Meet AAPA leadership and staff (2023)

About the AAPA
Founded in 1912, AAPA is considered the unified voice of ports in America. Today, AAPA represents 130 of the top port authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as more than 200 industrial solution providers, supply chain partners, and academics and companies and individuals interested in seaports. AccordinglyIHS Markit World Trade Service, the combined international maritime trade passing through Western Hemisphere ports in 2017 was 4.303 billion tons in volume and worth US$2.675 trillion. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.741 billion tonnes of cargo, valued at US$1.024 trillion, while ports in North America handled 1.90 billion tonnes of cargo, valued at US$2.305 trillion. To meet the growing demand for trade, AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, safe, and sustainable.

KEVIN TROTTER,Vice President ofbusiness development

Mister. Traver serves as AAPA's vice president of business development, where he is responsible for engaging association members by delivering two of the five goals of AAPA's strategic plan: relevance and relationship building, and sponsorship development.

Kevin's previous roles include: CCO of the American Trucking Association (ATA), Executive Director of the Marine Technology Society (MTS), VP of Corporate Affairs and Development of the United States Marine League (NLUS) and Executive Director of the National Maritime Heritage Foundation (NMHF). Kevin has also acted as a consultant, providing clients with development, sales and fundraising plans for key donors.

Kevin servedthe US Marine Corps with nearly 10 years of active service including year-long tours of Japan, Sri Lanka, Ireland and visits to 54 countries. Kevin holdsABA in Diplomatic History from the University of Connecticut.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (1)

JEN WILK,Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing

Mrs. Wilk's role at AAPA is intended to provide strategic direction for proactive communications and marketing engagement to expand the voice of AAPA and its members. She also serves as the liaison to the association's public relations and cruise committees.

Mrs. Wilk has twelve (12) years of experience in the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA). During her time at PVA, she managed public relations, communications and development marketing.

Jen holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from American University in Washington, DC.

She is President of the Propeller Club of Washington DC and an active member of the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA). Jen is also passionate about community involvement and volunteers as a member of the board of directors of Liberty's Promise, a charitable foundation dedicated to helping young immigrants.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (2)

MAGGIE SÖRGEL,Director of Congresses and Events

Maggie Soergel is an award-winning live show producer with a strong political background and experience in turning complex issues into impactful live experiences.

Maggie is from Washington, D.C. and was a television show writer and producer before joining The Hill's live events division, where she booked, produced and performed policy-oriented programs featuring senior federal officials and lawmakers that focused on finding bipartisan solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges public and private sectors of the country.

(Video) AAPA Leadership & Advocacy Summit 2015

Maggie then spent several years at the US Chamber of Commerce's 501(c)(3) affiliate, producing nationwide programs on the opioid epidemic with the goal of equipping businesses of all sizes with the tools they need to empower their employees Help fight prescription abuse. . During her tenure, she was a key part of the team that won four 2020 Telly Awards for programs focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (3)

PAULA GONZALEZ,Senior Manager vonmembership increase

Prior to joining AAPA in December 2020, Ms. Gonzalez was with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) for 18 years, first as an international program specialist, then as global member relations coordinator, and soon after as global member manager.

During her tenure at PMA, she helped exceed membership recruitment and retention goals, mobilized federal funding to run retail training programs for global supermarkets, successfully restructured the association's contributory strategy, established its first international subsidiary in Australia-New Zealand and saw record attendance International trade conferences.

Woman. Gonazle earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish and French and is fluent in Spanish and French.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (4)

PAM MAHER,Communication and publication manager

As AAPA's Communications and Publications Manager, Pam oversees theadvisoryE-Newsletter, AAPA Seaports Magazine, Smart Guide, Member Directory, Website, Microsite e centro de carreiras.

Pam has extensive experience in offset and digital printing processes, project management and SRM. Her experience includes a 10-year career in the publishing department of a leading medical organization representing members worldwide, where she served as print buyer and production manager.

Before joining AAPA, Pam co-owned a sea-based family business where she gained invaluable industry experience. After graduating from Penn State, Pam began a career in communications and customer representation with a major airline.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (5)

LIZ MANCINI,Manager vonmember experience

Elizabeth A. Mancini has over thirty years of diverse membership industry experience. Throughout her career, she has proven experience in mentoring executive teams and members, leading projects, implementing effective internal and external communication plans, analyzing data, managing CRM systems, and improving and utilizing analytical and managerial skills collected.

