Duluth Seaway Port Authority Names New Executive Director


By The Maritime Executive 08-15-2018 11:15:53

A woman will be at the helm of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority (DSPA) for the first time in the organization’s 60-plus year history. The DSPA board held a special meeting August 13 and unanimously appointed  Deb DeLuca as executive director. 

DeLuca has served as the Port Authority’s government and environmental affairs director since 2014 where she has been tracking regulatory issues and legislation for DSPA, the Port of Duluth-Superior and the Great Lakes-Seaway system. In that role, she represented the Port’s interests to policymakers at local, state and federal levels of government and to environmental, economic development and community development organizations. 

She currently chairs the Harbor Technical Advisory Committee (HTAC) for the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council, serves on the Executive Committee of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce and represents the Port Authority on the Mayor’s Economic Development Coalition. Earlier this year, she was one of just 36 civilians selected to participate in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a public liaison program of the U.S. Department of Defense.

In directing brownfield assessment and cleanup efforts to support the Port Authority’s industrial development program, DeLuca has been responsible for procuring a portfolio of grant funds matched to Port Authority needs. Most recently, she spearheaded a comprehensive study through the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City to analyze and benchmark Duluth's industrial economy, focusing on its potential to drive diversified economic growth across the community. A final report and key findings will be presented to the community this fall. 

A noted expert on redevelopment projects and environmental policy, DeLuca was a founding board member of Minnesota Brownfields. As owner and principal of DeLuca Strategies for 14 years prior to joining the Port Authority, she provided consulting services to public, private and nonprofit sector clients in the arenas of grant writing, implementation of funding strategies, project management, government relations and public outreach. 

She began her career at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture after which worked with the MPCA, becoming supervisor of its Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup Program in 1996. A graduate of UW-Madison, DeLuca earned a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology and a master's in land resources (environmental chemistry and policy) from the UW Institute for Environmental Studies. She is an outdoors enthusiast and former U.S. national cycling team member. DeLuca and her husband, Eric Dott, have lived in Duluth since 2006 and have two college-aged children.

Port Authority Board President Ray Klosowski said: “Staff and board members appreciate her thoroughness, her leadership style and her profound commitment not only to the mission of this organization but also to the well-being of our entire Port community.”

In accepting the position, DeLuca becomes the eighth executive director in Duluth Seaway Port Authority history, following in the footsteps of former directors: Robert T. Smith (1957-67), David W. Oberlin (1967-69), C. Thomas Burke (1969-77), Paul Pella (1977-79), Davis Helberg (1979-2003), Adolph N. Ojard (2003-13) and Vanta E. Coda II (2013-18). Since Coda’s departure in February, CFO Kevin Beardsley has served as interim executive director.