In Magazine Article, News

By Todd Karpovich & Tina Irgang Leaderman
Photograph by Kathy Bergren Smith


Read this article in the January/February 2018 digital edition.

The Port Commissioners for the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) are a diverse group of individuals who come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from company executives to a religious leader to a regulatory expert. The commissioners, who serve a three-year term, establish policies that help improve the competitive edge of the Port of Baltimore within the international maritime industry.

Brenda Dandy, Co-founder and Financial Executive, Marine Enterprises International

Brenda Dandy became involved with the Port community when her company, Marine Enterprises International, a manufacturer of products for the aquarium and seafood industries, started exporting its products globally. The business was started in 1968. Although the company was sold in 2011, her interest in the Port has continued.

In July 2003, Dandy was commissioned by Gov.Robert L. Ehrlich to serve as Vice-Chair of the Maryland Commission for Women, and, in July 2005, she was appointed and commissioned by Gov. Ehrlich to serve on the Maryland Port Commission.

In July 2015, Gov. Larry Hogan commissioned her for another three-year term.

“My goals are to see the leadership continue in the vein it has this past year,” Dandy said. “We had excellent economic progress due to the fact that we have an exceptional team. I would like to see us strive to continue our public service to the commercial and marine industries and maintain the quality in all the services we provide. Also, I would like to see the Port manage the resources of the environment that will meet the needs of future generations.”

Port commissioners

Left to right: Walter Tilley, Jr.; David Richardson; Brenda Dandy; Maryland Secretary of Transportation and Port Commission Chairman Pete K. Rahn; Rev. John Lunn, Sr.; Robert Huber; Christian Dean

Dandy said one the biggest challenges facing the Port is maintaining its capital facilities in working order and managing the funds allotted for infrastructure. She said this is a vital area where the Port needs to manage wisely. In addition, Dandy would like to make progress with the Howard Street tunnel and CSX Railroad.

In addition to serving as a Port Commissioner, Dandy is involved with the Rotary Club of Towsontowne and is on the board of the Johns Hopkins Club. “Our biggest strength of the state’s maritime industry is the leadership headed by [MDOT MPA Executive Director] Jim White,” Dandy said. “Since I no longer own my business, I’ve been able to balance my time pretty well.”

Christian Dean, Chairman and CEO, BAM Brands USA

For Christian Dean, port work is a family tradition. His grandparents met at a major port on the West Coast, where both were working. To this day, Dean’s uncle and brother work at that same hometown port.

“We have a very long history in the ports,” said Dean. “Then, when I was 18, I joined the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed in Baltimore for most of my career.”

That history of experience at the Port of Baltimore, and with the business of running a port generally, is what made Dean an ideal candidate for Port Commissioner. “The people within
Gov. Hogan’s office of appointments knew of my background, and that’s how I became involved,” he said.

During his tenure as Port Commissioner, Dean is looking to help the Port expand and stay competitive. “Our goal is economic development, growing the Port and making sure the way is paved for Jim White and the rest of the MDOT MPA employees to do their jobs as efficiently as possible and bring in new business,” he said.

One of the challenges the Port faces, according to Dean, is acquiring enough land to support its growth potential. “Our role [as Commissioners] is not to seek out the property to buy, but our role is to make sure that when Jim White brings us something and needs some kind of commitment, … that we are all on board with the further expansion.”

The Port of Baltimore’s biggest strength, Dean believes, is its superior efficiency — “being the place where all these carriers want to come because of how quickly the workers can load and unload container ships. There’s a competitive advantage with our efficiency rate and the ability that we have to expand into the future.” Another major point in the Port’s favor is being able to accommodate the larger container ships coming through the Panama Canal, he said.

Dean, who until last summer was employed at First National Bank, is now CEO of his own business, an importer and distributor of two German makeup brands, Make up Factory and BeYu. The flexibility that comes with being his own boss, Dean said, has given him more time than ever before to focus on the needs of the Port community and how he can help fulfill them. “I don’t need to ask anybody’s permission,” he said.

Robert Huber, Former Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Port Administration Executive

Robert Huber joined the MDOT MPA, then called the Maryland Port Authority, in 1970. Formerly a property and casualty underwriter, his primary responsibilities dealt with insurance requirements.

Throughout his tenure with the MDOT MPA, he worked in and managed many fields, such as insurance, leasing, safety, property management and land acquisition. Huber served as a member of the MDOT MPA’s tariff committee, which established property rental rates and supervised the leasing, marketing and management of the World Trade Center Baltimore. In his role, he helped bridge the gap between government requirements and business interests.

“Having spent almost 40 years with the Maryland Port Administration, I am very aware of the need to keep the Port strong and competitive,” said Huber, who received the Designation Award from the Building Owners and Managers Association International for his role as a real property administrator. “As a Port Commissioner, I see many opportunities to accomplish this through maintaining a highly qualified management team within the MDOT MPA, land acquisitions for cargo expansion, continued use of the private/public partnerships and the attraction of new high-value and volume cargoes.”

Huber said that the Port also needs to continually maintain its high-quality cargo-handling workforce. The Port can turn containers and vessels around in record time, and its “break-bulk staff is second to none” thanks to the local crane operators.

Huber is confident that the Port will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the international maritime industry for years to come. The Port is the main force behind the local economy and generates thousands of jobs each year. This reputation has been a catalyst for increased business, and Baltimore is a popular destination for the world’s largest cargo carriers and cruise ships.

“If you consider that a carrier entering the Chesapeake Bay must pass the ports in Virginia, there must be a strong reason for that carrier to continue to Baltimore,” Huber said. “That reason is the combination of a strong management team and an efficient, dedicated and highly trained labor force. This combination is the Port’s biggest strength and the reason for its success.”

