Port of Seattle, ferries get new leaders

Lynne Griffith, the CEO of Pierce (County) Transit, has been selected by Lynn Peterson, Washington’s transportation secretary, as the new head of Washington State Ferries. She will replace David Moseley, who retired in April. Moseley had been in charge of the state’s ferries for about six years.  Capt. George Capacci, interim director, had applied for the job but withdrew. He is expected to return to his former position, deputy chief of operations and construction.

Griffith, 64, will be the first woman to lead the ferries system. She has no background in maritime but has worked in public transportation for about 35 years. Her salary will be $145,000. Darrel Bryan, president of Victoria Clipper and a member of the state’s search committee, told the Seattle Times, “They’re not paying enough to get people in the maritime industry itself to step forward.” Bryan also said it will be important that she and Capacci work well together.

Meanwhile, the Port of Seattle has also selected its new leader, Ted J. Fick, 55, to succeed Tay Yoshitani, who is retiring after seven years at the helm.

Like Griffith, Fick will be an inbreaker when it comes to maritime. His background is in manufacturing management, including his family’s company, Fick Foundry, 17 years at the Kenworth truck division of Paccar and about 10 years as CEO of Polar Corp., a tank-trailer manufacturer in Minnesota.  His salary will be $350,000 a year.

Both leaders will have to dive into troubled waters. The ferry system has been beleaguered with personnel and equipment problems, and the port has been losing ground to Tacoma on the maritime side. There is even talk with combining the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.  But at least SeaTac airport, which Seattle operates, is thriving.

I wish them both well and look forward to watching them learn the ropes.

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

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