Port of Port Angeles eyes three finalists for top job

Numbers 9, 10 and 22 are stepping up to the plate.

Pending background checks, the candidates for Port of Port Angeles executive director will visit Clallam County the last week of April to meet port staff and the public — and have their identities revealed.

Commissioners decided when they started their search for Executive Director Karen Goschen’s replacement to not disclose applicants’ names until commissioners selected finalists, which they did on April 13.

Goschen announced Dec. 28 that she will resign when a new director is hired. She has been working part-time.

At their meeting last week, commissioners Steven Burke, Connie Beauvais and Colleen McAleer narrowed the field to three applicants, all of whom commissioners have interviewed remotely.

Following Goschen’s announcement, McAleer had said the board would seek gender and racial diversity.

Only white males made the cut, but females and people of color were among the 27 applicants, and some were interviewed, McAleer said on April 14.

“Their qualifications were not anywhere near what we needed,” she said.

“They just weren’t a good fit. I mean, we tried. Traditionally, it’s been a male-dominated field.”

Gig Harbor consultant Jeannie Beckett, who is facilitating the job search, told commissioners at their meeting the position was advertised by the American Association of Port Authorities, Washington Public Ports Association and LinkedIn.

Beckett said April 14 that the position also was posted on alldiversity.com, hispanicdiversity.com, disabilityconnect.com, veteransconnect.com, lgbtconnect.com, all operated by workplace diversity.com.

“I did follow up and made sure we posted to a pretty large variety of websites,” Beckett said.

“I would say most of my clients don’t.”

Commissioner Connie Beauvais said last week the commissioners extended the application deadline to draw in more candidates.

“The couple of people at the top for me have such broad knowledge and experience, and it doesn’t matter to me if they were quadriplegic, they were still at the top of my list,” she said.

Beauvais is looking for several qualities in the new port director.

“It’s being a good leader in a really small port that has huge potential,” she said.

“I am looking for someone with business development skills that can help move our marine trades industry forward.”

The salary range for the position is $144,000 to $170,000. Goschen’s salary is $170,000.

The executive director will oversee an operating budget that in 2021 is $8.4 million and a port staff of fewer than 50 employees.

Burke said the port’s unranked priorities for 2021 are environmental cleanup efforts, bringing commercial passenger air service to William R. Fairchild International Airport and working with other agencies.

He said the three finalists have lived in the Pacific Northwest or are moving to the area regardless of the job.

“They have, in general, port-marine experience, either with a port or economic development organization that deals with maritime-port kinds of assets,” he said.

“I am looking for someone who is willing to be challenged by the variety of the business lines that we have and is a listener, someone who listens well to the community, listens to the staff and kind of sees where we are at and kind of goes from there,” Burke said.

“We need someone who is good at promoting the assets of the port to drum up employment and business that comes to our community.”

McAleer citing “business development skills” as her top requirement for a new executive director.

“We have all this vacant property and a 100,000-square-foot building is vacant,” she said.

“We really need to grow our jobs and port revenues, and we have a lot of amazing assets. We need to ensure they are fully utilized by businesses that pay well and that would hire our underemployed and unemployed here.”

Once a new executive director is hired, Goschen will continue in a part-time capacity in a position that will not likely be filled once she retires, Burke said last week.

Burke said commissioners have put on hold Goschen’s draft job description so the new director can provide input before it’s finalized.

He expects Goschen will work about 20-30 hours a week on environmental and legislative issues and some human resources issues.

“We may take some of that away or add something to it, depending on the skill set of the (new) executive director and what they bring in,” Burke said.

The position is “going to have a life span,” Burke said.

“When she decides to fully retire, I don’t see us finding someone else for that position.

“I foresee that position, as long as it is working well, that position lasting through the conclusion of the significant portion of our environmental cleanup efforts, like the Western Harbor.”

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