2021 Annual Conference: Wednesday morning Speakers

James Kearns, Jones Walker LLP 

Jim is an attorney with the Maritime Practice Group at Jones Walker LLP, living and working in St. Louis.  In his more than 30 years of legal practice, Jim has represented owners, operators, and financial institutions in vessel financing transactions, and the owners and operators of ports and terminals in a variety of commercial transactions. He has served IRPT in various capacities for the past 10 years and is currently its Secretary and Treasurer.



Tom Fuhrhop, Environmental Restoration LLC

Mr. Fuhrhop has over 37 years of experience in the Environmental Services Industry, the last seven with Environmental Restoration, LLC., an industry leader in Emergency Response and Emergency Preparedness.  In his current position, he assists commercial clients to evaluate their facility needs so site-specific Facility Response Plans can be prepared and available, if needed.  As part of this preparation, he will support and participate in clients “worst case drills” so all stakeholders are familiar with the procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency.


Captain Jeff Monroe, IAMPE/HDR 

Captain Jeffrey Monroe is the primary Senior Port and Maritime Consultant with HDR, an international engineering and consulting firm. His role focuses on port and terminal management and planning, development, operations, transportation management, regulatory requirements, navigation and waterway analysis and freight and passenger logistics.  He is also the Director of Education and Standards, as well as a member of the Board of the International Association of Maritime and Port Executives (IAMPE). HDR is a sponsor of the IAMPE, a non-profit industry association dedicated to the education and development of maritime port managers and executives.

Capt. Monroe has over 40 years of professional experience in the maritime, aviation and transportation fields particularly in port and terminal development as well as vessel management, safety, security, and cargo handling.  He was the former Director of Ports and Transportation for the City of Portland, Maine and was previously the Deputy Port Director at the Massachusetts Port Authority.  He has testified before the United States Congress as an expert witness four times in relation to port safety and security and served as Chairman of the federal advisory committee that dealt with navigation safety reporting to the Commandant of the US Coast Guard and Chairman of the committee reporting to the US Secretary of Homeland Security on National Maritime Security. Capt. Monroe is the former President of the North Atlantic Ports Association and also served on several committees with the American Association of Port Authorities. In the last decade, he has completed over 50 port, terminal and maritime projects with HDR.

He is the seminar leader for the Maritime Executive Program and was the exclusive trainer for the Canadian National Defense Force Transportation and Movement Command and trained US Navy, Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command personnel in port operations and logistics. Capt. Monroe was awarded the Meritorious Public Service Award and Medal and a Citation for Outstanding Service twice by the Commandant of the US Coast Guard and a Commendation for Outstanding Public Service Contributions to Marine Safety by the Commander of the First District, US Coast Guard.  He was also presented the Security Partnership Award by the Department of Homeland Security; the Award for Outstanding Service and Leadership by the North Atlantic Ports Association; and the Transportation Security and Law Enforcement Partnership Award by the Transportation Security Administration.

Capt. Monroe holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Transportation from Maine Maritime Academy; a Master of Science Degree in Transportation Management from the State University of New York; a U.S. Coast Guard issued Federal License as Master, Steam and Motor Vessels, Any Gross Tonnage, Oceans; numerous professional maritime certifications and is an Accredited Marine Port ExecutiveTM, endorsed by the Loeb-Sullivan Graduate School of International Business and Logistics at Maine Maritime Academy.

In addition to his consulting work, he has authored several professional texts including Marine Radionavigation and Communications and the Dictionary of Marine and Transportation Terms.  He is also a contributing author for the Merchant Marine Officers Handbook. He is a member of the Propeller Club of the Port of Portland, Maine and a member of the New York and Portland Marine Societies.  In his training role, he has educated over 4,000 undergraduates, military personnel and maritime port managers and executives throughout North America.  His seminar participants include port professionals from all over the world.


Crystal Gitchell, ASLRRA 

Crystal Gitchell is seasoned government relations professional with experience in the manufacturing and transportation industries. With a focus on trade groups, she has advocated on behalf of association members before the United States Congress, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and state legislatures.

In her current position as Assistant Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Policy for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Ms. Gitchell covers issues such as truck size and weight and crew size with regulatory agencies, and legislative priorities such as infrastructure and grant funding with Congress.

Ms. Gitchell received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from George Mason University. A life-long Virginian, she enjoys equestrian sports and volunteering for women’s professional organizations.


