AAPA Elects Gary G. Nelson as its Next Board Chairman

Gary G. Nelson
Gary G. Nelson

By The Maritime Executive 03-21-2019 04:25:02

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has elected Gary G. Nelson, executive director of  Washington State’s Port of Grays Harbor, to serve as the association’s chairman of the board for the 2019-20 activity year that begins in October.

Nelson will assume the AAPA chairmanship from William D. Friedman, president and chief executive officer for Northeast Ohio’s Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, who began his one-year term on October 10, 2018.

“With his valuable experience as a port director involved with diversified cargo, his international trade background and his longstanding active engagement with AAPA and our member ports throughout the hemisphere, Gary Nelson is an outstanding choice for leading our association during the upcoming activity year,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and chief executive officer. “Gary’s outstanding leadership and business skills, together with his easy-going demeanor, will be of enormous value as our member ports work together to address common challenges and legislative priorities.”

Nelson joined the Port of Grays Harbor in April 2000, bringing with him a strong background of private sector management, particularly in trading wood products throughout the Pacific Rim. His experience working for large publicly-held forest product companies, as well as a small family-held sawmill, resulted in his developing connections and networks in the international trade arena. 

As executive director, Nelson works with port customers, staff, state and federal agencies and the local community to position Grays Harbor as a major hub for international trade and economic development.  During his tenure, the Port of Grays Harbor has experienced exponential growth in cargo shipments, private investments and business activity.

Since joining the port, he’s been active in developing Grays Harbor’s sustainable industry corridor by networking with local business owners to cooperatively address efficiency improvements within the community. He’s also worked to develop the Grays Harbor Jobs Team, an inter-local consortium of local agencies dedicated to providing the infrastructure to support family wage jobs and mutually set project priorities for economic development projects.

A native of Anacortes Wash., Nelson attended the University of Oregon, Willamette University (BA, Environmental Science, 1980) and the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources (MS, Forest Economics and Finance, 1983).