The Massachusetts Port Authority board approved Thomas Glynn as its chief executive Thursday, filling a void left by the retirement of Thomas Kinton more than a year ago.
Glynn, 66, of Belmont, has held several high-profile public and private sector jobs during a long career, including as chief operating officer of Partners HealthCare, general manager of the MBTA, and US deputy labor secretary in the Clinton administration. As Massport chief executive, Glynn will oversee Logan International Airport and the port of Boston. Under a three-year contract that begins Nov. 1, he will earn $250,000 a year — $45,000 less than his predecessor.
David Mackey, Massport’s general counsel, has been serving as interim director since Kinton stepped down.
“I think that of all the things I’ve been asked to do, this is probably the biggest honor that I’ve ever received in public service because Massport is such an important economic engine for the region,” Glynn said after the Massport board voted on his appointment Thursday morning. “I’m obviously not an expert in aviation, but I think I can make a difference in terms of taking the organization forward.”
Of more than 40 candidates interviewed during a lengthy job search, Glynn clearly stood out, said Richard Davey, state Department of Transportation secretary and Massport board chairman.
“He’s a guy that cares about public service,” Davey said. “He has a tremendous track record, whether it’s in health care or in labor or in transportation. And so while he’s being modest about maybe not being an expert on flying a plane, it’s not why we hired him. We hired him because he’s a tremendous leader and public servant. And what the board expects and the governor expects is a leader to take what we believe is a good agency and take it to the next level.”
Glynn, a public policy lecturer at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, will continue to teach in Cambridge two mornings a week through early December. He has asked Massport not to pay him on those days.
The incoming Massport chief acknowledged that he will face some immediate challenges in his new job. Transportation Security Administration employees at Logan have been accused of racial profiling, and airport workers are pushing for higher pay and benefits.
“I’m going to rely heavily on the people that are here,” he said. “I don’t have a notion of making a lot of significant changes in the way we’ve been handling things because it seems to me things have been handled well.”
Glynn and his wife, Marylou Batt, vice president for administration at Lesley University, have two daughters, age 25 and 29.
“I don’t play golf,” Glynn said, when asked about his hobbies. “That’s probably going to be somewhat of a factor in my life going forward. Marylou plays golf. If anybody wants to play golf, they can play golf with her.”
Glynn plans to spend the next month meeting with senior staff and Massport partners including the airlines, State Police, TSA, and the Federal Aviation Administration. He is also anticipating plenty of feedback from the public.
“I expect to spend the next three months listening to people complaining about taking off their shoes,” he said.