Former Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero Named Port Executive Director

Mario Cordero, who was appointed by the Obama Administration as chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission in 2013, will return to Long Beach to head the country’s second largest seaport.

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is expected to vote tomorrow to confirm Cordero’s appointment during a special public meeting. The commission had made the decision on Cordero in an executive session following their April 10 board meeting.

“I am so pleased to be coming back home to the Port of Long Beach during this time of dramatic change in the maritime industry,” Cordero said in a statement. “The broad perspective I gained at the national level, along with my many years of service as a Long Beach Harbor Commissioner and my love for the community of Long Beach, will allow me to hit the ground running. We have a stellar leadership team in place, and I’ll be working closely with the Commission and our highly experienced staff in the months ahead to carry out our ambitious capital improvements and ensure that our customers and community members are well-served.”

The Port of Long Beach has been without an executive director since last September, when then-CEO Jon Slangerup resigned after accepting a position as chairman and CEO of an aviation technology firm. 

During the last couple of months the port’s own capital programs executive, Duane Kenagy, has been serving as interim CEO

“After a comprehensive international search, the Board of Harbor Commissioners recognized that Mario Cordero is an ideal choice to lead the Port of Long Beach,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said in a statement. “Mario not only has a deep understanding of the maritime industry from his leadership of the Federal Maritime Commission, but his service as a member of the Long Beach Harbor Commission gives him extensive knowledge of the needs of our carriers, terminal operators, cargo owners, and other trade partners. Mario approaches challenges from a bipartisan, collaborative perspective and as we seek to keep our port thriving, his combination of national and local experience is well-suited to carry us into the future.”

He served as a Long Beach Harbor commissioner from 2003 to 2011 during which he helped spearhead the Port’s Green Port Policy and worked toward reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship to achieve long-term, sustainable port development, port officials stated. From 2007 to 2008 he served as the president of the Harbor Commission.

“Cordero has forged relationships with maritime representatives around the world, and he is poised to build consensus as new alliances change the face of the shipping industry,” Port officials said in a statement. “Concurrent with his leadership positions at the Port of Long Beach, Cordero served on the Executive Board of the American Association of Port Authorities’ Latin American delegation. In this role, he led efforts to develop policies for greater cooperation, increased trade, and joint growth across the combined North American and Latin American footprint.”

“Mario Cordero has my complete support and is absolutely the right choice to lead our Harbor Department,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “I’m especially pleased that Mario is a longtime resident of Long Beach. He understands how important it is to grow our local economy and protect our environment.”

He was appointed by former President Barack Obama as chair of the FMC in 2013. He had been an FMC commissioner since 2011.

Cordero was replaced as chairman of the FMC in February when President Donald Trump designated Commissioner Michael Khouri as acting chairman.

He is a Long Beach resident and attorney who has practiced law for more than 30 years and has taught political science at Long Beach City College (LBCC), port officials said. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) and a law degree from the University of Santa Clara.

He is expected to join the Port in May.

Editor’s note: this story was updated at 4:45PM with a quote from Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.