Richard G. Wilson ’68 MPA Managing Alaska’s Largest Port

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Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson is the Port Director for Port of Anchorage, Alaska. He earned his MPA from the Maxwell School in 1968, and also holds a BA in government from Pomona College. A native of San Diego, CA, Richard has lived and worked in Anchorage, AK since 1974.

The Port of Anchorage serves as the gateway for most of the goods coming into Alaska – 90% of the consumer goods for 85% of the State.  As a “landlord port,” it provides planning, financing, development, operations and management of land, docks and support services for 450 container ships, bulk petroleum tankers, tour ships, military deployment and Coast Guard ships, and barge vessels. The Port is an enterprise entity owned by the Municipality of Anchorage, in contrast to the port authority model, with the Director appointed by the Mayor and subject to municipal code. The entity operates on internally generated user fees, and funds the capital budget from Port bonds and state and federal grants.

Currently, Richard is involved in the Port’s project to replace aging docks and add berthing and uplands through investments on the order of $700 million. In his role, Richard has plans for a Business Development Plan and a Master Plan Update to help the Port remain efficient, and strategically select facility improvements. Additionally, the Port is working with the petroleum and hydro power industries to offer logistical support to energy projects throughout Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.

In Richard’s previous role as the City Administrator of a tiny community in the Bering Sea, St. George Island, his community was honored with the “All-America City Award” – the first American Native community to win it! Other tales Richard has to tell of his career and life experience in Alaska? “Oh yes, I did the “Deadliest Catch” thing on a crabber named “Progress” one winter and lived to tell the tale…”

When asked about his most memorable Maxwell experience, Richard shared, “Professor Spencer Parrott, in his Administrative Law class in the mid 1960’s, must have sensed some of us were experiencing an identity crisis.  One day he commented:  ‘All you students! The new generation filled with lofty goals. Did you ever consider that if you had lived fifty years ago, a good number of you would not be going to Maxwell – you would be heading for careers as ministers and such!’ It was an ‘a-ha!’ moment validating my own deep motivations to serve my community and the world.”

Richard’s main advice for current students and others embarking on their careers: “Allow yourself to follow more than one path in life to discover how rich it can be as a citizen of the world.”

Richard can be contacted at richwilsonak@gmail.com.

To read more alumni profiles, visit the Office of Alumni Relations website.

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