H. Thomas Kornegay leaves legacy of accomplishments
Port of Houston Authority (PHA) Executive Director H. Thomas Kornegay announced his intention to retire, anticipated to become effective Feb. 1, 2009, bringing to a close his 37-year tenure with the port authority.
Kornegay has served as PHA’s executive director for nearly 17 of those years, a record for that position.
Since joining PHA in April 1972, Kornegay worked his way up through the ranks, serving in the engineering department and as managing director prior to becoming the executive director. While working in the engineering department, he developed the Master Plan for the Fentress Bracewell Barbours Cut Container Terminal, which opened in 1976 and ranks as the busiest container terminal on the US Gulf Coast.
“Service to the Port of Houston Authority has been at the center of my career and my life for almost 37 years,” Kornegay said. “Over the course of my career, it has been exciting and gratifying to have a leadership role in helping to advance the mission and the purpose of the Port of Houston and the port authority. It’s been especially satisfying for a young engineer who started out on Houston’s East side to have a hand in developing Barbours Cut Terminal, which set the course for continued economic development in the Houston Metropolitan region for the past 32 years.”
Kornegay will be stepping down for family reasons associated with the recent death of his mother. Port Chairman Jim Edmonds has called a special meeting of the Port Commission on Friday, Jan. 30, to consider action following this announcement.
“As chairman of the port commission, I have worked very closely with Tom Kornegay for 10 years, and his efforts helped Houston face the container shipping age and embrace the changes it brought. Barbours Cut Terminal and Bayport Terminal bear the stamp of his contributions,” said Edmonds. “Just as American history salutes its great builders, we salute Tom Kornegay as among the great builders of Houston and Harris County. Whether port commissioners or port authority staff, longshoreman or seafarers, the business community or our residents, all of us have been touched by the changes Tom has done so much to bring about. Tom’s years of service to the port authority, and the Texas region are a testament to one man’s devotion to duty and accomplishment.”
In addition to his leadership role with developing the two container terminals, Kornegay was instrumental in the completion of the $700 million Houston Ship Channel deepening and widening project, which included significant environmental, safety and economic benefits for the Houston region and the state. And most recently, Kornegay oversaw PHA’s operational recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike with minimal impact to PHA’s assets. This was largely attributed to the sound design and maintenance of the facilities, coupled with a well-executed emergency response and recovery plan. Among many accolades received during nearly a four-decade career, in 2008, Kornegay was named “Maritime Person of the Year” by the Greater Houston Port Bureau and Houston Area “Engineer of the Year” by local engineers.
Throughout his career, Kornegay has served in a leadership role in many of the maritime industry’s most influential policy-making organization.
He was chairman of the board of the American Association of Port Authorities from 1998-99 and chairman of the US Delegation of AAPA, which represents more than 140 public port authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. From 2005-2007, Kornegay was also president of International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), which has member ports that handle more than 60% of the world’s seaborne trade in metric tons and more than 85% of the world’s container traffic in TEUs.
“While the Port of Houston Authority moves forward with an organized transition of leadership at the staff level, it is gratifying to know that the port authority is served by committed port commissioners and talented staff guided b