Phyllis Saathoff, until recently the interim executive director at the Port of Freeport, Texas, has been named managing director of corporate projects at the Port of Houston, one of the largest port complexes in the United States.
The Port of Houston Authority said her initial focus will be on asset management and issues dealing with the Texas Sunset Commission.
Saathoff served as interim head of Port Freeport since April, following the retirement of A.J. "Pete" Reixach Jr. She was the managing director there for the previous 18 years.
Saathoff recently withdrew her name for consideration as the permanent port director and resigned her post to take advantage of the opportunity in Houston, Bill Terry, chairman of the Port Freeport commission, said.
She is still listed on the Port Freeport Website as its interim port director.
Terry said he expects Port Freeport to name a new director by the end of the month.
Freeport predominantly handles bulk, liquid bulk and project cargoes. It is ranked 16th in the United States in terms of tonnage. The Port of Houston is the largest tonnage port in the nation.
While at Freeport, Saathoff was responsible for overall port operations, management and financial performance, including long-range strategic planning and development, negotiation of long-term leases and development and management of its foreign trade zone.
During her tenure, operating revenues increased from $5 million to $15.6 million and she led negotiations of a long-term lease for a liquefied natural gas facility valued at more than $2.5 billion, according to the Houston Port Authority.
Saathoff is a past president of the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones and currently serves on the Port Authority Advisory Council to the Texas Department of Transportation.
The Texas state legislature last year directed the Sunset Advisory Commission to review the mission and performance of the Port of Houston Authority, including its compliance with legislative requirements. Under a 1977 law, the state regularly assesses every 12 years whether there is a continuing need for a state agency to exist in an effort to eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiency in government. The process works by setting a date on which an agency will be abolished unless legislation is passed to continue its functions. The Sunset Commission makes recommendations to the legislature, which can include disbanding an agency, merging with another agency, or making changes to its mission or operations.
Unlike other state agencies undergoing sunset review, the port authority is not subject to being abolished. But the legislature can mandate whether the port authority needs to make any changes to its business practices or governance structure.
The Sunset Commission will adopt a final set of recommendations in November that will be submitted to the legislature in January. - Eric Kulisch