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News Release
FOR RELEASE - January 9, 2012
Contact: Aaron Ellis-AAPA / Bill Hensel-Port of Houston,
(703) 706-4714 / (713) 670-2893

American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033

AAPA Workshop in Houston to Focus on Effectively Communicating With Community Members and Policymakers

The American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) Public and Government Relations Workshop in Houston, Feb. 28-29, 2012, will examine how communications and government relations practitioners can persuasively articulate the value of seaports to community residents, business leaders and policymakers.  This includes advocating for port authority property development, investments in transportation infrastructure, and programs geared to attract business, create jobs, improve the environment, increase trade and help ensure the success of port projects.

The 1½-day program, hosted by the Port of Houston Authority, will also address ways in which port authorities can communicate with government agencies and legislators at all levels to secure maximum funding and favorable policy decisions to more efficiently move freight and passengers to and through their facilities.

Specific workshop sessions will assess: opportunities to reach out to and engage America’s urban populations; create allies among policymakers and influencers; collaborate with economic development interests; utilize social media; communicate in a crisis; and plan successful community-wide special events.

“With tight budgets and competing priorities at every level of government, it’s vital that the port industry and others engaged in goods movement effectively inform policy makers and the public about the critical role ports and connecting infrastructure play in increasing employment and economic growth,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “Especially in these uncertain times, investing in freight transportation infrastructure in and around seaports is an essential and effective use of limited resources and pays both short- and long-term  dividends in terms of job creation, economic recovery and tax revenues.”

Among the array of experts in transportation policy, government relations and public communications will be keynote speakers Stephen L. Klineberg, Ph.D., who is co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, and Terry Abbott, a former top communications official of the George W. Bush administration and now chairman of his own agency, Drive West Communications.

In addition to Prof. Klineberg and Mr. Abbott, confirmed speakers include (in alphabetical order):

  • Niels Aalund, maritime affairs senior vice president, West Gulf Maritime Association
  • Lisa Ashley, director of corporate communications, Port of Houston Authority
  • Spencer Chambers, director of government relations, Port of Houston Authority
  • Justin Concepcion, social media coordinator, Mayor’s Office of Communications, City of Houston
  • Kay Crouch, president, Crouch Environmental Services, Inc.
  • Marguerite Elicone, manager of media services, Port of San Diego 
  • Sally del Fierro, community relations manager, Port of Seattle
  • Henry A. de La Garza, principal, de la Garza Public Relations Inc.
  • Michelle Hundley, community relations manager, Port of Houston Authority
  • John Jamian, president and chief executive officer, Detroit/Wayne Co. Port Authority
  • Lorianna Kastrop, commissioner, Port of Redwood City
  • Sandra Livingston, vice president of external affairs, Cleveland-Cuyahoga Co. Port Authority
  • Heather Morris, communications & community relations director, Port of Long Beach
  • Paula Musto, public affairs & marketing director, Port of Miami
  • Kurt Nagle, president and chief executive officer, AAPA
  • John Roby, customer service director, Port of Beaumont
  • Manuel Ortiz, public information officer, Port of Brownsville
  • Paula Small, public relations manager, Saint John Port Authority (Canada)
  • Cheryl Solomon, marketing director, Detroit/Wayne Co. Port Authority
  • Pat Younger, executive director, Gulf Ports Association of the Americas
WHO: Sponsored by the American Association of Port Authorities and hosted by the Port of Houston Authority
WHAT: Workshop focusing on communicating the benefits of seaports and connecting freight transportation infrastructure with community members and policymakers
WHEN: Feb. 28-29, 2012 (Day 1, 8:15 a.m. -5:00 p.m.; Day 2, 8:30 a.m.-12:00 noon)
WHERE: The Westin Oaks Houston, 5011 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77056; tel: (713) 960-8100
INFO: More information about AAPA’s Public and Government Relations Workshop is available at (click on the “Programs & Events” tab) or by calling AAPA’s Ed O’Connell at (703) 684-5700
MEDIA: Credentialed media wishing to cover the business sessions of this event are asked to call or email AAPA’s Aaron Ellis (tel: 703-706-4714 / email: in advance to obtain a media badge

About the Port of Houston Authority
The Port of Houston Authority facilitates commerce, navigation and safe waterways promoting sustainable trade and generating economic development for the Houston region, Texas and the nation, while being a model environmental and security steward, and a community-focused and fiscally responsible organization.

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