The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a new executive director for the Port of Los Angeles, one of the nation's largest seaports that has been without permanent leadership since late last year.
Gene Seroka, a veteran shipping industry executive, was appointed to the post after winning unanimous approval by the Harbor Board of Commissioners late last week.
Seroka, 49, is head of the commercial division for the Americas region at American President Lines Ltd. APL is the world's seventh-largest ocean carrier and a subsidiary of Neptune Orient Lines, based in Singapore.
He is "a dynamic, seasoned executive with all the right knowledge and skills to seize the opportunities and navigate the challenges of a fiercely competitive industry,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who announced Seroka's nomination in late May.
In his new role, Seroka will oversee a nearly $939-million budget, which includes several improvement projects aimed at keeping the port competitive in the face of the looming $5-billion Panama Canal expansion. Los Angeles officials worry the canal's expansion will divert cargo traffic to ports in the Gulf of Mexico and other ports on the East Coast.
Seroka, through a port spokesman, declined a request for an interview but said in a statement that he is "dedicated to making this powerful engine the most competitive, efficient and sustainable source of prosperity for the benefit of both our region and U.S. international trade.”
The shipping industry executive will replace the port's last permanent leader, Geraldine Knatz, 63, who stepped down in November. Seroka is expected to start in the role in the next month, a port spokesman said.