The Ventura Board of Port Commissioners has new leadership and a new member, the Ventura Port District announced.
Commissioner Chris Stephens is now chairman of the five-member board, taking the reins from Commissioner Everard Ashworth, and Commissioner Jean Getchell takes over as board secretary. Commissioner Brian Brennan continues as vice chairman.
New to the board is local attorney Jackie Gardina. Confirmed on March 4 by the Ventura City Council, Gardina fills the post vacated by former Commissioner Jim Friedman, who left to join the Ventura City Council after he won that election in November.
Stephens’ and Gardina’s terms expire on June 30, 2021. Getchell’s term runs through June 30, 2019. Brennan’s term runs through 2020 and Ashworth’s through 2022.
Rolling up their sleeves
With the personnel now in place, the board is set to get down to the task of enhancing life, leisure and business at Ventura Harbor.
There is much to be done, said Port District General Manager Oscar Pena. “Among many other things, in recent years, the staff has been working with the board to make infrastructure improvements throughout the harbor and Harbor Village,” said Pena, who added that he’s confident in the abilities of staff and the board, which he said “has a clear vision of making the harbor a better place for the benefit of the public.”
“The Harbor District is ready for the busy year ahead of it,” said new Chairman Stephens, a port commissioner since 2017 and retired director of the Ventura County Resource Management Agency. “We look forward to the opening of the first units at the new Portside Ventura Harbor, as well as the expanded Holiday Inn Express. In addition, we will continue our efforts to bolster the commercial fishing industry with our pursuit of the Ventura Shellfish Enterprise project, and we will be freshening up the Harbor Village to provide an improved visitor experience.”
For her part, new Commissioner Gardina brings with her an interest in environmental changes and their effects on the Harbor.
“The future of the harbor is very much going to be intertwined with climate change and making sure that we’re creating a resilient coast and a sustainable harbor,” Gardina said. “Coastal communities must address climate change not just for the next five years but thinking ahead, to 10, 20, 25 years from now and beyond.”
A Ventura resident, Gardina is dean and chief academic officer of the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law. A philanthropist by nature, she has served on multiple professional and nonprofit boards, including with the American Bar Association, the State Bar of California and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
She is an avid outdoorsperson who spends a lot of her leisure time in the ocean off Ventura, kayaking in the harbor and taking boat trips to the Channel Islands for days of hiking.
Born in Davenport, Iowa, Gardina never saw an ocean for the first 20 years of her life. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Iowa, she headed east to New England, where she earned her master’s degree in social work from Boston University and her Juris Doctor from Boston College – and she discovered the Atlantic. “I just really, instantly fell in love with the ocean,” she said.
In 2016, Gardina and her wife, Lauren, headed west to the Pacific, arriving in Ventura, which they immediately embraced. “We’ve really adopted Ventura as our new home,” Gardina said, “and we have benefited a great deal from the Harbor and the open ocean. In fact, before we even moved out here, we’d already made reservations with Island Packers and within two weeks of arriving, we were hiking on Santa Cruz Island.”
The Ventura Port District, home to the Channel Islands National Park, provides a safe and navigable harbor and a seaside destination that benefits residents, visitors, fishermen and boaters to enjoy Ventura Harbor’s exceptional facilities, events and services.
The District oversees the management and operations of the Ventura Harbor, a 274-acre multiple-use recreational and commercial fishing small-craft harbor, with the goal of providing a rewarding and vibrant coastal marine experience. To learn more about Ventura Harbor programs, marinas, meetings and happenings, visit VenturaHarbor.com.