Richard Wainio, director and chief executive of the Tampa Port Authority, resigned unexpectedly on Wednesday, saying he wants to leave on a high note and spend more time with his two high school-age children.
Wainio, 62, said he would leave the job on Sept. 7 close to the end of the port’s fiscal year and after the Republican Convention meets in Tampa.
Wainio’s resignation surprised the port authority’s seven board members, who had unanimously renewed his contract for another two years in March.
A long-time port executive and veteran of the U.S. Panama Commission, Wainio said in an interview he does not have another job waiting but wants to stay in the maritime business.
Wainio said he had written his letter of resignation over the weekend. He said he wants to stop traveling and spend more time with his daughter, who is entering her senior year of high school this fall and son who is entering his first year.
He contacted the chairman of the port authority’s board of commissioners for a meeting Wednesday morning, during which he handed in his resignation letter. He later sent e-mails to the other TPA commissioners to announce his resignation.
Lawrence Shipp, chairman of TPA's governing board, told the Tampa Bay Times he tried to persuade Wainio to stay. "I had no idea that it was coming," Shipp said. "It was shocking to hear."
"My decision is purely personal based on family considerations and certain future issues," Wainio wrote in his resignation letter. "I have very much enjoyed working with many TPA commissioners and our exceptional port staff for over seven years."
Wainio has served as the Port of Tampa’s chief executive since 2005 and has led the expansion of its container facilities on Hooker’s Point, which is operated by Ports America.
Prior to his tenure at Tampa, Wainio was executive director at the Port of Palm Beach for two years and served as head of Manzanillo International Terminal in Panama for a year. He worked for the U.S. Panama Canal Commission for 23 years starting in 1975, first as senior economist, director of economic research and market development and, for the last eight years of his tenure, as director of executive planning.
Shipp said the port authority board would organize a committee to conduct a national search for Wainio's replacement and look to interview candidates for the position within 60 to 90 days.
"We're going to lose I think a wonderful CEO," Shipp said. "He's been a great asset to the port. But I'm always happy when someone has come to peace with what they want to do."