Port Director of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), Mike Leone, was recently named “Person of the Year” by the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT) for his contributions to promote free and fair trade in the New England business community.

CONECT represents New England businesses that depend on trade by providing educational and networking opportunities and by serving as the political voice in promoting free and fair trade to this region. Leone was officially named at the organization’s ninth annual trade and transportation conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

“The Board of Directors of CONECT selected Mike to be named ‘Person of the Year’ for his success in bringing direct Asian steamship service to the Port of Boston,” said Carol Turner, Executive Director of CONECT. “This has been a tremendous benefit not only to CONECT members, but to the entire New England region.”

In addition to receiving the award, Leone was also recognized for his 2004 tenure as Chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). As Chairman, Leone headed up the Port Security Task Force, launched a Quality Partnership Initiative (QPI) with the US Army Corps of Engineers and was largely responsible for engineering the AAPA’s Seaports of the Hemisphere Allied Relationships for Excellence (SHARE) initiative.

Leone is the third person to receive CONECT’s prestigious “Person of the Year” award and joins Phil Spayd, former US Customs Director of Field Operations and Peter Powell, President of C.H. Powell Company.

“We are thrilled to learn that Mike Leone has received this important award,” said Craig Coy, Chief Executive Officer, Massport. “Mike’s commitment to his work has far reaching effects as evidence with this well deserved honor.”

“Mike Leone is highly regarded by his colleagues in the trade community” said Joan Padduck, Director of Global Trade Systems and President of CONECT. “He not only understands the needs of the shipping community, but he has brought about critical changes that have positively impacted our businesses.”

Mike Leone has served as Massport’s Director of the Port of Boston since 1998. Prior, he served as the chief legal counsel to Massport’s maritime division. Under Mike’s leadership, the Port of Boston has seen dynamic change in its operations and infrastructure. The completion of a $60 million harbor dredging project, more than $50 million in infrastructure investments, vital new shipping service including the inauguration of direct connections to Asian ports the emergence of Boston into one of the top cruise ports in North America are some of these changes.

Under Mike’s direction, the Port of Boston has been aggressive in its commitment to operate all of its facilities in an environmentally sound manner. In 2003, the Port of Boston earned the distinction of becoming the first fully operational port in the country to be ISO 14001 certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This year, the Port of Boston was one of few projects to be selected by the EPA to participate in the Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program.

CONECT is comprised of manufacturers, traders, importers, exporters, customs brokers, freight forwarders, NVOCCs, transportation providers, financial institutions, law firms, accounting firms, and consultants.