Business & Tech

Massport CEO who oversaw Seaport building boom says he will step down

Massport chief executive Thomas Glynn is leaving  after six years.
Globe Staff/File 2018
Massport chief executive Thomas Glynn is leaving after six years.

The Massachusetts Port Authority’s chief executive, Thomas P. Glynn, plans to step down in November, ending a six-year tenure in which he oversaw a dramatic surge in international flights at Logan Airport and a building boom on vast land holdings in the Seaport District.

While at Massport, Glynn has been one of Boston’s most influential power brokers, with three airports and three ship terminals under his purview, as well as big chunks of real estate on the East Boston and South Boston waterfronts.

Glynn’s Massport job caps a career in government that spans decades, as well as a nearly 15-year tenure as Partners HealthCare’s chief operating officer.

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Glynn’s contract ends in November 2019. But he said Tuesday that he’s ready to leave a year early. He said he is giving 90 days’ notice to Massport’s board of directors on Wednesday and noted that the average tenure for a Massport CEO since 1990 has been three years.

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“I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot of the things the board asked me to do,” Glynn said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Six years is a long time in the job, and I’m 72.”

The authority’s board is scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday to accept his resignation and start the search for a new CEO. John Pranckevicius, Massport’s director of administration and finance, is expected to become interim CEO after Glynn leaves, until a replacement can be found.

Glynn earns nearly $300,000 a year, although it’s not clear what his successor will make. He oversees a staff of about 1,300 employees and an annual budget of $800 million. Massport’s operating budget is designed to be self-sufficient, although it has benefited from state funds for certain capital projects.

Glynn was hired under Governor Charlie Baker’s predecessor, Deval Patrick. The Massport board makes the choice. But now, a majority of the seven-member board consists of Baker appointees, including Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. Glynn’s departure would take place in mid-November, soon after the gubernatorial election.

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Glynn described his departure as voluntary. He said he doesn’t have a plan for what he will do next, though he hinted he would like to return to teaching. He taught public management at the Harvard Kennedy School after leaving Partners in 2010 and before he was hired at Massport in 2012.

“I said to the senior staff the first time [when he joined Massport], I knew that this was considered the best public-sector job in the Northeast,” Glynn said. “It’s because of the great people who have always worked here. It’s a team. That’s a very special thing to experience.”

Glynn’s legacy of accomplishments at Massport includes the growth in international traffic at Logan: More than 20 new international nonstop routes have been announced or launched since 2012, driving a 65 percent increase in international passengers on Glynn’s watch.

Glynn and his team often worked closely with business leaders to make the case for Boston, although the city’s rise on the global economic stage in recent years served as a draw in its own right.

Soon after he joined Massport, he worked with JetBlue to bring new passenger service to revive Worcester Regional Airport. He also oversaw the installation of a new landing system that makes it easier for pilots to navigate through the foggy conditions that sometimes plague that airport.

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Glynn also played a key role in jump-starting a massive dredging project that will prepare Boston Harbor and Massport’s Conley terminal to handle larger container ships.

‘I knew that this was considered the best public-sector job in the Northeast.’

— Thomas P. Glynn, recalling comments he made to Massport’s senior staff when he took the CEO job in 2012 

Then there’s the authority’s development work: Notably, Glynn helped set the stage for a new convention-center hotel to be built by Omni and local developer Davis Cos. across the street from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston.

To pull it off, Massport made it clear that the racial diversity of the development team would be an important factor in the decision, establishing a model that is being repeated for other sites that Massport owns.

The Seaport’s redevelopment has had detractors, though. Some have argued for more housing. Others criticize the large garage — Massport calls it a transportation center — that the authority recently opened there, saying it should have focused more on discouraging drivers from using the waterfront’s traffic-clogged streets.

To appease some of the critics, Massport is telling developers that in the future they need to propose “public realm” improvements for its parcels in the Seaport.

Glynn avoided major controversy during his time as CEO, however. He used his influence to help Massport right until the end of his tenure: Late last month, the Legislature included an authorization for $100 million in an economic development bill to upgrade Massport’s cruise ship terminal in South Boston. Glynn had personally pushed for the funding on Beacon Hill.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.