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News Release
FOR RELEASE - April 1, 2019
Contact: Aaron Ellis, Public Affairs Director,
(703) 684-5700

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

AAPA Elects Gary G. Nelson As Its 2019-20 Board Chairman

Mr. Nelson is executive director of the Port of Grays Harbor, in Washington State

Gary Nelson, Executive Director, Port of Grays Harbor

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)—the unified and recognized voice of seaports in the Americas—has elected Gary G. Nelson, executive director of  Washington State’s Port of Grays Harbor, to serve as the association’s chairman of the board for the 2019-20 activity year that begins in October.

Mr. Nelson is slated to be installed as chairman for a one-year term on the final day of AAPA’s 2019 Annual Convention, set for Oct. 12-15, in Norfolk, Va.  He will assume the AAPA chairmanship from William D. Friedman, president and chief executive officer for Northeast Ohio’s Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, who began his one-year term on Oct. 10, 2018.

“With his valuable experience as a port director involved with diversified cargo, his international trade background, and his longstanding active engagement with AAPA and our member ports throughout the hemisphere, Gary Nelson is an outstanding choice for leading our association during the upcoming activity year,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and chief executive officer. “Gary’s outstanding leadership and business skills, together with his easy-going demeanor, will be of enormous value as our member ports work together to address common challenges and legislative priorities.”

Mr. Nelson joined the Port of Grays Harbor in April 2000, bringing with him a strong background of private sector management, particularly in trading wood products throughout the Pacific Rim.

Mr. Nelson’s experience working for large publicly-held forest product companies, as well as a small family-held sawmill, resulted in his developing connections and networks in the international trade arena.  As executive director, Mr. Nelson works with port customers, staff, state and federal agencies and the local community to position Grays Harbor as a major hub for international trade and economic development.  During his tenure, the Port of Grays Harbor has experienced exponential growth in cargo shipments, private investments and business activity.

Since joining the port, he’s been active in developing Grays Harbor’s sustainable industry corridor by networking with local business owners to cooperatively address efficiency improvements within the community. He’s also worked to develop the Grays Harbor Jobs Team, an inter-local consortium of local agencies dedicated to providing the infrastructure to support family wage jobs and mutually set project priorities for economic development projects.

A native of Anacortes Wash., Mr. Nelson attended the University of Oregon, Willamette University (BA, Environmental Science, 1980) and the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources (MS, Forest Economics and Finance, 1983).

About AAPA
Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents 130 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 200 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. According to 
IHS Markit’s World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2017 totaled 4.303 billion metric tons in volume and US$2.675 trillion in value. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.741 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$1.024 trillion, while North American ports handled 1.90 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.305 trillion. To meet the growing demand for trade, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable.  For more information, visit On Twitter:

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