PORT ANGELES — Karen Goschen, who has been at the helm as the Port of Port Angeles’ executive director since 2016 is resigning to tend to her sister’s health, she said.
Goschen’s Dec. 28 resignation letter was contained in the agenda packet for the port commissioners’ regular Tuesday meeting that was posted late Friday afternoon on the port’s website at portofpa.com.
According to the agenda, the “transition of executive director and process for selecting new executive director” will be discussed at the virtual meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
A top level manager at the port since 2012, Goschen said in an email Friday evening that she will remain the executive director until commissioners choose a replacement.
She declined to be interviewed.
“For me, this past year was especially difficult because the pandemic coincided with the deterioration of my sister’s health,” Goschen said in the letter.
“After reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the new year, I have decided it is important for me to spend more time assisting my ill sister.”
She did not identify her sister’s illness.
Goschen was hired as the port’s director of finance in August 2012.
She was promoted to deputy executive director in 2014 and was interim director for six months following the December 2015 resignation of Ken O’Halloran, whom she succeeded and who took over from embattled former Executive Director Jeff Robb, a 30-year port employee.
Robb was in the port’s top administrative position before resigning in 2013 after Colleen McAleer, then port director of business development and current port commissioner, filed a whistleblower complaint alleging the port did not have lease bonds in place that were required by state statute. The state Auditor’s Office determined those bonds were not in place.
The complaint led to an internal investigation by Port Angeles attorney Donna Knifsend. She determined state law was not violated but that employee morale under Robb was in shambles. Robb told her he would sue the port if he was fired, according to her report.
Citing “serious health issues,” Robb resigned in mid-2013 and was immediately hired by the port to an unadvertised management job that was not filled when he retired a year later, after he turned 60 and became eligible for state retirement benefits.
“I believe I have brought the Port to a much better place than when I first joined the Port in 2012 and became Executive Director in 2016,” Goschen said in her resignation letter.
“One of my strengths has been to find a pattern out of chaos and to find a path forward when faced with many obstacles while keeping the long-term view in mind.”
Filling the role of port executive direction “has been the highlight of my career,” Goschen said.
“While I had not been thinking of stepping down from my leadership role, circumstances are such that I cannot sufficiently balance the demands of being executive director with my family values of being more available for my sister as she faces her struggles from a debilitating disease.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected]