Port of Oakland in LGBT First

Port of Oakland's Board of Port Commissioners

By The Maritime Executive 2016-08-13 20:37:53

Michael Colbruno was recently elected President of the Port of Oakland’s Board of Port Commissioners, the first openly “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender” (LGBT) Oakland Port Commissioner to lead the board. 

Colbruno co-founded the U.S.’s first LGBT Port affinity group with San Francisco Port Commissioner Leslie Katz and San Diego Port Commissioner Bob Nelson, which focuses on making California ports safe and welcoming workplaces for LGBT people. Both Katz and Nelson served as presidents of their respective Port boards last year.

Colbruno, the former two-term member and past chair of the Oakland Planning Commission, was chosen unanimously by the seven-member Board.

“The Port of Oakland is the main cog in the Bay Area’s economic engine and prides itself in its commitment to the community and promotion of diversity,” said Colbruno. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of President Hamlin and to work with top-notch staff who have made the seaport and airport such a vital part of the Bay Area.”

Colbruno joined the Board of Port Commissioners in 2013. He has been a key staff person for leading Bay Area elected officials, having served as San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and Chief-of-Staff to Carole Migden at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the California State Assembly, where he also staffed her on the Assembly Select Committee on Ports.

In 2014, the Port of Oakland hosted the California Association of Port Authorities (CAPA) LGBT Diversity Group in order to promote greater awareness and discuss inclusion of issues affecting LGBT employees within California’s ports.

In July 2013, the CAPA Advisory Group in Sacramento, California voted unanimously to recognize the LGBT Port community as an official CAPA affinity group as part of its goal of being a diverse and inclusive organization. The first meeting of LGBT port officials took place in September 2013 in San Francisco and included 30 representatives from eleven California ports.

Since 2006, the Port of Oakland has had an employee Gay-Straight Alliance, and in 2007 Port employees marched for the first time in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade.


Colbruno is currently a partner in the Milo Group of California, a public affairs firm, and managing member of Iris Outdoor, a billboard advertising firm.

From 1999-2010, Colbruno served as Vice President of Government Affairs for Clear Channel Outdoor/Northern California. Prior to joining Clear Channel, Colbruno worked in local and state government as a legislative director and chief-of-staff in the San Francisco Mayor's office, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and California State Legislature.

Throughout his extensive career in public affairs, Colbruno has overseen legislative activities and intergovernmental advocacy initiatives, media relations, and community affairs throughout the Bay Area.

Colbruno was appointed by three successive Oakland mayors to serve on the City's Planning Commission, and during his tenure was selected to oversee the City's rezoning effort. In addition to this prior public service, Colbruno has served as chair of the Chabot Space & Science Center and chair/founder of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Corporate Counsel.

Colbruno is currently a board member of the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco and the Berkeley Music Group, which is renovating the UC Berkeley Theater. He was named the "Corporate Citizen of the Year" by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.