James Thompson was appointed as Acting Executive Director of the Washington Public Ports Association in June 2019, and appointed permanent Executive Director by the Association’s Board of Trustees in September 2019. As Executive Director, James represents the state ports' interests to state and federal elected and appointed officials as well as to international and domestic business, trade and investment interests. James is also responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the Association, including administration, budget, communications, policy and strategic planning functions. James Thompson joined the Washington Public Ports Association in 2014 as the Senior Director of Trade and Transportation and in Affairs Director. In 2016, he was promoted to Deputy Director.

James’ experience includes roles as Director of International Logistics and Trade for the Terex Corporation (including Genie Industries) and North American Transportation Manager for Starbucks Coffee Company. Early in his career, he worked in state government with a variety of state agencies in Olympia. He is a native of Cowlitz County and has lived in six port districts including Walla Walla, Port Angeles, Wahkiakum, Longview, Olympia and Seattle. His career in the global logistics industry has taken him to ports throughout the world, giving him a wide array of experience to serve the interest of the public ports of Washington State.


Gerry O'Keefe, Senior Director - Environmental Affairs

Gerry O’Keefe has spent nearly 25 years in public service in the State of Washington. He established the foundation for his career building budgets and analyzing legislation in the Office of Financial Management. At the Department of Ecology, he supported Governor Gregoire to establish a new water resources policy for the Columbia River that included negotiating landmark legislation and an associated $200 million bond issue. Mr. O’Keefe also secured agreements with the Colville and Spokane Tribes to provide additional water from the Columbia for the first time in 30 years. Leaving state service, he was appointed the Natural Resources Director for the Grant County Public Utility District in 2008. Implementing the utility’s $4 billion FERC license mitigation program, he experienced firsthand the challenges facing regulated entities. Returning to the wet side of the Cascades, O’Keefe served as Deputy Director of the Puget Sound Partnership and was appointed Executive Director by Governor Gregoire in 2011. Under his leadership, the Partnership developed science-based recovery goals and performance measures to assess and improve the health of Puget Sound. Joining the Washington Public Ports Association in 2013, he now serves as Senior Director of Environmental Affairs. His diverse experience informs a strategic approach to influencing state and federal regulators, provides a practical understanding of how regulations affect the regulated, and underpins a sophisticated understanding of how state government works in Olympia, Washington.

Gerry and his wife, Judy King, raised their children in Olympia. His interests include fly-fishing, travel adventures with Judy, volunteering for the YMCA Youth and Government program, and growing Bonsai trees.



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 Roe 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. 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.



In her role as Business Manager, Tasha Cilurso is responsible for the day-to-day administration of WPPA office operations, financial, and personnel management. Tasha comes from a diverse background, having spent over a decade in hotel management with Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group. Tasha holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington.

Tasha resides in Tumwater with her daughter, husband and two dogs. Outside of the office she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling to exotic destinations, reading, trying new recipes and spoiling her two black labs.



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.