Spotlight Series: Lisa Himber of the Maritime Exchange

Lisa Himber

Vice President, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay


CACC: How did your experiences lead you to your role at the Maritime Exchange?  Did you always envision yourself involved in trade?


Lisa Himber (LH): Thanks for asking, because this is actually one of my favorite stories.  The short answer is no, neither my education nor my work experience brought me to this industry, at least not by design.  I landed at the Maritime Exchange because I answered a blind ad for a job that turned out to be with Pete DuPont’s presidential campaign (I know, I’m completely dating myself).  It was there that I first met Dennis Rochford. When the campaign office closed, I needed a job.  Dennis had just recently started at the Exchange and needed some help.  So he ultimately offered me a position.  I had no particular interest in the maritime industry and certainly no desire to commute from Wilmington to Philadelphia, but I figured it was only temporary until I could land something closer to my interest and closer to home.  So now we know that “temporary” truly is a relative term.

CACC: How is your work at the Maritime Exchange connected to Chile?

LH: That’s the beautiful thing about working for the Exchange.  We are connected to just about everything having to do with seaport operations in one way or another. It’s what has kept my job so interesting all these years, it has kept me linked to countless members of our port community, and it’s what has kept the Exchange relevant and successful for over 140 years.

With Chile such a key trade partner for our ports, it’s no wonder the Exchange has worked to protect and bolster the important fruit and other cargoes moving between Chile and the tri-state region. We have opposed efforts to restrict the marketing order for Chilean grapes, we have advocated for alternatives to increasing USDA and CBP user fees for agriculture products, and we have championed efforts to improve processes associated with importing and transporting products from Chile. Even our efforts to change wood packing material inspection protocols have benefited our trade with Chile in the form of improved handling of the pallets on which breakbulk fruit from Chile arrives. Currently, with the financial support of ASOEX, the Chilean exporters association, the Exchange administers the Cold Storage Facility Task Force. This group developed best practices in order to improve worker safety and audits adherence to those practices annually.  And since USDA and CBP are in my wheelhouse at the Exchange, most of these initiatives are my responsibility.

CACC: What is your favorite part of working within the maritime trade industry? 

LH: I don’t even have to think about that one.  Without doubt, it’s the people.  The Maritime Exchange is a small shop — we’re only 14 people soaking wet.  Yet 300 companies in the region are members of the Exchange, and between them they employ thousands of people.  I consider them as co-workers too.  Members provide insight and advice that keeps the Exchange, and me, at the top of our game. They come to us to help them solve problems, and there’s no feeling like being able to get them the results they need.

But it’s more than that.  Members are friends as well as colleagues. We gather socially (well, we used to) and truly enjoy each other’s company.  We’ve been through a lot together over the years, celebrating joys and accomplishments and sharing tragedies as well, both professional and personal.  I can’t imagine this unique kind of camaraderie exists in other industries.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you?

LH: As you might expect from my answer to the last question, I especially appreciate the opportunities for networking and connection building the Chamber offers.  I also greatly value the Chamber’s education and information-sharing initiatives.  But out of everything, I think it’s the strong ties to the Chilean government and business interests who are so critical to our success that mean the most.  The bonds CACC forges encompass all members, and that in and of itself is important enough to keep me interested in and engaged with the Chamber.

Many thanks to Lisa for participating in this Spotlight Series!

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