Submit your nominations for the AAPA Lighthouse Awards through the links below. 

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Lighthouse Awards recognize programs and projects that stand out as a beacon of excellence across the port industry. 


Ports will have the opportunity to apply for Awards of Excellence in 10 specialty areas: Administration, Cruise, Economic Development, Environment, Facilities and Infrastructure Development, Finance, Legal, Public Relations/Communications, Security, and Technology. Within each specialty, there are two award categories, except the Public Relations/Communications Awards which include 6 award categories. Most specialties have separate award categories for large and small ports to ensure ports are recognized for their achievements relative to their size and resources. A port's size is distinguished based on the following criterion:

  • Small port has fewer than 55 full-time employees (FTEs) and less than $22 million in annual revenues.
  • Large port has 55 or more FTEs and annual revenues that equal or exceed $22 million.

The highest scoring entry in each of the competition's 24 categories will receive an Award of Excellence trophy. This allows increased recognition of outstanding projects and programs within the Hemisphere's ports. AAPA may give an additional Award of Distinction in any award category to an entrant who is deserving of recognition for their outstanding performance or contribution. 

Each entry can be submitted for up to 3 award categories, and there is no limit to the number of entries a port can submit. For example, a port can submit an entry for all three award categories under the Public Relations/Communications specialty.  In addition, a port can submit an entry for a project that highlights a new wharf completed with innovative financing and requiring extensive community outreach for the 1) Facility and Infrastructure Development Award, 2) Finance Award, and 3) Public Relations/ Communications: Community/Educational Outreach Award. An award submission may include components from other specialty areas, but each entry will be judged against other projects solely within that award category.

All AAPA Port members are eligible to apply, including members from the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, and Latin American delegations. All applications should be submitted in English.

  • Ports may include co-applicants as part of their application if they wish to highlight a partnership with another public or private entity.
  • Applications will be accepted only for maritime-related programs/projects that have been completed within the past 12 months. For construction projects, the completed elements should be functional and operational, serving their intended purpose effectively.
  • A completed program/project should have tangible results or outcomes that can be evaluated and measured against the stated objectives. This may include completed structures, successful implementation of planning initiatives, or measurable improvements in the built environment or community.


Entry Fee: A non-refundable entry fee of $125 is required to process an application for the Lighthouse Awards. If a port is submitting more than one project, a separate application and entry fee should accompany each project. However, ports can process payment for all applications in a single transaction.

Please pay this fee via credit card through our secure online platform. Upon payment, you will receive a confirmation email containing a personalized application link to submit an entry. Please do not share this link with anyone outside of your organization.

The entry fee helps cover the operational costs of the awards program, ensuring that AAPA can continue to recognize and celebrate excellence in our industry with the integrity and attention it deserves.

Deadlines: All entries must be submitted through Submittable no later than July 15, 2024. Winners will be notified by email in early September 2024.

Entries are judged by an independent panel of senior communications professionals based on eight award criteria with a possible total score of 100 points. The project application should attempt to address the following criteria:

 1. Effectiveness (20 points)

Evaluate how well the project meets its stated objectives and addresses the specific needs and challenges within its category. Consider the extent to which the project achieves its goals and delivers measurable outcomes. High scores should reflect projects that exceed their targets and demonstrate clear success in fulfilling their mission.

2. Innovation (10 points)

Assess the degree to which the project introduces new ideas, approaches, or technologies relevant to its field. This criterion should measure not only the novelty but also the practical application and effectiveness of these innovations in advancing industry standards or practices. Projects that bring transformative changes or set new benchmarks should receive high scores.

 3. Social Responsibility (10 points)

Demonstrate a strong commitment to ethical practices, promote equity and fairness, and strive to create positive social impact within the industry. It could encompass various areas such as environmental sustainability, social justice initiatives, diversity and inclusion efforts, human rights advocacy, and ethical business practices.

4. Resource Optimization (10 points)

Determine to what degree project resources were efficiently utilized and whether effective cost management practices and value engineering solutions were implemented. Projects that achieve their objectives while maintaining economic efficiency and minimizing waste should score highly. Projects that successfully leverage alternative funding mechanisms to reduce reliance on traditional funding sources and minimize project costs should also receive higher scores.

 5. Stakeholder Engagement and Feedback (10 points)

Review how well the project involves relevant stakeholders, including local communities, businesses, and government entities. High scores should go to projects that effectively communicate with and engage these groups, incorporate their feedback, and address their concerns, fostering a collaborative environment. Projects that excel in this area will have established, ongoing evaluation processes that allow for continuous improvement and innovation.

 6. Impact (20 points)

Measure the tangible and intangible impacts of the project on its category and the wider community, both in the short and long term.

A. Short-term Impact (10 points)

Assess the immediate benefits and outcomes of the project. Consider the direct effects on the target audience, community, environment, or industry. Projects that demonstrate significant, measurable achievements in a short timeframe should receive higher scores.

B. Long-term Impact (10 points)

Evaluate the potential lasting effects of the project over an extended period. Projects that are likely to provide sustainable benefits, promote long-term change, or lead to lasting improvements in their category should be rated highly.

7. Adaptability and Scalability (10 points)

Evaluate the project’s adaptability to changing circumstances, emerging technologies, expansion, and evolving needs. Projects should have mechanisms for ongoing monitoring and evaluation, allowing them to adjust plans and processes effectively. High scores should be awarded to projects that are flexible, demonstrate a pathway for growth or adaptation in broader applications, or are responsive to new challenges and opportunities.

8. Integration (10 points)

Assess how well the project integrates with existing infrastructure, systems, and/or processes within its category. Projects that demonstrate effective integration, promote collaboration, and create synergies with other initiatives should be rated highly. Consider how well the project complements or enhances the existing landscape.


Award winners will be highlighted at the AAPA Annual Convention. Award winners MUST complete a PowerPoint slide that includes specific entry information and graphics. A template will be provided by AAPA in your notification email. In addition, displays may be sent after winners have been notified. Any electronic media may be used for display and/or presentations, but the provision of such is the sole responsibility of the winning entrant.


By submitting your application, you grant AAPA the right to share information about your project across AAPA communication channels. This includes, but is not limited to, AAPA social media platforms, websites, email newsletters, and magazine. Your participation helps us highlight and promote outstanding contributions to our industry.

For any questions regarding the AAPA Lighthouse Awards or your submission, please reach out to

American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)