OUR BOARD OF GOVERNORS
The Structure and Role of the VIPA Board
The Virgin Islands Port Authority is an autonomous agency governed by a nine-member board that sets policy. The executive director is responsible for implementing these policies and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the agency. Board meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month and are open to the public under the Sunshine Law of the Territory. As per VI Code Title 29 §541, four members of the governor's cabinet sit on the board. These members serve at the pleasure of the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands. They are:
the commissioner of the Department of Tourism,
the attorney general,
the commissioner of the Department of Public Works, and
the chairperson of the Economic Development Authority's board.
The five other board positions are reserved for private citizens who are appointed by the governor and are subject to the approval of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. Two of these members must come from St. Croix, two from St. Thomas, and one from St. John. They are appointed to a three-year term of office and each is eligible for re-appointment. Private sector members receive a stipend of $75 per board meeting attended. Ex officio members do not receive a stipend.
There is one vacancy on VIPA's board: one private citizen from St. Thomas.
WHEN DOES VIPA'S BOARD MEET?
Regular meetings of the Virgin Islands Port Authority’s Board of Governors are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. Meeting dates and times are subject to change.
The general session of the Board’s regular meetings is open to the public. Meetings will be conducted in person and/or via teleconference at the VIPA Administrative Building at 8074 Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas and/or at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport Terminal’s conference room on St. Croix.
In keeping with health guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required to attend all meetings.
VIPA BOARD MEETING SCHEDULE
CALENDAR YEAR 2021*
June 30 - Emergency Meeting Held
August 25 (rescheduled from Aug. 18)
October 27 (rescheduled from Oct. 20)
*This schedule is subject to change.
MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS
MS. LEONA E. SMITH
Private Sector, St. John
Term: May 15, 2019 - May 15, 2022
Leona E. Smith was elected as the Virgin Islands Port Authority's board chairperson in May 2019 and re-elected in April 2020. Now a retiree, Smith formerly served as the St. John Administrator from 2007 - 2014 charged with representing the Governor of the Virgin Islands in key matters concerning the island. Prior to her job as Administrator, she was a coordinator for 17 years at the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs. Smith also worked as a part-time U.S. Customs and Border Protection Inspector and Officer for 19 years and was employed at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands as a researcher and constituents complaint investigator. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and an Associate in Legal Research. Smith has served on several boards, including the Board of Tax Review, the Board of Directors of the West Indian Company, Ltd., the Board of Trustees for the Government Employees Retirement System, and the V.I. Board of Elections. She also serves as the President/Chairperson of the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization.
MR. KEVIN RODRIQUEZ
Vice-Chairman of VIPA's Board
Chairman of the U.S.V.I. Economic Development Authority Board
Term: Ex Officio
Kevin A. Rodriquez, deputy chief of staff to the Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, was elected as the chairman of the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority Board on May 15, 2019. He was elected by the VIPA's board to serve as its Secretary in April 2020. Rodriquez is a human resources veteran with over 24 years of executive experience. He was the former Director of Personnel under the Turnbull/Richards administration and Director of Applicant Services for the State of Tennessee Human Resources Department. Rodriquez attended Jones College and Temple University.
MR. WILLARD S. JOHN
Secretary of the Board
Private Sector, St. Croix
Term: March 30, 2020 - March 30, 2023
Willard S. John is a retired educator that served the VI Dept. of Education for thirty-eight years as a Vocational Counselor, Cultural Education Specialist, Coordinator of the St. Croix Adult Education Center, Coordinator of St. Croix Skill Center, Assistant Principal, and retired as Principal of the St. Croix Educational Complex High School. He is a 30-year member of the Rotary Club of St. Croix Mid-Isle and a member of the Board of Directors of the Frederiksted Federal Credit Union. Willard John is also a board member of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development.
Willard John is the founder and Artistic Director of the Guardians of Culture Moko Jumbies for the past thirty years. He is a culture bearer that has represented the Virgin Islands throughout the world as an ambassador of VI Culture. He is the President of Jumbie Productions Inc. a company that provides entertainment booking, event management, film location management, production services, and consulting.
THE HONORABLE JOSEPH BOSCHULTE
Term: Ex Officio
USVI Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte has a wealth of experience in government management and strong ties in the tourism industry. Most recently, he served as a specialist at the VI Department of Tourism to assist in forging critical bonds with leaders in the cruise industry. He worked with the USVI committee that comprises the "Ports of the Virgin Islands" to help the territory achieve operational improvements to the cruise ship sector as well as economic benefits to the community. He is also a former Chief Executive Officer of the West Indian Company, Limited. During his tenure, the agency negotiated three long-term agreements with three separate cruise ship corporations and invested over $20 million worth of infrastructure repairs of the cruise dock, which receives the majority of the cruise visits in the territory. His career has included service with the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, the VI Government Employees’ Retirement System, VI Public Services Commission, and the University of the Virgin Islands.
