By Mark Edward Nero
Tay Yoshitani, who has served as the Port of Seattle’s CEO for nearly seven years, is stepping down from the position when his current contract expires at the end of June, he confirmed during the port commission’s Jan. 7 meeting.
“I’m not going to give my exit speech yet because I’m going to be here for another six months and I look forward to using those six months to work closely with the Commission,” he said.
Yoshitani has been chief executive officer of the Port of Seattle since March 2007. He’s the former chief executive of both the Maryland Port Administration and the Port of Oakland and was also previously the deputy executive director with the Port of Los Angeles.
Born in Japan, Yoshitani is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, a Vietnam veteran and holds a master’s in business administration from Harvard University.
The Port Commission announced during the meeting that an international search would be conducted for Yoshitani’s replacement.
“Tay continues to be a leader on issues central to the success of ports across North America,” Commissioner Tom Albro said. “We thank him for his years of valuable service in Seattle, as well as his work to promote international trade and advance the success of maritime and aviation industries.”
Yoshitani is expected to continue to serve as chairman of the board of the American Association of Port Authorities, an unpaid position to which he was elected in March 2013 and assumed last fall. The AAPA, headquartered outside Washington, DC, is a trade group representing about 160 ports in the Western Hemisphere. It advances its members’ interests through public advocacy and professional development.
Yoshitani’s relations with the harbor board were strained in the fall of 2012, when he was the subject of an ethics probe by Port of Seattle commissioners after he joined the board of a for-profit logistics company, Expeditors Intl.
In the role, he stood to earn more than $230,000 in annual compensation – consisting of $30,000 in cash and up to $200,000 in restricted stock options – on top of the nearly $367,000 a year he was earning at the port.
An investigation found no conflict of interest or violations of law because the logistics company doesn’t compete with, or conduct business directly with, the port.