Alan Barrett, Higby and Barrett 

Mr. Barrett is an accomplished economist with more than 25 years of experience in futures and cash markets with a focus on cotton, commodity projects, non-traditional agricultural products, transportation and supply chain studies. He is currently the Director of Research and Consulting at Higby Barrett.  Mr. Barrett supervises the fundamental and technical economic analysis performed by the Higby Barrett team.  Alan also leads the consulting practice and is a principal investigator for projects focused on transportation, agricultural markets, and energy.

Mr. Barrett previously worked for Doane Advisory Services, starting their consulting group.  For Doane Advisory Services, Mr. Barrett oversaw the Consulting Department, wrote transportation articles for weekly reports, authored the International Report (long-term forecasts) twice a year, wrote blog entrees for United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC), and provided cotton advice.

Mr. Barrett has a Master of Science degree from the University of Tennessee.  His expertise encompasses feasibility studies of oilseed crushing plants (soybean canola, and cottonseed), grain elevators, export elevators, shuttle elevators, grain container operations, flourmills and other processing facilities.  Mr. Barrett has conducted transportation supply chain studies for grains, oilseeds, fertilizer, coal, natural gas, crude oil, and petroleum products.  His commodity analysis work also includes studies of various fruit and vegetable markets and technologies impacting these markets.  In addition, Mr. Barrett has considerable experience in non-traditional agricultural products such as coal, coke, natural gas, chemicals, hydraulic fracturing fluid, hydraulic fracturing proppants, glycerin, fertilizer, micronutrients, salt, limestone, cement, iron ore, pig iron, and steel, especially feed ingredients.

Studied and traded the cotton market directly under Julien Hohenberg and Robin Cotton for six years.  Being a commodity futures broker for six years for Refco, Inc. gave Mr. Barrett a glimpse into the real-life elements of trading or factors that influence price movement that are not related to supply and demand.  Working with clients, Mr. Barrett saw firsthand the anxieties that comes with commodity trading.

For Informa Economics IEG, Mr. Barrett oversaw the transportation department, backs up the cotton analyst, and work on a wide array of consulting projects.  Mr. Barrett published a weekly grain and oilseed bulk transportation report for North America.  Other publications include the annual Barge Fleet Profile, Barge Commodity Profile, Barge Industry Fact Book and Crude Oil Barge Situation.  He conducted three Transportation Roundtables held throughout North and Central America in locations that are critical to the transportation industry.  Mr. Barrett routinely presented at conferences about topics of interest in the transportation and commodity fields.


David Wren, InfraGard 

Mr. Wren founded Network Technology Partners in 1999 with the idea of partnering with clients to exceed expectations and maximize budget.

David has over 20 years’ experience in the Information Technology and Cyber Security industry. He began his career with a focus on security and network monitoring utilizing protocol analyzers and troubleshooting solutions. He works with clients throughout the Midwest helping them gain visibility into their network, realizing that you can’t protect what you can’t see.

While working with dozens of Fortune 500 companies and large healthcare organizations, he began to see a real gap in the small to midsize enterprise space. These markets were either underserved or simply did not have the investment capital for reliable cyber security protections. Understanding the need in this marketplace he had the idea of creating a suite of affordable “high end” security services and paring them with a scalable solution for cyber security protection that is budget friendly. Today that solution is ARGISS.

As President and CEO, David is responsible for NTP’s strategy and solution offerings. In addition, he overseas a team of Cyber Security Professionals, Threat Hunters and Senior Security Advisors.


Dr. Don Maier, School of Maritime 

In addition to his academic credentials, Dr. Donald Maier has a diverse background in the logistics and supply chain industry. Currently, Dr. Maier is the Dean for the School of Maritime Transportation, Logistics, & Management. He was also the Dean for graduate and undergraduate programs of International Business & Logistics at Maine Maritime, and Professor at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. He has received tenure at three universities and earned Teacher of the Year at USF. Recently, Dr. Maier was featured on CNN, CNN-I, ABC-San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle, and Popular Mechanics as the subject matter expert on the M/S Ever Given and the volatility in the global supply. He was the keynote speaker for the AAPA workshop in Miami. His professional career included roles in the logistics and supply chain management teams at FedEx, Office Depot, Penske Logistics, Monsanto, and Merisant (division of Monsanto). He was a contractor the Will County Health Department’s Emergency Response Team where he designed and managed the distribution of pharmaceutical supplies during the H1N1 incident. Always the adventurous type, he and his family have had the amazing opportunity to live and work in the Midwest, both Coasts, in urban and rural areas.