AUSTIN, TX- The Port of Harlingen Authority Port Director, Walker Smith, has been installed as the new president of the Gulf Ports Association (GPA). The Association is a trade organization dedicated to enhancing economic development and encouraging commerce for deep-water and shallow-draft public ports in the Gulf Coast area. 

“Ports are critical economic drivers throughout our Nation,” Smith said. “I am both honored and humbled to be able to lead the Gulf Ports Association and work with many partners who represent ports large and small.”

GPA has been in existence since 1945, created in New Orleans, LA. At the time of its inception, there were 13 public port members in the five gulf states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Today, there are 36 member ports. The purpose of the organization remains the same from its creation, specifically, to promote waterborne commerce through gulf ports. The organization meets bi-annually for conferences and as needed throughout the year at various port locations.

“Our organization provides a forum through which our member ports can address mutual concerns; to educate the public and elected officials to the economic impact of gulf ports; and, to provide users of ports in the gulf with innovatively managed and environmentally responsible facilities,” said Pat Younger, GPA Executive Director. “This is the first time in the 33 years I have been associated with the Gulf Ports Association that the membership has elected a port director from a shallow draft port as its President. That speaks to the confidence that the five – state member ports have in Walker Smith.

Younger added, as President, Smith will lead the Association in its pursuit of funding for its 38 member ports and continue its mission to educate elected officials and the public on the critical importance of waterborne commerce to our Nation.

Smith previously served as the first Vice – President for the last two years and Second Vice- President for two years. He replaces long-time President, Amy Miller, Port of Pensacola. Also serving as officers with Smith are First Vice- President Chett Chiasson, Port Fourchon and Second Vice- President Alex King, Port of Panama City. Each will serve a two-year term.

In addition to serving as President for GPA, Smith is also a committee member of the South Texas Area Maritime Security committee and the Intracoastal Shallow Draft Ports committee.  Walker is also an active member in the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, Inland Rivers Port and Terminals and the American Association of Port Authorities, the Texas Ports Association as well as a former member of the Port Authority Advisory Committee (PAAC) for the State of Texas.

 For more information about The Gulf Ports Association, contact Pat Younger, executive director, at (713) 816-6477 or at For more information about The Port of Harlingen Authority, contact Amy Lynch, director of public relations and marketing, at (56) 423-0283 or