Chief Executive Officer

BSP Executive Search Job Opportunities Port of San Diego


The Port of San Diego is where San Diego greets the world. Established in 1962 by the California State Legislature, we manage San Diego Bay and 34 miles of its beautiful surrounding waterfront land. We are the fourth largest of the 11 ports in California, overseeing two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 22 public parks, the Harbor Police Department, and the leases of nearly 800 tenant and sub-tenant businesses around San Diego Bay. These include 18 hotels, 80 restaurants, 20 marinas and yacht clubs, three specialty retail centers, the San Diego Convention Center, and numerous other attractions including museums and bay tours. For over 50 years, our five member cities – Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City, and San Diego – have worked together to develop and promote commerce, navigation, recreation, and fisheries on and around San Diego Bay. We are completely self-funded, contributing billions annually to San Diego’s economy, benefiting the community, local businesses, and employees. Businesses at the Port provide over 64,000 well-paying jobs supporting individuals and families throughout the region.


Our Values: we work extremely hard to embed these nine values into who we are and how we operate: accountability, courage, inclusiveness, fairness, fun, innovation, integrity, teamwork, and transparency.

Our 21st Century Port Vision: we are an innovative, global seaport courageously supporting commerce, community, and the environment.

Our Mission: the Port of San Diego will protect the Tidelands Trust resources by providing economic vitality and community benefit through a balanced approach to the maritime industry, tourism, water and land recreation, environmental stewardship, and public safety.

Our Promise: to enrich the relationship people and businesses have with the dynamic waterfront of San Diego Bay, providing prosperity and a more remarkable way of life.


This is an incredible time to join the Port, as we have several exciting new infrastructure projects currently under construction, with many more funded and breaking ground soon. This includes the massive Chula Vista Bayfront Redevelopment, electrification and modernization of the Port’s cargo terminals, the Central Embarcadero Waterfront Development, and major environmental enhancements around the bay. Please visit for a detailed list of current, future, and recently completed projects.

Ports are highly specialized public agencies, and within that subgroup, the Port of San Diego is particularly unique. Given our wide array of services, responsibilities, and revenue streams we are often likened to a small county. We are governed by a seven-member Board of Port Commissioners, representing our five member cities, and providing leadership that transcends local boundaries. Our Commissioners are very engaged in our work and extremely supportive of staff. The CEO will report to the Board of Port Commissioners.



  • Salary – $350,000 – $425,000
  • 9/80 compressed work schedule with every other Friday off
  • Medical, dental, and vision – full family coverage at no cost
  • Life, disability, accident, and critical illness insurance
  • Retirement Plans
  • Social Security
  • PTO: 144 hours of annual leave, 40 hours of unclassified leave, 14 paid holidays
  • Employee assistance program
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Tuition reimbursement and educational services scholarship
  • Wellness reimbursement, on-site wellness center, and car allowance.


This is a hybrid position based at the Port’s Administration Building located at 3165 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101.


The Port of San Diego requires a CEO who leads first through people and culture, recognizing the incredible skills and experience the Port’s team members bring to their work. It is through them that the Port has the capability to undertake the largest projects at any point in the organization’s history, redefining the waterfront and opening it up in new and innovative ways that will dramatically increase access, opportunity, and economic activity.

Indeed, the next CEO will need to be both a diplomat and expert facilitator of those dynamics to bring the Port’s stakeholders together in order to move these big, innovative projects forward. Guided by the Public Trust Doctrine, the CEO must lead in a manner that:

  1. Puts people first.
  2. Is responsive and sensitive to the unique needs and character of the Port’s five-member cities.
  3. Carefully balances the needs of community stakeholders.
  4. Partners effectively with various local, state, and federal agencies.

Reporting to the Board of Port Commissioners, the CEO oversees all Port of San Diego programs, projects, functions, and activities, ensuring adherence to Port, local, state, and Federal regulations. This highly collaborative role works in partnership with the Board of Commissioners and management staff to provide policy guidance and program evaluation, develop and evaluate organizational strategic goals, operating policies, budgeting appropriations, and staffing plans. Accountable for the success of the Port’s team of over 620 staff, the CEO will provide direct supervision to 11 team members: Commissioner Services, Office of the District Clerk, Chief of Harbor Police, VP of Marketing & Communications, VP of Planning & Environment, VP of Strategy & Policy, VP of Administration, VP of Maritime, VP of Business Operations, Chief Engineer, and CFO/Treasurer. While the Port Auditor and General Counsel report to the Board of Commissioners.


  • Provide inspirational leadership built on trust and transparency, both internally and externally.
  • Foster a culture and work environment that empowers and recognizes team members for doing their absolute best work.
  • Advocate for the Port’s interests including at the state and federal levels; ensure the Port tells its story and demonstrates the value and impact the organization brings to the region.
  • Advise the Board on issues, programs, and financial status, and ensure the Board is kept informed of all Port functions and activities; prepare and recommend long and short-term plans for Port service provisions and funding.
  • Represent the Port and the Board in meetings with federal, state, and local government agencies, legal counsel, interest and community groups, various businesses, professional, educational, regulatory, and legislative organizations, contractors, consultants, and the public.
  • Manage preparation of the annual budget; authorize directly or through staff, budget transfers, expenditures, and purchases; provide information regarding the financial condition and needs to the Board.
  • Lead selection, training, professional development, and evaluation of Port staff; oversee the implementation of effective employee relations and engagement programs; provide policy guidance and interpretation to staff.
  • Monitor changes in the operating environment including economic developments, laws, regulations, and technology that may impact Port operations.
  • Respond to the most complex, difficult, and sensitive public inquiries and assist with resolutions and alternative recommendations.
  • Ensure the organization remains in compliance with safety rules, regulations, and protocols.


  • Commitment to public service and the Port’s values of accountability, courage, inclusiveness, fairness, fun, innovation, integrity, teamwork, and transparency.
  • A proactive leader dedicated to fostering a positive and inclusive workplace, with experience leading a large, complex organization, and developing an effective, collaborative, and diverse team.
  • Enjoys “getting out from behind the desk;” manages from the front lines and is highly approachable and accessible; makes community engagement a priority.
  • Exceptional business acumen, including managing large organizations through growth and change, with the ability to plan and act ahead of potential impacts; brings sound risk management skills; politically savvy.
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including strong listening skills and the ability to connect with and inspire a wide range of partners and stakeholders.
  • Proven ability to create lasting and impactful cross-sector relationships/partnerships with a wide array of stakeholders including government, nonprofit, business, philanthropic, military, and community organizations.
  • Strong organizational and prioritization skills with the ability to manage multiple projects/priorities while maintaining vigilant attention to detail.
  • A master facilitator who can bring a diverse array of parties and interests to the table and find creative ways to build agreements.
  • Leadership experience within a public administration setting is highly desirable.
  • Experience working within the California regulatory environment, particularly pertaining to CEQA is also desirable.
  • Flexibility to travel locally and nationally as well as covering evening and weekend events as required.


Sarah Thompson, Senior Director, Blair Search Partners
1855 1st Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101