VMA presents awards for Port Champion and Distinguished Service, names Life Members, and celebrates Spirit of Norfolk heroes.

On September 29, 2022, the Virginia Maritime Association’s (VMA) 102nd annual Maritime Banquet returned to celebrate the progress of Virginia’s ports and associated supply chain industries, as well as the contributions of specific individuals. Before an audience of over 800 industry executives and dignitaries gathered at the Hilton Norfolk | The Main, the VMA presented its 2022 “Port Champion Award” and “Distinguished Service Award,” also presenting two long-serving industry leaders with “Honorary Lifetime Membership.”

VMA President George Brown
VMA President George Brown

On June 7, 2022, a fire broke out in the engine room of the passenger ship Spirit of Norfolk while underway on a sightseeing cruise with 108 passengers and crew onboard, including large groups of school-age children. During the banquet, the U.S. Coast Guard joined with VMA to recognize the mariners who acted with skill, professionalism, and bravery to rescue the passengers and crew of the Spirit of Norfolk as it burned. Coast Guard awards for Distinguished Public Service, Meritorious Public Service, and VMA Resolutions of Appreciation were presented to crew members based on their individual actions during the rescue.

Chairman Barry Knight, Port Champion, 2022

The title of “Port Champion” is only awarded to individuals that, without having direct business interests, have embraced the maritime community with a spirit of cooperation and whose actions have substantively improved Virginia’s ports and marine transportation system.

The Virginia Maritime Association is privileged to have had the service of the Honorable Barry D. Knight since he was first elected to be a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 2009, representing the 81st House District, and where he currently serves as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Chairman Knight has and continues to serve on numerous governing bodies critical to the preservation, performance, and development of the Commonwealth’s waterways and highways, and its programs and assets which support economic development. His efforts have protected the marine terminals of the Commonwealth, improved their governance, and maintained an open and competitive business environment in Virginia’s port operations. Chairman Knight’s support has included leading multiple legislative efforts to fund the optimization of Norfolk International Terminals, the widening and deepening of the shipping channels to 55 feet, the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program, and Virginia’s first International Trade Plan. His significant contributions will accelerate growth in the Commonwealth’s maritime industry which already generates employment of over 530,000 Virginians, more than $88 billion in annual statewide spending, and 10.1% of gross state product.

Catherine “Katie” Carney, Distinguished Service, 2022

The “Distinguished Service” award is bestowed to industry leaders who demonstrate extended involvement and readiness to assist the Maritime Industry in promoting, protecting, and encouraging Virginia’s ports.

The Virginia Maritime Association is privileged to have the service of Catherine “Katie” Carney, Principal Owner of Carney Trade Consulting, LLC, who in 1975 began her career in the customs brokerage industry. As a licensed customs broker since 1980, a Certified Customs Specialist, and Accredited Zone Specialist; Ms. Carney built a career as a widely known and respected industry expert on Foreign Trade Zones, Bonded Warehousing, and In Bond operations with an emphasis on duty avoidance. She has held many leadership roles, including in the Virginia Maritime Association, Virginia Brokers Association, Virginia Port Authority Advisory Committee, the Virginia Freight Advisory Committee, and the National Foreign Trade Zone Association. Ms. Carney has acted with the utmost integrity and distinction as a tireless advocate for her importer and exporter customers, and for maritime and supply chain interests more broadly; and has utilized her extensive knowledge and influence to advance endeavors which position the Port of Virginia to become the preeminent port on the U.S. East Coast.

Honorary Life Membership

Honorary Life Membership in the Virginia Maritime Association connotes substantive service to the Association, its membership, and its mission and is not awarded casually.

Roger J. Giesinger

Roger Giesinger began his career in the maritime industry in 1972, and has served the last 28 years as President and Chief Negotiator of the Hampton Roads Shipping Association. He has produced numerous and repeated notable accomplishments in the areas of labor relations, negotiations of collective bargaining agreements, workforce training, processing new longshoremen into the industry, fostering a safety-first culture on the waterfront, and innovation and technological improvements in port operations. Mr. Giesinger has held numerous leadership roles, including serving on the Board or holding other leadership roles in the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), MILA Managed Health Care Trust Fund, HRSA-ILA Funds, and Virginia Maritime Association. He has served on various other industry and philanthropic Boards. Mr. Giesinger is the 2014 recipient of the Virginia Maritime Association Distinguished Service Award, and he has announced his retirement effective December 31, 2022.

J.J. “Jeff” Keever

J.J. Keever originally joined the staff of Hampton Roads Maritime Association (today’s Virginia Maritime Association) and the Hampton Roads Shipping Association in May of 1977 and worked in various positions through 1988. He rejoined the Associations in January 1991 and served as Executive Vice President of the HRMA and HRSA until he joined the Virginia Port Authority in 2004. He served as the Senior Deputy Executive Director at the VPA through 2013. In 2001, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the HRMA for his accomplishments in the industry. From 2010 to 2013, J.J. served as Chairman of the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition, during which time he established relationships with developers and OEM’s throughout Europe and worked to deconflict a lease block off the Virginia coastline. He joined T. Parker Host in 2016 to focus on business development and special projects. He now works as HOST’s Government Affairs Representative, most recently as part of HOST’s Avondale Marine facility in New Orleans, LA. Prior to joining Host full-time, he served the company in a consulting capacity for many years. J.J. holds a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Richmond.

Spirit of Norfolk Rescue Honorees

U.S. Coast Guard awards for Distinguished Public Service, Meritorious Public Service, and VMA Resolutions of Appreciation were presented to crew members based on their individual actions to rescue 108 passengers and crew from the June 7, 2022, fire aboard the Spirit of Norfolk.

Captain Ryan Nadeau
Brain Bracey, CJ Brown, George Eley, Bob Enloe, Glorymarie Nunez, Jeremiah Perry

Captain Brandon Peter, Corey Roy, Jim Cheek, Alex Dubik, Lawson Taliaferro

Captain Larry Sullivan Aaron Flippin, Michael Hanna, Jr, Tristen Harris, Ricardo Navedo

Captain Nicholas Coffiey Henry Eley, Thomas Farlow, William Hewes, Jonathan Wright

Captain Jim Miller
Ben Brown, Cody Dillow, Garrett Ivy

Captain Will Kennedy Justin Moak