Port of San Diego CEO Placed on Administrative Leave

Port of San Diego
Port of San Diego has a major cruise port as well as breakbulk and Ro-Ro cargo (file photo)

Published Jul 14, 2023 9:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

The executive director for the Port of San Diego, the governing body for the unified ports covering 34 miles of the southern California coastline, has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately. Port officials declined to provide additional details on the nature of the ongoing situation citing confidentiality concerns. Late today, it was announced that  Randa Coniglio, who had served as leader of the port between 2015 and 2021, would resume her role appointed as Acting President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port of San Diego.

Media reports from San Diego said that Joe Stuyvesant, who was named to the post at the beginning of 2021, was placed on leave “pending an internal investigation.” Port officials confirmed the development, telling reporters that two other port executives, Jason Giffen, Vice President of Planning & Environment, and Job Nelson, Vice President of Strategy & Policy, had been overseeing the operations of the agency since Stuyvesant’s leave began on July 11.

The board of the agency was also called into a special session meeting today, Friday, July 14 in a closed session. According to the public agenda, they were meeting to appoint an acting CEO. The agenda also included a second item to meet with legal counsel to discuss “anticipated litigation,” but as the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, it is unclear whether the legal action is related to the change in executive leadership.

According to the port’s website, Stuyvesant joined the Port of San Diego after a long career with the U.S. Navy. Before joining the port, he was the executive director of Navy Region Southwest in San Diego, California, where he was focused on the Navy’s regional operations. During his time in the Navy, Stuyvesant served as a staff officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, and commander, Al Asad Air Base Command Group, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Joining the Port of San Diego during the pandemic, he helped to lead the rebuilding of the operations. The port was restored to financial stability. The agency is a non-taxing entity and is self-funding through the operation of the coastal area which includes recreation areas, commercial businesses, and private marinas in the five cities along the coast as well as the commercial port in San Diego. The port of San Diego is also home to a large navy base and various supporting industries, including Austal, which has been expanding its operations.

While not a major container port, San Diego is a large port for handling breakbulk, dry and liquid cargo, and California’s produce industry. The National City Marine Terminal at the southern end of San Diego Bay is one of the largest Ro-Ro terminals in the United States. The terminal is operated by Pasha Automotive Services and serves as the primary port of entry for one out of every 10 new foreign cars shipped to the United States. San Diego has also grown into a large cruise homeport used by major cruise lines such as Holland America, Princess Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line.

“Our primary focus continues to be on the seamless continuation of our services and the welfare of our employees and stakeholders," said Danielle Moore, Acting Chair, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners announcing the selection of Coniglio to lead the port. "As Acting President and CEO, she will provide continuity of operations and ensure stability for our organization, constituents and businesses during this period.”

Randa Coniglio was the first woman CEO/President of the Port of San Diego. She joined the port in 2000 as senior real estate asset manager, holding advancing positions over the next 15 years. During her tenure as the port's CEO, she led the efforts to revitalize the Seaport Village, the bayfront retail and entertainment center, and other modernization efforts including the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.