Women Leaders at the Port of Oakland


In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Port of Oakland is paying tribute to its women leaders that are at the forefront of one of the largest ports in the country.

Those who are being recognized include Aviation Director Deborah Ale Flint, Commercial Real Estate Director Pamela Kershaw, Chief Financial Officer Sara Lee, Director of Social Responsibility Amy Tharpe and Jean Banker, principal assistant to the Executive Director.

Amy Tharpe
Amy Tharpe

These women handle multiple responsibilities at the port – form the Oakland International Airport to Jack London Square – ensuring job opportunities at the port for local residents.

For women looking to climb the corporate ladder, they say confidence, creativity, hard work, and commitment will take you far.

Oakland resident Deborah Ale Flint was appointed director of aviation in 2010 and was previously assistant aviation director. Leading the operation and management of the airport, she says, “Transportation is all about moving forward.”

Pam Kershaw - OakPost
Pam Kershaw

“There’s a role in the transportation industry for everyone, whether you are interested in design, engineering, accounting, the environment, marketing, customer service or media. Bring your creativity, your technology savviness, innovative approach, and join us,” said Flint.

“There are so many career paths within transportation that the opportunities abound,” she continued.

With over 20 years of experience working for various public agencies in the Bay Area in the field of land planning and development, Pamela Kershaw became director of commercial real estate in 2012 after being appointed acting director in 2010.

Sara Lee
Sara Lee

“Pick a career that you have a passion for and put your best effort into it every day,” said Kershaw. “Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, trust your instincts, and remember to smile and laugh each day if you can.”

Added Chief Financial Officer Sara Lee, “Don’t be intimidated to ask a question or admit you don’t know something. Be honest, work hard, and know your stuff.”

Lee has over 15 years of experience in investment banking. Prior to working for the port, she was vice president of investment banking at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco and assistant vice president at Paine Webber Incorporated (now UBS Investment Bank).

Deborah Ale Flint - OakPost
Deborah Ale Flint

As Director of Social Responsibility, Amy Tharpe promotes positive economic and social changes that will benefit the port’s business development and the communities of Oakland. She previously managed San Francisco’s HOPE SF Initiative and was director of policy and planning for the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing.

“Follow your passions and have faith in your ability; always trust your instincts,” says Tharpe, who was appointed director in 2013.

Jean Banker has been with the port since 2007, serving as the port’s Deputy Executive Director, Acting Maritime Director, and Manager of Finance and Administrative Services for the Maritime Division.

Jean Banker - OakPost
Jean Banker with Captain Laszlo Minarik

She previously worked for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority as Deputy Director of Capital Programs.

Now as principal assistant to the Executive Director, Banker says, “Do not assume that your accomplishments will speak for themselves; talking about them can make a difference between being overlooked and advancing your influence or position.”

All photos courtesy of the Port of Oakland.


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