Board of Directors
The Port is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors appointed in equal numbers by the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Appointees represent a broad mix of business expertise and civic leadership.
BOARD CHAIR: Manuel Chavez
Chief Executive Officer of Mobile Infrastructure and chairman of The Port’s board of directors
Manuel Chavez is chief executive officer of Mobile Infrastructure, which is a privately held asset management firm focused on optimizing investments in real estate, transportation, and infrastructure. Manuel was appointed to the Port Authority Board of Directors in January 2017. Manuel serves on the Board of Trustees for the Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, The Cincinnati Art Museum, and is a member of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC). He was a founding member of the Friends of Children Society for the ProKids organization.
VICE CHAIR: Patricia Mann Smitson
Patricia Mann Smitson retired in February 2018 from American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati Dayton Region, where she served as Regional CEO of the disaster relief and health education and services organization. Under Ms. Smitson’s leadership, the organization expanded to serve a larger geographic region and was recognized nationally for its diversity and inclusion programs. Prior to joining the Red Cross in 2012, Ms. Smitson was an attorney at Thompson Hine. She joined the law firm in 1993 and was named Partner in Charge of the Cincinnati office in 2001, serving in that role for over nine years. Smitson is often recognized for her leadership and community service efforts, including YWCA Career Women of Achievement, Thompson Hine’s Diversity Champion Award, University of Cincinnati College of Law Distinguished Alumni Award, and Cincinnati Human Relations Commission Cultures and Connections Diversity Award. She was recently recognized as one of Cincinnati Enquirer’s 2019 Women of Year. She serves as Chair of The Port’s Finance Committee.
Dr. Pradeep K. Bekal, MD, FACG
Vice President, Clinical Affairs - Gastro Health
Dr. Pradeep Bekal is a board-certified gastroenterologist who serves as Vice President of Clinical Affairs for Gastro Health, one of the largest gastroenterology groups nationwide. He also sits on its Board of Directors. He was President of Ohio Gastroenterology & Liver Institute prior to its partnership with Gastro Health. The accomplished physician is well-known within the local and national GI communities for his proficiency in general and advanced endoscopic procedures and his leadership. He is Chief of Gastroenterology at The Christ Hospital. Dr. Bekal serves on the Board of Directors of the national advocacy organization, Digestive Health Physicians Association, and has served on its Executive Committee. He is also past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Asian Indian Alliance and past President of the American Association of Gastroenterologists of Indian Origin. He graduated from Madras Medical College in Chennai, India, and completed his Residency in Internal Medicine at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Hospital. He completed two fellowships at Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center and at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Rance G. Duke
Retired, Fort Washington Investment Advisors Inc.
Rance Duke retired in 2015 from the Western & Southern Financial Group, where he started as a supervisor in the Treasury Department and rose to Vice President, Head of Investment Grade Credit at its subsidiary Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc. He is the former Chair, Board of Trustees for Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, and is a current Trustee. Rance is a member on the boards of trustees for Bethesda Inc., Bethesda Foundation, and Cincinnati Art Museum. He previously served on the YMCA Board and was a member of the Community Advisory Board for Hospice of Cincinnati. He gained recognition as Vice Chair of the United Way and Community Chest Board of Directors. Rance was in the first class of the African American Leadership Development Program with the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati. He has over 37 years of treasury and investment experience at W & S.
Richard L. Fischer
Business Manager/Financial Secretary, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 212
Richard Fischer is the Business Manager / Financial Secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local Union 212 in Cincinnati. IBEW, Local 212's jurisdiction covers Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland Counties in Indiana; Brown, Clermont, and Hamilton Counties in Ohio; and Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton and Pendleton Counties in Kentucky. Fischer is a 29-year member of IBEW, Local 212 and handles the day-to-day operations of the organization. He also serves as a Trustee, presiding over the health care clinic and insurance for IBEW membership and families. He presently serves on the Executive Boards of the Ohio State IBEW Conference, Indiana State IBEW Conference, Cincinnati AFL/CIO, and the Greater Cincinnati Building Trades. Fischer was appointed to the Board in 2020 by Hamilton County Board of Commissioners.
Robert W. Fisher
Chairman, Quiet Star Capital
Robert "Bobby" Fisher is Chairman of Quiet Star Capital, an investment company dedicated to helping innovative growth companies and startups. He serves on the boards of 80 Acres (indoor urban architecture), AmTex (textile technology) and 4 Site (social media data analytics), as well as several other companies. He was a founding member and past co-chair of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC) and is on the executive team of the Jewish Federation. Bobby has served on the board of the Port since 2015. He is also very involved with the Green Light Fund, MORTAR and the Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition.
Angelita M. Jones
Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Personnel Services, Inc.
Angelita M. Jones is the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Personnel Services, Inc., a full-service staffing firm specializing in the recruitment and placement of temporary, contract, and professional personnel. She currently serves as Chair of the Trustee Board for Union Baptist Church, the oldest Black Baptist Church in Cincinnati. Angelita is very involved in the renovation of Union Baptist Cemetery and United American Cemetery, the oldest African American Cemetery in Ohio. She is treasurer of the Cincinnati chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, a member of the Underground Railroad Freedom Center Ambassadors, Avocates for Youth Education, National Council of Negro Women, The Union Foundation, and vice president of the Union’s Usher Board. Angelita has received numerous accolades during her career, including Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, YWCA Career Woman of Achievement, and the Mayor’s Hometown Hero Award, as well as numerous awards for her business.
Damon D. Jones
Chief Communications Officer, The Procter & Gamble Co.
Damon Jones leads efforts to ensure the world’s largest consumer goods company is recognized as one of the most trusted brands in the world. He leads a global organization responsible for P&G’s image and reputation and that of its nearly 100 brands. P&G’s global communications discipline includes brand and corporate communications, digital and social media, stakeholder engagement, issues advocacy and crisis management. Leveraging P&G’s significant industry presence, advertising spending and convening power, Jones also directs a broad portfolio of citizenship and advocacy efforts focused on driving equality for women, people of color and other under-represented groups. A trusted advisor to the C-suite, Jones has a proven track record of leveraging reputation and relationships to drive brand and business success, while guiding and enabling the company to be a force for good and a force for growth.
Charles J. Luken
Senior Counsel, Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
Charlie Luken is Senior Counsel at Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP, a full-service corporate law firm with an office in Cincinnati. He joined Calfee’s Government Relations and Legislation group in 2006, after holding the mayoral office of the City of Cincinnati twice – from 1983 to 1991 and then again from 1999 to December 2005. In addition to his experience as Mayor, he also served as a congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives for one term and practiced law in the private sector for 24 years.
Vice President, Community Relations, Castellini Management Company
Melissa Wideman is Vice President Community Relations for Castellini Management Company. She handles public relations, crisis communications for the Castellini Group of Companies, oversees the Castellini Foundation and manages government affairs and community relations. Previously, Wideman served as Senior Manager Government Affairs and Communications for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Prior to CVG, she spent 10 years working in campaigns and politics at the local, state and national level. Melissa is currently involved with 3CDC, Build Our Bridge Coalition, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Government Affairs Executive Committee, City of Cincinnati Economic Inclusion & Accountability Board and REDI Cincinnati. She is a former member of the City of Cincinnati Planning Commission and a graduate of C-Change Class 9 and Leadership Cincinnati Class 42.