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Connecticut Port Authority hires interim executive director

Retired Connecticut College administrator Ulysses B. Hammond was named the interim executive director of the Connecticut Port Authority on Tuesday and will lead the quasi-public agency while a permanent replacement is sought.

Hammond’s hiring came with a unanimous vote by the port authority’s board of directors. He is expected to start working with outgoing director John Henshaw immediately. Henshaw announced his resignation last month but is expected to stay on during a transition period with Hammond through May.

Hammond, who lives in Waterford, worked for Connecticut College from 2000 to 2015 and retired as the college’s vice president for administration. He was praised for, among other things, his work overseeing $100 million in capital projects at the school. Previously, he worked as chief executive officer of the District of Columbia court system from 1999 to 2000.

He has served and been honored by numerous local community organizations and spent 10 years as president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Trust Fund.

“We're very lucky to have identified someone who is interested and has the skill set, very well if not perfectly suited to help us through this transition period as we launch a search for our next permanent executive director,” board Chairman David Kooris said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Kooris said Hammond’s experience in the areas of human resources, finance and capital projects “is a macrocosm of everything the authority deals with on a smaller scale.”

“I think he is very well positioned to help us continue to advance the policy and procedure updates, to fortify our staffing, all the while completing the project at State Pier and other initiatives,” Kooris said. The port authority is managing a multimillion-dollar construction project at State Pier in New London.

Hammond will be an at-will employee for the port authority and paid a salary commensurate with Henshaw’s $200,000 annual salary, along with benefits.

Hammond, who said he was interested in the interim position and not the permanent position, said he’s well versed in leading complex organizations in a variety of roles and confident in his ability to lead the port authority in the final stages of the State Pier construction project.

Asked about his interest in the port authority, Hammond said the agency’s projects involving the offshore wind industry and accommodation of heavy-lift cargo is some of the most important in Connecticut.

He credited the port authority and Henshaw for work to get the State Pier project permitted and started.

“We have tremendous momentum right now,” Hammond said. “I think we will be in a position to sustain that momentum and build on that momentum as the result of my own project management operations experience.”

“I feel strongly about the prospect and promise for our state and New England when it comes to offshore wind as well as heavy-lift cargo capabilities,” Hammond said. “We now have to keep our eye on the ball. We have a mission critical objective ... that by this time next year we’re in a position to start the staging of offshore wind components and material. We have to stay focused on the future and what this project is all about.”

The port authority has launched a search for the permanent executive director position and in a statement said it hopes to make a selection later this year.

g.smith@theday.com

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