Liz most recently worked at Capitol Hill Management Services in Albany, NY, where she served as Executive Director of the International Association of Special Investigative Units, Inc. (IASIU). Liz previously served as Manager of Member Relations, Retention and Information Technology at the Business Council of New York State, Inc. in Albany, NY.

Liz received an associate degree from Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Johnstown, NY and a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY. She is a notary public appointed by the State of New York. Liz is currently Chair of the Membership Committee of the Empire State Society of Association Executives.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (6)

RAFAEL J. DÍAZ-BALART,Coordinator for Latin America

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Mister. Diaz-Balart is CEO and founder of Vestec International Corporation, a Florida corporation founded in 1993. Diaz-Balart serves as AAPA's Latin America Coordinator.

Prior to founding Vestec, Mr. Diaz-Balart was a senior executive at IBJ Schroder International Bank, Paine Webber, Barnett Bank and the National Bank of Washington, DC. to the President of Venezuela. In partnership with the directors of Brazilian financial group Banco Paulista/Socopa, Mr. Diaz-Balart established InterTrust Bank Limited (Bahamas). He also advised on the formation of the Florida Special Opportunity Fund, a US-based offshore commercial real estate investment vehicle managed by The Allen Morris Company. Vestec advises American, Latin American and Spanish companies on their international activities, including companies in the shipping, finance, education and energy sectors.

Mister. Diaz-Balart holds a Bachelor of Arts (Government) from Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) and a Masters of Business Administration from American University, (Washington, D.C.)

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (7)

Aldo Martinez,Latin American staff

Aldo Martinez joined AAPA in February 2020. He is responsible for managing and tracking Latin American connections, communicating with LATAM members and overseeing the Spanish language e-newsletter “Advisory”. Mister. Martinez supports the Membership Engagement Department and plays a key role in the Latin American delegation, providing vital assistance in joining the association.

Prior to joining AAPA, Mr. Martinez was part of the logistics department at Bosch Mexico, specifically in the warehouse where he learned different methods and accessible ways to receive, service and ship materials from an automotive company.

Mister. Martinez holds a BA in Industrial Engineering from Universidad Tecnológica Del Valle de Toluca in Toluca, Mexico.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (8)

CARY DAVIS,Vice President ofGovernment Relations and General Counsel

Cary directs government relations and serves as General Counsel for the American Association of Port Authorities. It tells the story of seaports and their workers as the President and Congress make decisions about infrastructure, transportation, trade, and security.

Cary previously served in the federal government as the Presidential and Congressional Representative on International Trade and Security.

He has appeared in The New York Times, BBC, Politico and Bloomberg to discuss supply chains and the economy. He has written and passed legislation on climate change infrastructure and international trade. His work has been featured on The Drudge Report, CNN, Newsweek, Breitbart and Zero Hedge.

Cary is a board member of the Propeller Club of Washington, DC and was named CEO Update Lobbyist of the Year in 2021 for his work addressing supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.

He received his JD and Masters from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.S. of Pitt, who spent his early years in his beloved home state of Pennsylvania.

(Video) Board Leadership Program - AAPA 2020 Virtual Gala

Cary also loves his family, golf and his rescued pit bull, Maddie.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (9)

JENNIFER „JEN“ ARMSTRONG,Director of Navigation Policy and Legislation

Jen oversees waterfront infrastructure issues and relevant legal and regulatory matters, including AAPA's Quality Partnership Initiative (QPI) with the US Army Corps of Engineers, and serves as a liaison with the Ports and Shipping Committee. Jen comes to AAPA from one of the most influential positions in the federal government on coastal port funding.– US Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. She also has extensive experience in the US Army Corps of Engineers, bringing leadership and momentum to AAPA in the areas of the Port Maintenance Trust Fund, national marine fisheries regulatory policy, the US Coast Guard, NOAA and more.

Jen served as the Republican staff director/employee for the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee serving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. US$53 billion available to the Department of Energy and various independent agencies. Jen's specialty is the water portfolio, which includes the Corps' civil works and the Bureau of Reclamation's water supply activities. Prior to serving on the subcommittee, Jen served with the Corps of Engineers as a water resource planner, project manager and government affairs liaison with a focus on navigation, coastal storm mitigation and ecosystem restoration.

