AAPA Embarks on Path Back to the Future

By Chris Connor, President & CEO, American Association of Port Authorities

As you are probably aware, AAPA sold its building in Alexandria and we have now fully vacated the premises as of October 23. It was quite an undertaking to clear out; it has been the Association’s home since 1984, and you can just imagine the amount of ‘stuff’ we accumulated and saved over 36 years.

The AAPA team, under the direction of Meredith Martino, did a terrific job in man-aging the exit. All statutory documents and relevant historical artifacts have been digitalized for safekeeping, while an enormous amount of non-essential collateral material and other documents were shredded.

We held onto some furnishings in order to bring them into the new office, but candidly much of what we had was in poor condition. So we gifted it to outside agencies or disposed of it.

Many members of the AAPA staff gathered for a socially distanced farewell party in the parking lot of 1010 Duke St. in the late afternoon of October 23. Many a story was told, no doubt in a bittersweet reflection of all the history of our proud industry that had, at least in part, transpired there.

Now it’s onward and upward (literally) as we await our projected March 1 move in date to our new office located on the eighth floor at 1201 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. We are very excited about our new location, which is only minutes away from Capitol Hill and strategically located on the driving route between Reagan (DCA) Airport and ‘The Hill.’ Moreover, our new footprint in D.C. includes visiting office space to accommodate members when you are in town. It is “Back to the Future’ in that prior to moving to Alexandria in 1984, AAPA was located in D.C.

Other Milestones

Long time staffers Ed O’Connell and Aaron Ellis have announced their retirements, and both will leave AAPA effective 12/31/20. Ed and Aaron have been integral parts of AAPA operations for many years and will be sorely missed. I have worked closely with both men over this last year, and have been amazed and impressed by their steadfast loyalty and dedication to AAPA and its members. Please join me in wishing both Ed and Aaron every success on their journey into retirement.

AAPA’s Emergency Relief Fund has experienced robust support from a number of port and private individual donations over the last few months. At the same time, we’ve been able to get money into the hands of about 40 port employees whose lives were seriously impacted by the wrath of storms this hurricane season. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

As announced last month, AAPA has re-organized senior staff roles and responsibilities. Changes made have improved accountability, eliminated redundant work and overlapping responsibilities, strengthened financial oversight, and positioned the Association for accelerated growth in membership, sponsorship and federal grant administration opportunities.

ACCELerate – AAPA’s new workforce development initiative – was formally launched during the virtual convention in late September. Activity has been ramping up quickly with over 260 apprentices enrolled along with 10 member ports/companies. This Department of Labor funded program provides grant money to eligible ports and companies as part of DOL’s “Closing the Skills Gap” initiative.

As we await the start of the 117th Congress, and the swearing in of a new Administration, AAPA is still very much focused on pushing through some of our key advocacy initiatives during the lame duck session through year-end. Top of list in this regard are: passage of WRDA 2020 inclusive of AAPA’s remaining pillars; passage of MTSERA (Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act) creating a permanent mechanism for Congress to appropriate emergency relief funds to the Maritime industry, including ports; and passage of the House proposed THUD appropriations levels – including the ‘epic’ $1B special appropriation for the PIDP program.

My personal best wishes to you and yours for a safe and healthy holiday season, and a prosperous New Year.

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