Isaacson, Miller Assists the Massachusetts Port Authority with CEO Search

June 10, 2024 – The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), one of the nation’s most multifaceted port authorities and a prime engine of economic vitality for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and New England, has voted to appointed Richard Davey as its next CEO with assistance from Boston-based Isaacson, Miller. Past CEO Lisa Wieland recently stepped down. Lisa Savereid and Jeff Kessner led the search with Tatiana Oberkoetter. Isaacson, Miller sought a diverse candidate pool for the position. Nearly 100 people expressed interest, of those 48 candidates were considered, and 10 candidates made the first round. Three candidates were advanced to a second round earlier this month. Of the 10 first round candidates, half were women and six were people of color. The committee advanced Eulois Cleckley and Mr. Davey as finalists at a public meeting on May 16.

“Davey’s vast transportation experience makes him an ideal candidate for the position to lead the Authority,” said Patricia Jacobs Massport board chairwoman. “We are thrilled to be bringing someone on board with so much experience leading large and complex organizations. Davey will be building upon a solid foundation. The senior leadership team has kept the Authority in good standing, with strong bond ratings and growth across the three business lines, as well as strategic investments to reduce emissions, attract more business, improve the customer experience, while being a good neighbor.”

For the past two years, Mr. Davey has served as the president of the MTA’s New York City Transit, where he oversees the largest mass transit system in North America with 47,000 employees, over 6.5 million daily customers and a $10 billion operating budget. Mr. Davey is also no stranger to Massachusetts. He has held various transportation leadership roles from 2003-2014 serving as the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail; the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; and the Commonwealth’s secretary of transportation. The secretary of transportation serves as an ex officio member of the Massport board, and Mr. Davey was also the Massport board chairman for a period during his tenure.

Prior to the position at the MTA, he served as a consultant and advisor. His work focused on transportation and infrastructure topics, such as green vehicle technology, and the future of mobility. During this period, he was a sought-after speaker at various forums, including the MIT Sustainability Summit, National Governors Association, the Aspen Institute’s Future of Cities.

Related: The Whitney Museum of American Art Retains Isaacson, Miller to Find Chief Advancement Officer

The Massachusetts Port Authority is an independent public authority of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, created by act of the legislature in 1956. Massport operates three significant business lines – Aviation, Maritime, and Real Estate – and stewards $3.4 billion in assets that safely, securely, and efficiently connect the Commonwealth and New England to the world beyond and enhance the quality of life for residents in the region.

In 2019, Isaacson, Miller assisted in the recruitment of Ms. Wieland as Massport’s CEO. The organization’s CEO prior to that was Thomas Glynn, who was placed by Spencer Stuart.

Nationally Recognized Search Firm

A nationally recognized search firm focused on recruiting transformational leaders for mission-driven organizations, Isaacson, Miller has conducted thousands of placements over more than three decades. More than half of the firm’s work has been in academia, involving university presidents, college chancellors and deans. The firm has filled top leadership posts at Wellesley College, Washington State University, Miami University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth, NYU, Virginia State University, and the University of North Carolina, among others.

John Isaacson, the firm’s chair, founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982. He has led searches in many areas of the firm’s practice. Mr. Isaacson has helped the firm develop its cumulative knowledge of the craft of search and has attended, with increasing interest, to the missionary purposes of institutions, the political and economic disciplines of specialized markets, and the emotional and intellectual learnings that leaders acquire in a committed working life.

Ms. Savereid is one of the firm’s senior partners with a career as a search practitioner and organizational leader. She came to Isaacson, Miller in 1994 with a background in government and business and established a search practice spanning several core areas of focus in the firm. Ms. Savereid has played an important role in the development of the firm’s higher education practice, leading presidential and cabinet-level searches for some of the firm’s most prominent higher education clients and building and sustaining long-term relationships with them. Her practice also includes leadership recruitment for philanthropy, economic and community development, and social justice advocacy clients.

Mr. Kessner joined Isaacson, Miller in 2014 and has recruited senior leaders for public and private higher education institutions, including presidents, provosts, deans, and chief student affairs officers. His clients include small liberal arts colleges, regional comprehensive institutions, and large research-intensive universities. In addition to his higher education practice, Mr. Kessner has recruited leaders for advocacy organizations, economic development agencies, research institutes, and associations. Prior to joining the firm, he worked at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

Ms. Oberkoetter is a managing associate at Isaacson, Miller. She recruits leaders for a variety of civic institutions, including human services and social justice organizations, foundations, environmental non-profits, and higher education institutions. Ms. Oberkoetter joined Isaacson, Miller in 2016 as a search coordinator. In this role, she acted as a liaison for clients, candidates, and the search team and provided project management support for searches, primarily within the higher education sector. Since Ms. Oberkoetter became an associate in 2018, much of her practice has focused on president, CEO, and executive director searches.

Related: University of New Hampshire Using Isaacson, Miller to Find 21st President

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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