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People News: STB, Port of LA

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Chris Brown, Chief Harbor Engineer, Port of Los Angeles, Calif.

Chris Brown, Chief Harbor Engineer, Port of Los Angeles, Calif.

Surface Transportation Board (STB) General Counsel Craig M. Keats retires after 51 years of public service. Also, the Port of Los Angeles, Calif., elevates Chris Brown to Chief Harbor Engineer, overseeing the Engineering Division.


The STB on Jan. 3 reported the retirement of General Counsel Craig M. Keats. His deputy, Anika Cooper, will serve as acting General Counsel, which the agency said will ensure the “continuing smooth operation” of its Office of the General Counsel; the Office advises on legal matters and defends STB actions in court, usually in the U.S. Courts of Appeals.

Keats began his career in 1972 as an attorney at the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and has served continuously since then through the transition from the ICC to its successor, the STB, pursuant to the ICC Termination Act of 1995.

Having joined the Office of the General Counsel in 1980, Keats was appointed Deputy General Counsel in 2000 and General Counsel in 2013. He has briefed and argued many of the agency’s most important cases throughout the federal court system, according to the STB. Additionally, he was named the John T. Stewart, Jr. Transportation Lawyer of the Year in 2018 by the Federal Bar Association’s Transportation and Transportation Security Law Section.

“Craig has been an invaluable pillar of knowledge to the agency, providing sound and reliable counsel to many Board chairs and members, including myself, and mentoring numerous staff attorneys,” said STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman, who announced in November he will not seek renomination to a second term and depart in early 2024. “His wisdom, counsel, friendship, and quick wit have been essential to me, personally, and to the entire agency. He will be sorely missed. We wish him all the best on a well-earned retirement.”

Port of LA

(Port of LA Photograph)

Chris Brown is taking on the Chief Harbor Engineer position at the Port of Los Angeles, succeeding Dina Aryan-Zahlan, who was recently promoted to Deputy Executive Director of Development at the Port.

Brown will lead the planning, development, and design of infrastructure and facilities that support the Port’s wharf, terminal, rail, roadway and public space operations. He served most recently as Assistant Chief Harbor Engineer responsible for division sections handling structural, specifications, architectural and electrical elements of Port infrastructure projects. Previously, he was the Harbor Engineer in charge of division sections on structural, specifications, right of way, technology, and CADD. From 2000-2015, Brown held various roles—including Section Head, Program Manager, and Designer—on a number of projects, most notably as Project Manager for the Wilmington Waterfront Park, which won Engineering News Record’s “Best of the Best Award” in 2012, according to the Port.

Brown started his career as a student engineer at the Port in 1993. Following a four-year stint at Holmes & Narver (now AECOM), he returned to the Port. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California, and his master’s degree in structural engineering from the University of Maryland.

In addition to being a registered civil engineer in California, Brown is a certified construction documents technologist as designated by the Construction Specification Institute, where he serves as a Board member. He is also a senior certified professional with the Society for Human Resource Management.

“Chris has been a pivotal player in many Port infrastructure projects over the last two decades, including the award-winning Wilmington Waterfront Park and the current Port-wide electrification program,” Aryan-Zahlan said. “This promotion recognizes all his hard work, dedication and contributions to these critical infrastructure programs. We are excited and proud to see him take on this important leadership role.”

In related news, the Port of LA’s Alameda Corridor Terminus Gap Closure project was recently recognized as a top regional transportation improvement project by the American Public Works Association Southern California Chapter.

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