Admiral Bonelli’s distinguished career spanned 45 years of active and reserve service. He made combat deployments in Vietnam as a frogman, and served as the commanding officer of SEAL Team 5 during the 1990 Gulf War.
Recalled to active duty again in 2006, Bonelli was promoted to Flag rank and served as Deputy Commander and the ninth Force Commander of Naval Special Warfare. He provided the vision and leadership for a 9,000-person worldwide maritime special operations force and directed a $1 billion-plus enterprise.
Following his Navy retirement, the City of Coronado, California appointed Bonelli as a Commissioner to the San Diego Unified Port District in 2014. At the Port, he makes public policy and provides stewardship for the 6,000 acres of tidelands encompassing San Diego Bay. His responsibilities include working with the Port’s five member cities, the shipbuilding and ship repair industries, overseeing the cargo and cruise terminals, and establishing policies for the harbor police. As a Port Commissioner, he works with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, environmental groups, and more than 600 hotel, retail, restaurant, and visitor-serving tenants who lease tidelands from the Port.
In March 2014, Admiral Bonelli was selected as the volunteer chairman of the board of directors of the Navy SEAL Foundation. The Foundation is a nonprofit benevolent organization providing immediate and ongoing support to Naval Special Warfare personnel and their families.
As the chairman, Admiral Bonelli sets the strategic agenda and guides the execution of the Foundation’s pillars: Warrior Support and Family Services; Educational Opportunities; Tragedy Assistance; Survivor Support; and Legacy Preservation. He coordinates with donors and military leaders to ensure the Navy SEAL Foundation (www.navysealfoundation.org) is meeting current needs and anticipating future requirements.
His civilian professional career has bridged corporate, military and public policy development. Bonelli worked as an executive staff director at the San Diego Association of Governments. At SANDAG, Bonelli helped manage a $14 billion public infrastructure program and developed policy initiatives for locally-elected officials on issues as diverse as population growth, transportation, governance, housing, economic development, environmental management, and public safety. Earlier in his career, he worked as the vice president of military affairs, and the vice president of public policy and communications for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. At the chamber, Bonelli helped create the 1988 National Football League Super Bowl Host program, and promoted the America’s Cup sailing competition.
He holds a master of science degree in mass communications from San Diego State University.