February 14, 2020 – Executive search firm Reffett Associates has placed the first-ever general counsel of the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), one of the largest container gateways in North America. William Reffett, founder and managing partner, and Tom Young, director of operations, led the assignment for the search firm.
The new general counsel, Dana Henderson, will be responsible for providing legal counsel to the 10 NWSA managing members and executive leadership team. She will dual report to the NWSA co-chairs and CEO John Wolfe.
Ms. Henderson has more than 20 years of experience in both public and private practice. Previously, she served as general counsel for Pierce Transit, the second largest public transit agency in Washington state. She also worked as a litigator and maritime law practitioner earlier in her career. Ms. Henderson earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Washington and graduated from Tulane University School of Law.
Reffett Associates worked with the NWSA’s Legal Services Review Committee, comprised of Port of Seattle commissioners Courtney Gregoire and Ryan Calkins, Port of Tacoma commissioners John McCarthy and Don Johnson, and CEO Wolfe to identify candidates and compete the search.
The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Combined, the ports are the fourth-largest container gateway in North America. Regional marine cargo facilities also are a major center for bulk, breakbulk, project/heavy-lift cargoes, automobiles and trucks.
Mr. Reffett has identified and placed key executive leaders for major companies across the U.S. Previously, he was a vice president and partner with Korn Ferry, where he was responsible for initiating the firm’s national supermarket practice. Additionally, he was a member of the firm’s national specialty retail practice, where he focused on companies along the West Coast.
General Counsel: A New Pathway to CEO
The general counsel role has been vital for companies maintaining an international presence. “The role and stature of the general counsel position has expanded globally,” said Paul Williams, a partner in MLA’s Chicago office.
Before entering the recruitment industry, Mr. Reffett served as senior vice president, chief administrative officer for Cavenham, the U.S.-based investment arm of the late Sir James Goldsmith. Mr. Reffett was also a board member and senior vice president for the organization’s operating company, Grand Union, where he was responsible for areas like human resources, legal, labor relations, and communications. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president of a major department store company. Mr. Reffett also has 27 years of combined active and reserve military experience, retiring as a colonel.
Mr. Young brings 13 years of federal legislative, policy and constituent services experience to Reffett Associates. As district director and counsel for then-U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington), Mr. Young oversaw constituent services, casework and was the district office policy lead for business, energy, environment and transportation issues. He assisted the chief of staff in managing and directing the district office and managed Mr. Reichert’s Wenatchee, WA office. As the lead on a variety of projects and advisory groups for Mr. Reichert, including trade, small business, clean technology and maritime, Mr. Young has intimate knowledge of these industries.
Reffett Associates, based in Bellevue, WA, is a nationally recognized executive search firm. The boutique talent provider has extensive experience in retail and consumer packaged goods, private equity, commercial and federal services, government sectors and associations and non-profits. Its team is made up of executives with tangible industry experience, possessing real world, relatable knowledge about the challenges executives face in managing talent in a competitive marketplace.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media