Director Sam Ruda takes over East Coast’s largest port at time when cargo volumes continue at record levels;
New director tasked with driving continued growth and implementing visionary Port Master Plan, a strategic blueprint to deal with continuing growth over the next 30 years;
Bethann Rooney, a 26-year Port Authority veteran, assumes new role as deputy director with oversight responsibility for overall port operations
The Port Authority announced that Sam Ruda, the Port Department’s interim director for the past five months, has been named its new director. Mr. Ruda – who came to the Port Authority in 2015 after a 29-year career in transportation, including 12 years as part of the senior management team at the Port of Portland – will oversee the pending implementation of the visionary Port Master Plan, a 30-year strategic plan to deal with the port’s growth and record cargo volumes.
“Sam is a consummate professional who brings to the table more than 30 years of transportation experience in shipping, marketing and supply chain logistics,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “His broad background will be a major asset to this agency as we embark on the upcoming transformation of the port facilities to accommodate the continuous record cargo growth they now handle.”
“We are extremely fortunate to appoint an executive with Sam’s leadership, financial and management skills to advance the port’s longstanding reputation as the East Coast’s premier international shipping gateway,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Sam takes over at a pivotal time in the port’s history, and we are confident he will be up to the challenge of positioning the port for the future. We are also thrilled that he will have Bethann Rooney as his deputy, creating a senior leadership of unparalleled strength and creativity.”
In addition to the appointment of a new Director, the Port Authority also announced that Bethann Rooney, a 28-year veteran of the maritime industry, has been named the Port Department’s deputy director. Ms. Rooney will work with Mr. Ruda to direct and oversee the overall operations of the New York and New Jersey port facilities. Ms. Rooney most recently served as Assistant Director responsible for overseeing all policy, planning, legislative and regulatory affairs, environmental sustainability, performance and efficiency matters. She has been the architect and coordinator of the Port’s Council on Port Performance (CPP), the first forum of its kind in the nation that was established as a framework for port constituents to identify challenges to port efficiency and service reliability and develop recommended solutions. She has managed and coordinated port wide efforts to ensure that performance management and quality improvement efforts are developed and managed using a data-driven focus that sets priorities for improvements aligned to ongoing strategic imperatives.
Mr. Ruda and Ms. Rooney take on their new roles in the Port Department during a period when cargo volumes are at an all-time high. Their charge is to continue the strong growth into the future with the Port Authority and its private sector terminal operators joining together to expand the port’s cargo handling capabilities to meet the growing demand. In 2018, the Port of New York and New Jersey handled more than 7 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) for the first time in its history, which dates back to the 1950s. During the first two months of 2019, that record growth is continuing, with new all-time monthly records set in January and February 2019.
To deal with that growth, Mr. Ruda and Ms. Rooney will oversee the implementation of the Port Master Plan, which explores the port’s existing 3,000 acres of cargo facilities to improve operations, and enhance revenue and job creation opportunities. Mr. Ruda and Ms. Rooney also will oversee construction of the final phase of the buildout of the ExpressRail Port Jersey facility, which will complete the port’s rail network and advance the port’s five-year strategic goal to handle more than 900,000 rail lifts a year, the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips on local highways. They also will oversee the ongoing work to complete the Greenville Yard project, which includes a significant upgrade to the NY-NJ Rail operation, which is owned by the Port Authority and operates the growing cross-harbor car float system across the Hudson River. Under the system, freight is loaded on rail cars and the cars are moved by marine rail barge (carfloat) from Greenville to rail yards at 65th Street in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mr. Ruda is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Jersey with an economics degree. In addition to his time at the Port of Portland, he’s also had a 25-year career in the container shipping industry, as well as managing the global supply chain for a Fortune 500 company with extensive Asia-based manufacturing operations.
Ms. Rooney, a 28-year veteran in the maritime industry, began her career as a port captain/ vessel agent for General Steamship Corporation. Since joining the Port Authority in 1993, she has held a series of progressively responsible management positions including Port Operations, Property Management, Intermodal and Technology Planning. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bethann was named the Manager, Port Security a position she held for 14 years, developing and managing a best-in-class port security program.
Ms. Rooney is a graduate of the State University of New York Maritime College with a master’s in international transportation and a bachelor’s in marine transportation with qualifications as a Third Mate. She is also an Accredited Marine Port Executive from the International Association of Maritime and Port Executives.
The Port Authority also announced that Andy Saporito will assume the role of Senior Advisor-Special Projects, reporting to the Port Department Director. Mr. Saporito will be focused on providing guidance and strategic direction on a number of key port initiatives including development opportunities on the MOTBY peninsula, container terminal development, and the completion of the Greenville Yard intermodal rail project.