Rev. John Lunn, Sr., Pastor, The Berean Baptist Church of Baltimore

Rev. John Lunn, Sr., a Baltimore native, has been the pastor at Berean Baptist Church for some 40 years. He is also a prominent community leader in the Park Heights neighborhood.

In addition to his ministry, Lunn has worked as a teacher for Howard County Public Schools and a youth counselor for YouthWorks. He has been a member of the Maryland State Education Association, the NAACP and the Howard County Education Association.

For Lunn, becoming a Port Commissioner seemed like “a new adventure.” He said, “I’m thankful that Gov. Hogan made the appointment, and I’m going to do my best to keep our Port on top.” Lunn is looking forward to supporting the Port on current and upcoming initiatives, including the Poplar Island and Mid-Bay Island dredging and environmental restoration projects.

One of the Port’s main assets, Lunn said, is its leadership. “Jim White is doing a great job, along with those who surround him. He has the expertise needed to keep our Port where it is and take it further into the future.”

In the Baltimore area and beyond, Lunn is a sought-after seminary and workshop leader who has addressed audiences in locations as far away as the Bahamas.

Lunn holds a master’s in education from Coppin State University, a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University and a doctorate in ministry from Howard University.

David Richardson, Senior Director of Governmental Affairs, Southwest Airlines

David Richardson was first introduced to the Port at age 18, working his way through college as an aide for Helen Delich Bentley. “I attended scores of Port-related meetings with her during this time, including being a fly on the wall as she helped to mitigate two Port-related strikes in the early 1990s,” he said.

Richardson later became the Congresswoman’s legislative assistant for transportation and maritime issues. “She taught me a lot as I worked for THE subject-matter expert in Congress with regards to the commercial maritime industry. It was a tremendous privilege, too,” Richardson said.

After Bentley retired from Congress, Richardson launched a career in commercial aviation, but he returned to the maritime business in 2015, when she recommended him for an appointment to the Maryland Port Commission.

Richardson takes seriously the Commission’s statutory duty to boost the Port of Baltimore’s position in the maritime community. “Ultimately, I want the Port to be in a better position to compete and grow,” he said. “Growth at the Port means more jobs … and that means more economic opportunities and a better quality of life for those living in and around Baltimore and throughout Maryland,” he said.

The Port’s competitive advantage, said Richardson, lies in its people. “The Port is blessed to have a strong and experienced workforce — men and women who are dedicated to the Port’s day-to-day efficiency and productivity, as well as its long-term success.”

Another major asset is the Port’s leadership, he said: “The Port has very strong and experienced leadership at both its public and privately operated facilities — leaders who know how to run a business and improve the Port’s standing within a very competitive environment. Finally, I think the Port benefits from a slate of federal, state and local political leaders who realize how vital the Port is to the economy and do what they can to provide the Port with the resources it needs.

“I have been very impressed by the dedication of Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and, of course, Jim White, as well as hundreds of people within their respective organizations who strive to make the Port of Baltimore the best seaport in the country,” Richardson said.

Walter Tilley, Jr., CEO of Home Paramount Pest Control

Walter Tilley, Jr. has been involved with the Port ever since he was a child. His family’s pest-control business worked closely with local maritime businesses.

“The foundation of our family pest control business was at the Port, and I recognized early on how vital and productive the Port community was both to Baltimore and to the larger community,” Tilley said.

Today, Tilley plays a vital role as a Port Commissioner, in addition to his duties as the CEO of his family-founded business, Home Paramount Pest Control. The biggest challenge facing the Port is a lack of space, he said. To take advantage of the opportunities that continue to emerge, the local maritime industry must have room to grow.

He said the Port community has to anticipate the area needed to accommodate the growing amount of work, and he is convinced that the current leadership understands this challenge and will resolve it.

“First and foremost, it is my duty as a Commissioner to be forward thinking and to provide sound advice,” Tilley said. “The strategic thinking that is necessary for successful board leadership comes from its members, so I intend to be acutely attuned to the needs and opportunities of the Port. Secondly, because I believe firmly in outstanding outcomes, my goal is to help the Port maintain its position as one of the most productive ports on the East Coast, while continuing to grow.”

Tilley contends that the Port’s strategic location in the mid-Atlantic region will continue to play to its advantage. The talented workforce that keeps the Port productive at all hours of the day is also a boon to the local economy.

What’s more, Tilley understands the importance of leadership, having served in the United States Marine Corps. After completing his military service, he joined Home Exterminating Company, where his father, Walter Tilley, Sr., served as the CEO. Home Exterminating Company expanded by acquiring Paramount Termite Control, a Virginia-based company, which led to Home Paramount.

Tilley is committed to helping the Port maintain its sterling reputation in the international maritime industry. He has a simple strategy to maintain that success.

“Hard work is essential. I firmly believe that everyone has an obligation to be productive and to work to their highest potential,” Tilley said. “I am relentless about facing each day with a high degree of energy and focus.”


Maryland Port Commission: 2018 Public Meetings

Maryland Port Commission meetings are generally held on the first Tuesday of the month at 9:00 a.m. in the Stanton Room
(World Trade Center, 20th Floor) unless otherwise noted.

  • March 6, 2018
  • April 3, 2018
  • May 1, 2018
  • June 5, 2018
  • July 3, 2018
  • August (no meeting)
  • Sept. 4, 2018
  • Oct. 2, 2018
  • Nov. 7, 2018 (Wednesday)
  • Dec. 5, 2018 (at 3:30 p.m.)