Tom Saunders

Head of Government Affairs
Ports America

Tom is a dynamic supply chain industry executive who develops and executes federal, state, and local government relations for Ports America, the leading U.S. marine terminal operator and stevedore company. Ports America is a seaport industry leader in generating public-private partnerships (PPP), operating in over 70 locations and 33 ports. Tom has played a pivotal role in negotiating and managing these partnerships. The company provides container, bulk, breakbulk, auto/RoRo, military, and cruise services and has a global supply chain connection. Tom has been instrumental in making Ports America one of the top container terminal operators in the U.S., with a network of 28 container terminals and 18 U.S. ports, handling approximately 19.2 million TEU annually, which accounts for one-third of the U.S. container market share.

Before joining Ports America in January 2017, Tom served as Senior Policy Advisor for the late Congressman Donald Payne Sr. and the late Congressman Donald Payne Jr. for over seven years. His contributions were not just focused but pivotal in expanding and redeveloping port/multimodal infrastructure, including Port Newark, New Jersey, the birthplace of global containerization. This experience has honed his ability to drive significant change and make a lasting impact in his field.

Tom’s outstanding achievements include leading maritime terminal operator policy advocacy efforts around the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022. His strategic lobbying and negotiation skills were instrumental in shaping the final legislation. He also spearheaded federal multimodal freight advocacy, particularly around the passage and implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This landmark legislation has significantly boosted the country’s goods movement and freight infrastructure development. Tom’s role in its success underscores his ability to navigate complex legislative processes and drive impactful change.

Tom is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a native of New Jersey. His extensive experience and outstanding leadership skills are evident in his current positions, including his role as Chair of the National Association of Waterfront Employers (NAWE), where he has been instrumental in shaping industry policies and advocating for the rights and interests of waterfront employers. He is also a Board member of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC), Board member of the Propeller Club of Washington DC, and Treasurer and Board member of the New Jersey State Society (NJSS). Tom and his wife, Elizabeth, enjoy traveling and spending quality time with family and friends.