WPPA Staff

Eric D. Johnson, Executive Director

With a 30 year history with the Washington Public Ports Association, Eric Johnson was appointed Executive Director in January 2009. As Executive Director, he represents port interests to state and federal elected and appointed officials, as well as with international and domestic business, trade and investment interests.

He is responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the Association, including administration, budget, communications, policy and strategic planning functions. Eric joined the Washington Public Ports Association in 1988 as the Environmental Affairs Director and was promoted to Deputy Director in 2006.

Eric holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and political science from Pacific Lutheran University, and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in environmental policy and natural resource management from the University of Washington. Prior to joining WPPA, Eric worked for the Washington State Senate.

A native of Washington State, he lives in Olympia.


James Thompson, Deputy Director

In his role as Deputy Director, James Thompson brings a deep understanding of the commercial transportation and global logistics industry to the Association. He joined WPPA as Senior Director, Trade & Transportation for the WPPA, with past experience including roles in strategic logistics and trade initiatives for the Terex Corporation, which includes Genie Industries. He has also served as Director of International Logistics and Trade for Terex, and, prior to that, as North American Transportation Manager for Starbucks Coffee Company. He has experience with all modes of transportation, including trucking, waterborne transport, and air freight. Early in his career, he worked in state government with a variety of state agencies in Olympia.

His career in the global logistics industry took him to ports throughout the world, bringing a wide array of experience back to serve the best interests of the public ports of Washington State.


Gerry O’Keefe, Senior Director, Environmental Affairs

Gerry O’Keefe has spent nearly 25 years in public sector roles, including serving closely under four Governors, beginning at the Office of Financial Management, moving into the Department of Ecology and, finally, serving as the Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership.  In 2006, he led Governor Gregoire’s initiative to establish an Office of the Columbia River within the Department of Ecology charged with meeting environmental goals while developing new water supplies.  He has a successful track record building coalitions and working with the legislature to accomplish public policy goals.

Of note, Gerry’s experience includes time as the Natural Resources Director for the Grant County Public Utility District, an entity which draws significant regulatory attention from state and federal agencies.  As a result of his experience, he is acutely aware of the care that must be paid as the state designs and implements effective environmental programs and strategies.

Gerry made his way to Washington in 1984, enrolling in the University of Washington’s MBA program.  He and his wife, Judy, raised a son and a daughter to love adventures in the mountains and on the water our state has in abundance.  A transplanted Minnesotan, he’s never missed -40F degrees nor lost his sense of wonder for snow-capped volcanoes.


Chris Herman, Senior Director, Trade & Transportation

Chris Herman has worked in logistics and supply chain for 20 years and has experience working in all facets of the management of goods movement.  He has managed supply chain operations, strategy, and optimization for companies in a diverse group of industries including agricultural, petrochemical, energy and direct-to-consumer retail.

Chris brought his talents to the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2012, where he led freight rail planning and policy and oversaw the department’s freight rail grant and loan programs and managed the Washington State Grain Train.

A native of the Midwest, Chris enjoys the mountains and all things outdoors.


Laura Pettitt, Communications Manager

Laura Pettitt brings a 15-year background in public relations and marketing to her role at WPPA, focused on travel, tourism, and transportation. In past roles, she served in leadership positions with agencies in New York and Los Angeles, representing international and domestic clients — including international airlines, private railroad services, government tourism boards, automobiles and health, among others. She has also led in-house communications and marketing teams for nonprofits along with travel and tourism brands, including Four Seasons, Z Resorts, Destination Hotels among others.

Having grown up in Gig Harbor, WA, her travels around the world have led her to believe there’s no place like home. With a first internship in the Washington State House of Representatives, she returns to Olympia to serve the interests of Washington’s public ports. She brings a breadth of knowledge to the team in media, digital marketing, web management and content production.

Laura resides in Tacoma, and is an avid reader of historical mysteries, attempts complex recipes involving vegetables and enjoys exploring our incredibly beautiful state by boat, car, bike and foot.


Tasha Cilurso, Business Manager

Tasha Cilurso joined WPPA as Business Manager in July 2016. Tasha brings years of experience in financial reporting and office management from her background in hospitality.

She manages all of the association’s financial, payroll and bookkeeping functions.  Tasha graduated from the University of Washington – Tacoma with a Bachelor’s Degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

She grew up in Olympia and currently resides in Tumwater with her family.


Missy Goodell, CMP, Member Services Manager

As Member Services Manager, Missy serves as the first line of communication to WPPA associate and port members to ensure smooth day-to-day operations of the Association.  She coordinates meetings, events, and seminars and manages the port building and tenant needs.

Missy brings decades of executive-level administrative support to WPPA.  Her professional background includes working at Puget Sound Energy, the South Sound YMCA, and most recently at the Administrative Office of the Courts.  Missy’s quick smile, approachable manner, and willingness and ability to work where needed is a real compliment to the team; she is passionate about providing outstanding customer service and has a solid grasp of the big picture as well as the minute details required to be successful.

A Master Gardener since 2009, Missy enjoys all types of landscaping, from design and maintenance to installation of hardscapes, to container, flower and vegetable gardening.  She grew up in Bellevue and raised two kids, now grown, in the Olympia area where she currently resides with her two dogs.


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