Port Staff Bios
|Manuel Almira, PPM®, Executive Director|
|Manuel Almira has more than 35 years of experience in the maritime industry, with expertise in international imports and exports that is bolstered by extensive knowledge in marketing within the South Florida market. Upon joining the Port of Palm Beach in 2008, Almira exacted strict budgetary controls, that, within 18 months, brought the Port from a $3.1 million deficit to a profit for the first time in more than a decade. As of 2016, the port has had five consecutive years of positive financial results.
Almira has been instrumental in bringing new business to the port over the past eight years, including two multi-day passenger vessels, a casino day cruise and metal exporter. As business continues to grow, infrastructure improvements that accommodate increased throughput are underway. In 2015, Almira oversaw the $27.2 million restoration and redevelopment of the port's southern-most slip. Beginning July 2016, Almira will oversee the $11 million construction of a mini-slip, located at the port's southern-most berth.
Cuban-born and raised in New York, Mr. Almira is a graduate of Bernard Baruch College, City University of New York. He is a recipient of the Florida Governor's Business Ambassador Medal and earned the American Association of Port Authorities Professional Port Manager (PPM) Certification in 2013, concentrating on the feasibility and implementation of an inland port distribution center to service all three of the major South Florida ports, with the principle focus of controlling expenses.
|Paul Zielinski, Deputy Port Director & Chief Financial Officer|
|Mr. Zielinski has been with the Port of Palm Beach since 2006. In his position as Chief Financial Officer of the Port of Palm Beach, he is responsible for all matters related to financial planning, finance, accounting, budgeting, human resource management and information systems. He also assumes the lead in all financial negotiations that are related to contract renewals and new business of our $150 million organization.
Zielinski develops and monitors the annual operating and capital budgets of the Port and works to maximize the return and maintain the security of nearly $20 million of the Port’s cash and investment assets.
As Deputy Port Director, Zielinski supports the Port Executive Director in all aspects of Port business while also proactively proving business advice, technical support and project management execution to senior staff.
Prior to joining the Port of Palm Beach, Zielinski spent seven years with the Broward County School Board holding directorships in the Budget Office, Administrative Services and SAP Support Center. While at the School Board he directed the development, control and reporting of a $3.5 billion annual budget and negotiated vendor contracts in excess of $25 million.
Before to relocating to Florida, Zielinski spent almost 20 years with the Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While with Miller Brewing he held several high-level Directors positions in Director of Strategic Planning, Distribution Management, Corporate Information Systems and Marketing Information Analysis as well as acting as the Comptroller of the western region where he provided comprehensive financial support and analysis to a business unit with more than $1.5 billion in sales.
Zielinski earned his Bachelors of Business Administration at Bernard M. Baruch College with a concentration in public and private accounting.
|Jarra Kaczwara, Senior Director of Business Development|
|Ms. Kaczwara has more than 20 years of in-depth experience and leadership in the maritime industry. She is an accomplished professional in both international and domestic trade.
Her leadership, interpersonal and negotiation skills have enabled her to successfully secure and retain new and existing business at the Port for more than a decade.
Her responsibilities encompass the development of new business in the sectors of cargo, cruise, real estate and the Foreign Trade Zone for the Port.
Communications and Public Relations are also incorporated in her division.
Since joining the Port of Palm Beach in 1999, she has held the positions of Manager of Marketing and Director of Business Development before being promoted to her current position of Senior Director of Business Development in 2007. Prior to joining the Port of Palm Beach, she was with the Port of Houston Authority.
|Ken Hern, Director of Seaport Operations & Security|
|Ken Hern is the Director of Seaport Operations & Security for the Port of Palm Beach, a position he has held since 2005. He created a first of its kind "One Port-One Plan" security approach which was quickly approved by the United States Coast Guard, thereby ensuring that the Port and its tenants were one of the first ports in Florida to achieve compliance with the Maritime Transportation Security Act, including the unique requirements of Florida law.
In 2006, Ken was appointed by Florida's Governor Bush to serve as a member of the State's Seaport Security Standards Advisory Council. He is the Port's liaison to the Area Maritime Security Committee with the United States Coast Guard-Sector Miami and a board member of the South East Regional Domestic Security Task Force Advisory Board- Region 7, and is an active member of the Maritime Work Group with local law enforcement.
Under his direction, over $7 million dollars in Federal and State security grants have been awarded to the Port and its law enforcement partners to prevent, deter, respond, and recover from acts of aggression or terrorism.
Ken comes from an extensive background in security defense and technology, with service to the US Army as an Airborne qualified, Military Police Officer. His training includes anti-terrorism tactics and characteristics, chemical, nuclear, biological and explosives warfare.
Ken resides in Port Saint Lucie with his wife of 23 years, Debbie.
|Carl Baker, Director of Planning & Development|
Carl Baker is currently the Director of Planning and Development. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, strategic planning, long range land use policy, future transportation strategies, grant writing along with construction project oversight and coordination.
|Daniel Kirchman, CPA, Port Controller|
|Daniel Kirchman has been with the Port of Palm Beach since 2010. In his role as the Port Controller, charged with managing the Finance and Accounting department, Danny oversees the preparation of annual independent audit reports; prepares annual budgets and monthly financial analysis and management reports; and ensures proper accounting and financial controls are in place.
Mr. Kirchman has more than 30 years of experience in public, governmental and commercial accounting. He previously spent 15 years with local and national CPA firms focused in the industries of banking, health care, non-profit, governmental, pension plans, and individual and corporate tax clients. He was also the controller of a petroleum distributor and convenience store chain corporation.
He is a licensed CPA in the state of Florida and a Chartered Global Management Accountant. Further, he is a member of the American and Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Florida Government Finance Officers Association. He is also a past president of the Rotary Club of Belle Glade.
A native Floridian from Belle Glade, Danny graduated high school from Glades Day School and received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, with honors, from the University of Arkansas.
|Beatrice Greffin, Manager of Human Resources & Payroll|
Beatrice Greffin has been employed with the Port of Palm Beach as of November 2010. Ms. Greffin nicknamed "Ms. B", by her fellow employees has over 15 years in the field of Human Resources. She is also the Port's Foreign Trade Zone representative.
|Richard Laird, Director of Information Technology|
|Richard Laird joined the District in 2002 as a systems administrator. Promoted to information technology manager in 2008, he is now responsible for all aspects of information technology at the Port as the Director of Information Technology.
Working in the IT field full time since 1987, Richard came to Port of Palm Beach after serving 10 years in the US Navy as a Data Systems Technician 1st class. Richard holds certifications in Microsoft and Cisco among other technologies.
|Peggy Gandiaga, Director of Commissioner Affairs|
|Peggy S. Gandiaga was appointed Director of Commission Affairs and Records Administration in August 2004.
Ms. Gandiaga serves as the administrative head of the District office responsible for the activities of records management; fills the statutory requirements of Records Management Liaison Officer (RMLO) and Records Custodian, Clerk to the Board of Commissioners, Public Assistance Coordinator, assists in the general administration of the District office and is responsible for the development and management of programs designed to address primary areas of District service.
She brings to her position broad-based managerial experience from the fields of advertising, marketing, research & development, procurement, investor and public relations, office administration, claims management, and records administration.
Born in West Palm Beach, Ms. Gandiaga traveled extensively until 1988 when she returned to Florida. She began her career with the Port of Palm Beach in 1998 and currently holds a Masters of Science degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University.