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May 9, 2022

Maine Port Authority promotes interim leader to executive director

The Maine Port Authority has named Matthew Burns, a former deck officer on ships around the world and a Maine Maritime Academy graduate, as executive director of the authority after he had served in an interim capacity for the past year.

He officially began his new role on May 1. The authority, a state agency, oversees port terminals in Portland, Searsport and Eastport as well as the state's railroad facilities.

Burns stepped in after the resignation of Jonathan Nass, who left the top post at the Maine Port Authority in March 2021 to take a job in Mississippi. 

Courtesy photo
Matthew Burns

Burns is a 2004 Maine Maritime Academy graduate who has nearly two decades of marine transportation experience. He has a strong knowledge of government funding programs and regulatory requirements for vessels and port facilities, according to the authority. Burns also holds a U.S. Coast Guard deck officer's license as a second mate unlimited.

After spending 13 years as a deck officer on passenger ships, tankers, dredges, and ultra-deep-water drill ships around the world, Burns joined the Maine Department of Transportation in 2017 as the director of ports and marine transportation. 

In that role, he was responsible for planning, funding and managing maritime infrastructure projects in Maine's seaports. He also coordinated the department's small harbor improvement program and boating infrastructure grant program.

"This position garnered a lot of interest from around New England and beyond," said Wade Merritt, president of the Maine International Trade Center, who led the port authority’s search committee. "Matt's combination of maritime and portside experience, leadership qualities, and understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the state and the Maine Port Authority's role in helping solve them made him the consensus choice over serious competition.”

Bruce Van Note, MaineDOT Commissioner and chair of the Maine Port Authority board, added, "Matt's maritime background, interpersonal skills and solution-oriented approach, coupled with the strong relationships within the port industry, will serve the MPA and Maine."

Burns said, “I want to thank the members of the Maine Port Authority board for giving me the privilege to serve the people of the State of Maine in this role. I have always felt a very close connection to the sea and always wanted to pursue a career on the ocean."

Burns lives in Winthrop with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters.

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