In recognition for his leadership in the freight transportation and logistics field and contributions to leadership, mentorship and education of future leaders in private sector freight transportation, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) presented its 2017William K. Smith Distinguished Service Award to Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

The award was presented at the CTS annual meeting and awards luncheon on Feb. 15, in the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. The event enables CTS to thank individuals who volunteer their time in support of transportation research, education and engagement activities at the University of Minnesota and to acknowledge outstanding contributions of professionals and students. The Distinguished Service Award, first presented in 2002, is named in honor of William K. Smith, who served on the initial committee that established CTS and also on several CTS research and education councils until his death in 2001.

Coda has been the Port Authority’s executive director since October 2013, capping a career that spans more than 20 years in multimodal transportation and logistics. He currently serves as president for the Minnesota Ports Association and is an active member of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, the Chamber of Marine Commerce Board and the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council. Coda also serves on the University of Wisconsin-Superior Transportation and Logistics Advisory Board and the U.S. DOT Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC).  Throughout his career, he has worked with customers across commodity groups including coal, aggregate, chemicals, petroleum, steel, wind generation and the heavy-lift sector. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Coda began his career in Chicago in 1993 with the Illinois Central Railroad, becoming director of marketing and sales following its merger with CN. He went on to management positions with the Westlake Group of Companies, American Commercial Lines, Dynegy Inc., and served most recently as Director of Global Logistics for Nabors Industries in Houston.