie Beckett to name three CEO finalists, which include Camas Parks and Recreation Director Trang Lam; Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA) Deputy Director Chris Herman; and the director of the Port of Columbia County in Oregon, Guy Glenn.

Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner Cassi Marshall said the Port had an “excellent pool” of CEO candidates.

“I really appreciate the depth of the pool that we had,” Marshall said. “I think it speaks highly of where the Port is at right now that we had so much interest from such a talented group of people.”

The Port received more than 50 applications for the position, which has been open since March, following Ripp’s announcement that he intended to retire this fall.

Beckett said each finalist will be able to interact with Port staff and stakeholders, tour Port properties and interview with Port commissioners, who are expected to make their final selection this summer during a public meeting.

Port Commissioner John Spencer said the finalists seemed to be excellent candidates.

“I have questions I want to dive into to really get comfortable with them. Big issues for me: Are they going to carry forward our mission and mesh well with the organization’s culture? Do they have a strong and strategic way of thinking? Will they be able to bring this port to another level of performance and impact on the community? And do they have a strong finance background and/or focus to be able to manage the Port’s (assets)?” Spencer said.

Commissioner Larry Keister said the Port is “not replacing David Ripp, who has served the Port so well,” but rather “choosing the next CEO to lead the Port into the next equally successful phase.”

“The Commission has had an extremely good fortune of learning about and meeting and getting to know so many fine people,” Keister said of the CEO search process. “The attributes that I believe are important to the ongoing Port mission are a strong financial background; (that they) understand and support the Commission and the staff’s vision; the ability to move that vision forward; and the ability to be a part of the Port’s team of leadership.”

Port commissioners and Beckett generated a list of qualities they would like the next CEO to have and included them in a recruiting brochure. According to the brochure, the ideal candidate must:

Have strong dynamic leadership skills and the willingness to fully commit to the community, the Port, and its goals;

Strive to leverage local resources to achieve “amazing results” for the community;

Have knowledge of land use property development, including industrial multi-use community-centric development;

Have a strong sense of public service, be dedicated to outstanding customer service and continuous improvement, and be results-driven;

Create a positive and team-oriented working environment, be available to staff, the community and stakeholders, and sincerely solicit and value others’ input, opinions, and suggestions;

Demonstrate a caring customer service attitude, a strong commitment to operational excellence, and the ability to display behaviors and a commitment to the organization’s core values;

And demonstrate a “creative and innovative spirit” by identifying nontraditional ways to generate revenue, invest capital, and maximize the financial potential of the existing Port assets while being highly responsive to the public, the Port tenets, the stakeholders and the staff.

“This is the list of attributes that has guided our process through the Commission interviews of the candidates and their discussions of their impressions from those interviews,” Beckett told the commissioners. “Today, guided by those discussions and the attributes that I just mentioned, my role as a consultant is to bring forth a proposed slate of final candidates who best amplify these traits. I’ve listened earnestly to the interviews, to each commissioner’s comments, and synthesized what I’ve heard and observed against the Commission’s desired leadership traits.”

Lam, who also has experience as an entrepreneur, has worked for more than 20 years in leadership roles at the University of Portland, Portland Parks & Recreation, Prosper Portland, and the city of Camas, where she has led the Camas Parks and Recreation Department since December 2020.

Glenn joined the Port of Columbia County in May 2023. Previously, he served as the general manager for Ecological Land Services in Longview, Washington, and as the finance director and manager for the Port of Ilwaco, according to the Port of Columbia County.

Herman was hired as the WPPA’s senior director of trade and transportation in 2016, and was promoted to his current position in 2022. He has worked in logistics and supply chain management for 20 years, with experience managing supply chain operations, strategy and optimization for companies in a “diverse” group of industries, including agricultural, petrochemical, energy and direct-to-consumer retail, according to the WPPA.

“The candidates all have amazing strengths, but strengths in different areas, so it’s never comparing apples to apples,” Marshall said. “(We’re) trying to match those strengths with the needs of the Port at this time and where we’re looking to go in the near future. That’s going to be a challenge.”