Jen is a graduate of Old Dominion University, where she received her bachelor's degree in biology. She lives in Virginia with her daughter and her partner.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (10)

DEREK MILLER,Government Relations Manager

Derek Miller oversees AAPA's port safety and security policies—including issues related to the US Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He also plays an active role in infrastructure policy for the US Department of Transportation, working with the rest of the team to advocate for the policy positions of AAPA members in Washington, DC.

Before joining AAPA, Derek worked for Stove Boat LLC, a public relations firm specializing in helping marine clients achieve their policy goals and reduce regulatory burdens. Over the course of five years at Stove Boat, Derek has worked with a variety of marine industries including commercial fishing, shipping, offshore energy and ports.

Derek also helped lead a trade association on behalf of the commercial fishing industry with members in the East, West, Gulf Coasts and Hawaii. The trade association's mission was to be a national voice for regional groups that lacked the resources to operate alone in Washington.

Derek holds a BA in Political Science from George Washington University.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (11)

IAN GANSLER,Energy, resilience and sustainability policy manager

IanGansler comes to AAPA from DC lobbying firm O'Neill and Associates. There he worked for AAPA affiliate Massport on federal affairs. He has also worked for other transportation industry clients including a high-speed rail advocacy group, the American Airlines Flight Attendants Union and Jay Cashman, Inc. on federal dredging and offshore wind policies.

Before working for O'Neill and Associates, Ian worked for End Citizens United, a PAC dedicated to electing Democrats to Congress to advocate for campaign finance reform. He also did an internship with his hometown Congressman, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA-2) in both DC and Worcester, MA.

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Iani is a graduate of the American University School of Public Affairs and is doing a part-time Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown University in the evenings.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (12)

SHAWN BALCOMB,Public Relations Manager

Shawn brings years of communications experience in federal and state government, as well as in campaigns and the private sector.

Shawn has over six years of experience in state and federal government and campaign communications. He served former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp; a first-time congressional candidate (who was a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy and an experienced navigator) in an unsafe district; Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas; and in public affairs campaigns for private sector clients at Plus Communications.

Most recently, Shawn was communications director for Representative Maria Salazar of Florida, an advocate for the Port of Miami, greater development and trade in Latin America, and other coastal maritime priorities. Originally from New Jersey, Shawn graduated from the University of Georgia where he received a B.A. in communication studies.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (13)

MATT WIGGINS,Freight and Infrastructure Politician

Matt is responsible for land port policy including freight and cargo infrastructure, port development and supply chain. Matt comes from trade associations and joined AAPA from the RV Industry Association, where he was a policy analyst focusing on supply chain, EV policy and park electrification.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (14)

SHANNON MCLEOD, Executive Director of Member Services

Shannon Supervisiona o Professional Port Manager (PPM®) Certification and accreditation programs, including the ACCELErate grant program. His extensive experience spans over two decades, providing project management and technical leadership for maritime, intermodal and supply chain initiatives.

Shannon received an MPA in Maritime, Port and Logistics Management from Old Dominion University, is Chair of the Standing Committee on Ports and Canals of the Transportation Research Council and is a Class Alpha 2023 member of the PPM program.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (15)

JULIE BARELAS,Associate and Professional Development Associate

Julie Barelas works with the grants team to support the ACCELerate program, a new initiative through a US Department of Labor grant. Julie joined AAPA in January 2020 as Executive Assistant Admin. Ms. Barelas' professional experience is in program management and client relations in the government, military and education sectors.

Julie works as a volunteer at the JK Community Farm in the Washington DC area, an organization that grows and makes available fresh and organic fruits and vegetables to people with food insecurity, including children and the elderly. She also participates in local 5K charity events.

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Meet AAPA leadership and staff (16)


Keonna helps with accounting tasks as well as office administration functions. Keonna has over 15 years of association accounting experience. His skills have led to the advancement of non-profit organizations in the areas of membership dues tax reporting, event management, CRM data reporting and grant management. Keonna holds a Bachelor of Science from Westwood College.

Meet AAPA leadership and staff (17)


1. Past Presidents of the AAPA from the Yale PA Program
2. Signature Mentorship Program AAPA 2020 Virtual Gala
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3. New Academy Leaders: President Patrick Killeen
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4. AAPA Advocacy in Action: PAs on the Hill
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5. AAPA POWERS Launch Webinar 7 19 22
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6. IMPACT 2010 - Town Hall, Part 1
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