By Kevin M. Burke
March 8 is the 106th annual International Women’s Day. This special day would not be complete without honoring the many women in our own industry who contribute to our airports, and communities, every day. I have spent some time reflecting on the role women have historically played in our industry, the leadership they demonstrate in today’s airport community and the direction I hope our industry takes in the future.
Historically, aviation, like many industries, has been primarily a man’s world, especially in leadership positions. Now is a great time to review how this dynamic is shifting. Today, 31 of ACI-NA’s member airports are run by women directors or acting directors – including some of the largest airports in the country. Additionally, ACI World, representing 1751 airports in 174 countries and territories before the International Civil Aviation Organization, is led by a female director general, Angela Gittens.
This generation of women airport leaders is taking the lead on some of the most complex organizational and infrastructure challenges in the country. O’Hare Airport in Chicago, for example, is currently implementing the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) which will create one new runway, relocate three runways, extend two runways and add a western terminal campus. OMP is estimated to create up to 195,000 new jobs and add an additional $18 billion in annual economic activity to the Chicago region.
O’Hare is not the only woman-led airport with forward thinking modernization programs. Salt Lake City International (SLC) Airport’s $1.8 billion Terminal Redevelopment Program and Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s Development plan will solve operational problems, improve customer service, accommodate growth, and maintain competitive costs in their respective airports. In Montana, the Glacier Park International Airport will begin a $2 million remodel that will include an expansion of the security area and lower-level passenger seating area and provide a more comfortable and personal traveling experience for customers overall.
Two major airports in California, San Diego International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have also embarked on historic public works programs. In San Diego, the now completed Green Build project, to-date the largest improvement project in the airport’s history, created 1,000 jobs and helped to modernize and enhance the traveler experience. And the World Airports (LAWA) Capital Improvements Program at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) consists of more than 20 individual projects and will, at its completion, have created 40,000 construction related jobs. It is considered to be the largest public works program in the history of the City of Los Angeles.
Some projects are comprehensive in scale and scope, and others are aimed at addressing specific travel and infrastructure needs. Denver’s International Airport recently embarked on a Hotel and Transit Center project which will enhance Denver’s standing as an international hub by creating an independent, yet integrated, Weston that will include 519 rooms, a conference center and a public transit center. In Boise Idaho, the Boise Airport is currently working on an Airport Garage Expansion Project that will add an additional 755 parking spots for airport travelers. In Arizona, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is undergoing construction of two new gates and an additional outdoor courtyard at the Airport’s Charles L. Williams Passenger Terminal.
While I cannot do justice to all of the important modernization and capital investment projects taking place in airports throughout this country, it is important to note that a number of them are coming from airports with women at the helm. These projects are innovative in the advancements they will make for customer travel. They also are to be commended for the thousands of jobs they are (and will) provide to the community, and the billions of dollars they are injecting into their local economies. I encourage you to visit your airport’s website and see for yourself, what exciting and economically beneficial projects are underway in your community.
I know I speak for many in our industry in celebrating the increasing diversity of the staffs and leaders at our airports. Today I would like to offer a shout-out to these incredibly talented women airport chief executives.
ACI-NA’s 31 Women Directors and Acting Directors – we salute you all!
- Kim Aguirre, Director of Aviation, City of San Jose Airport Department, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Intl. Airport
- Deborah Ale Flint, Director of Aviation, Oakland International Airport, Port of Oakland
- Bonnie Allin, President and CEO, Tucson Airport Authority, Tucson International Airport
- Rosemarie Andolino, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation
- Pat Apone, Director of Airports, Horry County Dept. of Airports
- Thella Bowens, President and CEO, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
- Joyce Carter, Vice President Finance, Chief Financial Officer, & Chief Strategy Officer, Halifax International Airport Authority
- Delia Chesworth, Director, Government of the Northwest Territories, DOT, Airports Division
- Melinda Crawford, Executive Director, Charlottesville – Albermarle Airport
- Ann Crook, Director of Aviation, Elmira Corning Regional Airport
- Kim Day, Chief Executive Officer, City and County of Denver, Denver International Airport
- Tamie Fisher, Acting Aviation Director, City of Phoenix Aviation Department, Sky Harbor International Airport
- Patricia deLaBruere, Airport Manager, Juneau International Airport
- Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Director, St. Louis Airport Authority, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
- Rebecca Hupp, Airport Director, Boise Airport
- Diane Jackson, Assistant Airport Manager, Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport
- B.R. Lane, Interim Director, Gary Chicago International Airport
- Gina Marie Lindsey, Executive Director, Los Angeles World Airports
- Monica Lombraña, Director of Aviation, City of El Paso, El Paso International Airport
- Helen Maclnnis, Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Airport Authority
- Cindi Martin, Airport Director, Flathead Municipal Airport Authority, Glacier Park International Airport
- Brenda Martin, CEO and Airport Manager, Stephenville Airport Corporation
- Candace McGraw, Chief Executive Officer, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Intl. Airport
- Melinda Montgomery, Airport Manager, Trenton-Mercer Airport
- Marily Mora, President and CEO, Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority
- Jane Morris, Executive Director, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority
- Maureen Riley, Executive Director, Salt Lake City Department of Airports
- Elaine Roberts, President and CEO, Columbus Regional Airport Authority
- Jacqueline Shuck, Executive Director, Roanoke Regional Airport Commission, Roanoke Regional Airport
- Rosemary Vassiliadis, Director of Aviation, Clark County Department of Aviation, McCarran International Airport
- Vernice Walkine, President and CEO, Nassau Airport Development Company, Lynden Pindling International Airport