THE HONORABLE DEREK GABRIEL
Public Works Commissioner
Term: Ex Officio
Derek Gabriel has been nominated by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. to serve as the territory’s next commissioner of Public Works. Gabriel is currently the territory manager for APTIM and provides strategic support for program operations for all ongoing recovery projects and he oversees the territory’s overall business development across all APTIM service lines. APTIM is an engineering firm contracted by the V.I. government after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
THE HONORABLE DENISE N. GEORGE, ESQ.
Attorney General of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Term: Ex Officio
Attorney Denise N. George (also known as Denise George-Counts) is a native Virgin Islander who attended the All Saints Cathedral School and graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School. Attorney George received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of Maryland. Before enrolling in law school, she was a television news reporter and desk anchor for a St. Thomas television station WBNB-TV, and more recently, a local cable TV talk show host.
Attorney George received her Juris Doctor degree from Howard University Law School in 1984. After graduating from law school, she began her legal career as a Territorial Court law clerk for Judge Verne A. Hodge and Judge Ive Arlington Swan. For several years, she practiced general civil litigation and family law in her private law firm, "Law Offices of Denise-George-Counts". She served as an Assistant Attorney General and trial attorney in the criminal, civil, family, juvenile, White Collar, and public corruption divisions of the Virgin Islands Department of Justice for a period of over 18 years. During her tenure, she successfully prosecuted a full spectrum of violent crimes including murder, manslaughter, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. As a member of the Child Abuse Task Force, she co-authored the Virgin Islands’ first criminal child abuse and neglect statute. In the Civil Division, she represented the V.I. government in civil lawsuits filed against and on behalf of the government.
Attorney George also served for several years as the Director of the White Collar Crime and Public Corruption Division. During that time, she managed the division and successfully prosecuted complex white-collar crimes of embezzlement, forgery, fraud, racketeering, and public corruption involving public officials of local agencies including the GERS, Schneider Hospital, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Office of the Governor, and Department of Human Services. In 2016, Attorney George accepted a position as Senior Staff Attorney at the Virgin Islands Port Authority, a position she has held until her nomination as Attorney General.
MR. LIONEL S. JACOBS
Private Sector, St. Croix
Term: September 27, 2020, through September 27, 2023
Lionel S. Jacobs serves on the VIPA Board as a representative for the private sector of the St. Croix District. He has extensive knowledge and experience in urban and commercial construction and architecture. He has worked for the V.I. Planning Office, the V.I. Department of Natural Resources, and the V.I. Housing Finance Authority overseeing major development and construction projects for these government agencies. He is currently the co-owner of the Arawak Bay Inn on St. Croix. Jacobs is a U.S. Army Veteran. He holds a Bachelors' degree in Architecture from the New York Institute of Technology and a Masters in Architecture from Columbia University.
MR. CELESTINO A. WHITE SR.
Private Sector, St. Thomas
Term: March 30, 2020 - March 30, 2023
Celestino A. White Sr., also known as Tony, Maltin, and Startover is a grassroots native son who hails from Paul M. Pearson Gardens (Housing). He is a graduate of the Charlotte Amalie High School Class of 1965. Celestino A. White, Sr. served four years with the United States Air Force and was assigned to the 377th Security Police Squadron. During his four years with the Air Force, Celestino served one year in The Republic of Vietnam. Upon his honorable discharge in 1969, Celestino A. White, Sr. joined the Virgin Islands Police Department and held all uniform ranks to include the highest uniform rank of Chief of Police. He was credited with 23 years of service within the Police Department. Additionally, Celestino A. White, Sr. served 11 terms or 22 years as a Senator in the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.
Former Housing Boy, Police Chief, and Senator, Celestino A. White, Sr., is the recipient of The Virgin Islands Medal Of Honor, and the Senior Citizen Residential Homes at Sugar Estate, St. Thomas VI bears his name. Celestino A. White, Sr. is extremely proud of his Master's Degree in Common Sense and Ph.D. in Street Sense from the School of Hard Knox.
VIPA BOARD COMMITTEES
Board members volunteer to serve on committees for a term of one year. Committee meetings are held once a month and are closed to the public.
J. Boschulte -chair
L. Jacobs - chair
PROJECTS & OPERATIONS
W. John -chair
K. Rodriquez -chair