A new era is here for the Steamship Authority as the ferry service bids farewell to three longtime senior staff members and welcomes a new general counsel.
Steamship Authority Port Captain Charles “Greg” Gifford, who for the past 15 years has been in charge of the SSA’s day-to-day vessel operations, officially retired on June 15. General Counsel Steve Sayers, who announced his retirement plans last year, will officially turn over the reigns as in-house attorney to Terence Kenneally at the end of July. In addition to Gifford and Sayers, Director of Human Resources Phillip Parent — the longest tenured of the three — is set to retire at the end of August.
“I have worked with each of them for years, which allowed me to witness first-hand the dedication to service they each exemplified, as well as the commitment they’ve shown to improving the quality of service we offer,” said Steamship Authority General Manager Robert Davis.
“We’ve known this day was coming for a long time. I’m grateful to have had had the opportunity to work alongside such consummate professionals,” Davis said. “We have already hired Steve Sayers’ successor and are in the process of hiring a new Human Resources Director and Port Captain.”
Gifford is the man responsible for creating and overseeing the Steamship Authority’s rigorous training programs for vessel crews, which include rescue boat training, firefighting and the overall safety of the crew and passengers in the event of an emergency, a press release from the agency stated. "On three separate occasions over the past decade, Steamship Authority crews have rescued fishermen stranded in nearby waters as well as a passenger who fell overboard during a night trip several years ago. In each instance their training regimen came into play. The crews received commendations for their live-saving efforts from the Steamship Authority as well as from the local U.S. Coast Guard Sector."
With decades of experience on deep sea vessels and tankers before joining the Steamship Authority, Gifford said one of the most rewarding aspects of his tenure with the ferry service was support for budget dollars to institute the training programs that exceed U.S. Coast Guard standards for the Steamship Authority vessels.
“Not only has that training directly saved lives, I believe it has also given our crews more skills and confidence in providing safe travel for the millions of passengers we ferry between the Cape and Islands each year,” Gifford said.
Sayers, who became the ferry service’s only in-house attorney in 1992 after representing the boat line in private practice since 1985, will be succeeded by Terence Kenneally an accomplished civil attorney who has assisted the Steamship Authority with dozens of legal proceedings while at Clinton & Muzyka, P.C. in Boston since 2004. Kenneally began with the Steamship Authority on May 1, 2018 and will work side-by-side with Sayers until Sayers last official day on July 31, 2018.
In addition to Kenneally’s extensive experience assisting the Steamship Authority on legal matters, he brings with him a wealth of prior experience, having worked as in-house counsel and operations manager for an international shipping company in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he was responsible for overseeing and managing all legal, operational and risk management issues.
"Kenneally has big shoes to fill as Sayers spent years nurturing strong labor relations as well as navigating complex legal challenges for a constantly evolving industry," the release stated. What Sayers found most rewarding about his career with the Steamship Authority, he said, is that “I hope that I am leaving this organization better than I found it. As little as my contributions may have been, I take pride knowing that together we have been able to improve the quality of life for our employees, the strength of the organization as a whole, and lives of the people in the communities we serve.”
Another high profile retirement is that of Parent, who has been with the Steamship Authority for the past 48 years. Parent began as a ticket-seller and dock worker in 1970, climbed the ranks, having served as a ticket agent, terminal agent, terminal manager, and operations manager before being promoted to Director of Human Resources in 1991.
Although Parent initially planned to retire last year, he agreed to stay on for an extra year to help smooth the transition between from the previous general manager, who retired last summer, to current General Manager Robert Davis, who then took over as the top administrator of the ferry service.
“Over the years, I’ve gotten to know the customers and employees very well. When I first started we had two steamships. What I’ll miss most are the customers and co-workers. We have a great group of employees here,” Parent said, adding that he and his wife plan to work on their travel destination bucket-list starting in the fall.
It is never easy to replace such valuable employees, Steamship Authority General Manager Robert Davis said, but "the Steamship Authority has already hired a top notch General Counsel and is the process of finding a new Director of Human Resources, and Port Captain," the release stated.
“We are saying goodbye to extremely talented people. Thankfully, they are leaving behind a culture that sets us on a course for continued success and which will continue to draw the best and brightest in the maritime industry,” Davis said.