Port Commission considers panel members for executive director candidate interviews


The Port of Olympia Commission discussed possible panel members to interview the final candidates for the executive director position at its meeting yesterday.

Cliff Moore, a consultant from Prothman Consulting, told the commission that the panel will provide its feedback to the commission, which will also interview the candidates and ultimately decide whom to hire.  Moore said he would advise the panel members not to rank the candidates but to highlight their strengths and concerns.

The panel will consist of several community members representing the port’s various interests, according to the consultant. 

Commissioners said they want a representative from the union, the business community, and someone to provide an environmental perspective. They also want one executive-level and one non-director staff member to be part of the panel and one representative of the port’s citizen advisory committee.

To represent the union, the commission plans to invite Dan Musser, a marine terminal foreman and a member of ILWU Local 47A (International Longshore & Warehouse Union).  

To represent the business community, the port plans to invite Michael Cade, the executive director of Thurston Economic Development Council, and David Schaffert, president of Thurston County Chamber, and hopes to seat one of them on the panel.  

Joel Hansen, the chair of the port’s citizens advisory committee, will also be invited as requested by the committee itself.

The commission is looking to invite a representative of the Squaxin Island Tribe to advocate for environmental concerns. As an alternative, Commissioner Jasmine Vasavada suggested Ann Larson from the Washington Department of Enterprise Services, which is leading the planned restoration of the Deschutes Estuary.

Diverse representation

Vasavada highlighted the need for a more diverse representation as most of the people brought up at that point were white men.

“Right now, we have probably four white men on this panel based on the four positions we’ve talked through, so I think it would be pretty nice also to think about balancing with representation,” Vasavada said.

Commissioner Amy Evans Harding said they could modify the panel by having an additional member if it becomes too homogenous.

The commission deferred their pick for the executive-level director and non-director staff member until they meet for an executive session on Monday, January 22.

They considered several staff members such as Warren Hendrickson, director of operations; Shawn Gilbertson, director of environment and planning programs; Ben McDonald, human resources and administrative director; Camille St. Onge, strategic initiatives and commission affairs director; and Clarita Mattox, real estate senior manager.

City representatives

The commission considered having representatives from Olympia, Tumwater, Lacey and other cities in the county but was concerned that it would inflate the size of the panel. Having only one representative for the different jurisdictions also risked leaving out the other cities.

Moore reminded the committee that they will be having a reception on February 5 where city, county, and tribal officials could be invited to interact with the final candidates and submit to port staff their written comments about them.  

Moore also advised the committee to wait until the next day to receive more information about the applicants before finalizing the panel members.  

Moore said that if the commission narrows the list of final candidates to five people, they could complete the final interviews within an entire day on February 6. 

The commission also discussed how they would select the questions for the candidates.

Each commissioner would submit to Moore ten questions they would like to be asked. Moore would compile these questions, eliminate overlapping topics, refine the language used, and present them during the executive session on January 22. 

Moore said the port received 34 applications, 16 of which met the minimum qualifications. Moore said he has interviewed only 15 applicants, as one withdrew their application before the initial interviews.  


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