The Port Manatee Propeller Club honored Port Manatee Executive Director David L. McDonald PPM® with its highest honor as Maritime Person of the Year during ceremonies April 14th at the Bradenton Yacht Club.
McDonald received the award based on his effective leadership as Port Manatee’s executive director for the past 19 years and his dedication and commitment to the maritime community.
Past honorees include U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan, former Florida Statehouse Speaker Pro Tem Ron Reagan, Florida Department of Transportation District 1 Secretary Stan Cann, Port Manatee Commerce Center Owner Stanley Riggs and Port Manatee Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Director Joseph Gontarski.
McDonald is the second-longest-serving port director in the United States.
As executive director of Port Manatee since 1992, McDonald has overseen more than $200 million in port infrastructure upgrades and improvements including the construction of more than 825,000 square feet of warehouses and office space and the acquisition of the port’s first two mobile harbor container cranes. He led a successful coalition to acquire all of the port’s necessary environmental permits to complete its current expansion.
Under his leadership, Port Manatee emerged as the fourth largest of Florida’s 14 deepwater seaports contributing a regional economic impact of $2.3 billion annually, and supporting more than 24,000 jobs.
During his tenure, McDonald was the lead negotiator bringing to the port, two of the Sunshine State’s most important natural gas pipeline systems, Gulfstream Natural Gas System and Port Dolphin.
He was among the first five people in the country to earn the American Association of Port Authorities’ Professional Port Manager accreditation in 1996.
McDonald was past chairman of the Florida Ports Council for 10 years, also serving as chairman of its Environmental Management Committee. He currently serves as chairman of The Florida Ocean Alliance.
In 2008, he completed a three-year term serving former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and, subsequently Secretary Mary Peters, on the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council.
Fellow propeller club member Ken Schneider was also honored during Thursday’s ceremonies. Schneider was named Member of the Year for his service to the club, particularly his contributions to the success of the organization’s fundraising efforts.