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 M. Chavez III
Founder & CEO, Bombe Limited
Manuel Chavez is Founder & CEO of Bombe, an alternative asset management group. Manuel was appointed to the Port Authority Board of Directors in January 2017, by Mayor John Cranley. He succeeds former Cincinnati Mayor and U.S. Congressman Charlie Luken as Chairperson. Luken, Senior Counsel at Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP, an Ohio corporate law firm with an office in Cincinnati, has been board chair since January 2016. 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 Pro Kids organization. He is or has been a member of the Urban Land Institute, NPA, IPI, a founding and executive member of NAPITA, and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He is a Miami University alumnus.
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
Ohio Gastroenterology & Liver Institute
Dr. Pradeep K. Bekal, MD, FACG, is a Board-Certified Gastroenterologist who practices at Ohio Gastroenterology & Liver Institute, where he has been a member of its Governing Board for eight years. The accomplished physician is well-known within the local medical community and within the national GI community for his proficiency with advanced endoscopic procedures, such as ERCP and endoscopic ultrasound. He is Director of Endoscopy at The Christ Hospital, and teaches both medical students and Christ Hospital residents. Dr. Bekal is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Asian Indian Alliance, and 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 Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.
Sister Sally Duffy, SC
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
Sister Sally Duffy, SC is a well-known champion for those Greater Cincinnatians who live in poverty. She is the retired Executive Director of SC Ministry Foundation, a grant and policy organization dedicated to serving the region’s most vulnerable residents. At SC Ministry, she was responsible for its daily operations as well as its strategic direction around grant-making. In the past 20 years, SC Ministry has supported nearly 1,000 non-profit organizations locally, nationally and internationally, with more than $160MM in grants that align with promoting just conditions to ensure that everyone can choose to maximize their potential. She is involved in the Cincinnati Childhood Poverty Collaborative, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati Public Policy Committee and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Diverse by Design initiative; and serves on the board of Ohio Justice & Policy Center, a criminal-justice advocacy organization.
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 and Chief Executive Officer, Washing Systems LLC
Bobby Fisher is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Washing Systems LLC, a leading provider of specialty chemicals and related products to the industrial uniform and linen rental markets. Fisher has also served in executive roles for the Texo Corporation, and Premier Manufacturing Support Services. Fisher serves as board member and treasurer of West Chester Holdings LLC, and is a founding member of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee. Most recently, Fisher was named co-chair of the Build Our Bridge Now Coalition.
Damon D. Jones
Chief Communications Officer, The Procter & Gamble Co.
Damon D. Jones leads global family care and P&G Ventures communications. Prior, he served as director of global company communications. His 2018 promotion aligns with Procter & Gamble’s initiative to combine its brand and company communications teams into a single, integrated global organization. Damon was appointed to the Board in 2016. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Xavier University.
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 Arts and Technology Studios Board, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Government Affairs Executive Committee, City of Cincinnati Economic Inclusion & Accountability Board, REDI Cincinnati and the Regional Tourism Network Board. 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.