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Port of New Orleans' chief resigning amid praise for moves to advance new cargo terminal project

NEW ORLEANS — (AP) — The Port of New Orleans' president and chief executive officer, who won praise for advancing plans for a new international cargo terminal project, is resigning to pursue an opportunity in the private sector.

Brandy Christian, who has served in the leadership post since 2017, will step down in mid-June, the port said Tuesday in a news release praising her for “exemplary leadership.” Her next steps were not immediately disclosed.

“Under Christian’s guidance, Port NOLA has navigated through profound challenges and achieved remarkable successes. ... Through her vision and leadership, Christian has positioned Port NOLA to regain its place as the premier destination within the global supply chain as we embark on a transformational economic development project in the Louisiana International Terminal," said Walter Leger Jr., chairman of the port's Board of Commissioners.

Christian was seen as instrumental in moving forward with a state-of-the-art terminal project, also known as LIT, which is likely to start construction next year in Violet. Officials said they hope the project, once completed, would stem the bleeding of container cargo volume to competitors including the nearby port in Mobile, Alabama.

Christian came to New Orleans from the Port of San Diego, where she had started in the ports sector after three years as a management consultant following post-graduate work on public sector management at the University of Southern California. She has been one of only about a dozen women in charge of major U.S. ports since she took the top job at Port NOLA.

Chief Financial Officer Ronald Wendel Jr. will serve as the port’s interim leader. The port didn’t immediately say how it plans to conduct a formal search to replace Christian.

Christian led the acquisition of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, which gave the port control of the city's switching rail infrastructure and direct access to all six Class I national rail operators, the Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

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