The Port Authority of NY & NJ operates one of the world’s busiest airport systems. In 2018, we served about 138.8 million passengers at our four commercial airports—John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and New York Stewart International—and entered an unprecedented phase in the multi-billion dollar redevelopment program under way at these airports. We broke ground and marked milestones across the system as we prepare to deliver enhanced, modern, state-of-the-art facilities for years to come.
Plan, develop, provide, promote, operate and maintain a unified system of safe and secure regional airport facilities, providing the region with unsurpassed global access and restoring the region to its preeminent status as the nation’s gateway for passengers and cargo and to do so with sensitively for the community and the environment.
Get to know what brought our talented staff to the Port Authority and how they were able to build their career with us:
A: Can anything truly prepare you for a ten-year, $11.6 billion capital program, and similar level of private sector investment? My point is, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of investment, with a broad scope of work that includes the construction of at least three new terminals, repaving of multiple runways, new parking garages, new electrical and fueling infrastructure—and that doesn’t even take into account the new vision for John F. Kennedy International Airport, the busiest airport in our system.
I’ve had the good fortune in my 34 years at the Port Authority to work at all three of our major airports—JFK, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia—in nearly every division, including operations, security, properties and customer service. Along the way, I’ve gained valuable insight about what works and what’s important, and how best to meet our objectives. It certainly helps to have what I believe is the world’s greatest team of airport professionals working with me to achieve our goals, along with the support from our governors, Board of Commissioners, and senior executive staff.
A: My current position. It is a huge honor and privilege to be director of one of the world’s busiest airports systems at an unprecedented time in the history of our airports.
A: I was interested in becoming a lawyer and owner of a financial services firm after graduating from college. As an attorney, you have to be prepared to represent your clients, not just well, but you have to be better than the opposing counsel. You are doing complex deals, managing several clients at once, and ensuring the highest levels of quality for clients and stakeholders who are relying on your advice and decisions.
Being at the helm of the Port Authority’s five-airport system in New York and New Jersey, which served nearly 140 million customers and handled more than 2.3 million tons of cargo in 2018, provides a similar but more rewarding experience because our business is so diverse.
A: I try to be inclusive, engaged and collaborative, and delegate as much authority and responsibility to my colleagues as they can manage. I have incredibly high expectations for myself and my team, because our customers expect a lot from us. I am always searching for a better way to do things, so my staff will tell you that I ask a lot of questions. I am also just as comfortable facilitating a brainstorming session with the team to provide paths to solutions to our many challenges. Even before that, however, it’s about having the right people. I believe everyone has a talent—some more than others—so recognizing how to best match someone’s skills with the organization’s needs is critical. Once you have the right people in place, you need to trust them to do their jobs well. You have to create a sense of autonomy and pride of ownership, and be there to guide, to encourage, sometimes even cajole. And always be available.
A: From my parents: Be humble and kind, and give your best in all you do each and every day.
From my former aviation colleagues at the Port Authority, whom I believe are/were the smartest and most effective aviation leaders I’ve come across (in order of the time period I worked with them):
Currently Deputy General Manager, New Jersey Airports. Previously served as Manager, Physical Plant and Redevelopment; Manager of Airport Maintenance; General Maintenance Supervisor; Assistant Manager of Airport Maintenance; and Facility Maintenance Specialist – all at EWR. Prior to joining Aviation, I spent time in Procurement and started my PA career in the Engineering Design Department.
Hectic. Usually splattered with meetings – requiring interaction with PA staff who work at EWR, PA Executives, airport stakeholders, and other Port Authority departments. I typically think I will accomplish a list of several things in a day, and at the end, I’m happy if I’ve gotten to one or two. The airport is an ever changing environment, and my job requires me to be flexible and adaptable to those changes with a moment’s notice. I’ve yet to be told I have to make a presentation to a large audience when I haven’t had time to prepare, but I suspect I’m closer to that “surprise” than I’ve ever been in my career in my current role.
I have an engineering background, which I think helped me to get where I am – mostly because of the logical thinking that is required to be a successful engineer. When I moved from Engineering to Procurement – lots of people, including the Chief Engineer at the time, thought I had lost my mind. What I found, though, is that through taking on that role, completely unrelated to my field of expertise, I was able to get more insight about how the Port Authority operates – and that is something that I found to be most valuable in my career development. This agency is large and complex, and, sometimes, just knowing who to call or what department handles different issues, will give you a leg up when confronted with a problem to be solved. After joining aviation, and discovering my affinity toward development and facility management, I learned that I would benefit from moving into a represented role for a while -to truly prepare myself best for taking on larger leadership roles. There is no better way to confidently manage a group than having had experience working in positions that you are responsible for.
Internally, Jim Heitmann has been my largest mentor and role model. I met Jim when I worked in Engineering, after he had just moved from Engineering to work at EWR as Assistant Manager of Maintenance. I was working on a project to bring an environmental asset management system to EWR, and Jim was sponsoring that project for the Aviation Department. Since that time, my career path has taken me in a path similar to Jim’s, although I suspect with his new role as Assistant Director, Aviation Development, my career path may soon start to deviate from his, as I desire to run an airport someday. Through my 10+ years of working in Aviation, Jim has mentored me through hills and valleys of taking on large leadership roles, and has always pushed me to take on projects that were outside of my scope of work and my comfort zone. Although I have not always succeeded, I have always learned from the challenges, and have benefited greatly from having a mentor to check in with when needed. That said, there have been countless people along the way who have helped me have such a successful career – each one of them unique. I truly admire all of the women in executive positions in the agency – seeing them in their roles early in my career allowed me to confidently set my career aspirations very high, and so far, I’ve exceeded my own expectations. In particular, Sue Baer and Lillian Valenti both had tremendous impact on my career path.
I have tremendous pride in the success of Newark Airport, and, when we accomplish great tasks as a team, I feel satisfied with my job. In particular, I am always in awe of our skilled maintenance staff, who always deliver small but impactful projects when called to task. I feel so fortunate to work alongside such dedicated, talented staff on a daily basis.
I wouldn’t say it’s a talent, because I’m not great, but I love to sing – and, in my formative years I was a huge drama buff – always taking on roles in our school musicals and plays. I also love to cook, and, when I have time, I enjoy experimenting with new spices and ingredients to come up with something unique. However, I am woefully terrible at creating dishes more than once – because I don’t write anything down or measure ingredients – I see cooking as a way to just see how things go – and most of the time it works out to be something delicious. For the not so successful times, I keep the local pizza shop on speed dial.
Travel the world. I think travel opens up so many opportunities to experience the world in different ways, and it definitely can change your perspective on life and what is important. I think that’s part of the inherent reason I love working in Aviation – our work makes world travel possible – and that possibility is so critical for our humanitarian well-being.
A: In my current position, I am responsible for the delivery of airport planning products to support the Aviation Department’s Capital Programs for all five airports and Aviation’s Redevelopment Programs, including the ongoing JFK Master Planning effort, JFK Terminal Redevelopment Program, EWR Long Term Development Plan and EWR Terminal 1 Redevelopment Program.
A: There’s often a series of collaborating airport planning activities that could include my colleagues in in the Planning Division or other Aviation Department central office staff, or my airport counterparts in Operations, Project Management, Properties, or Redevelopment, as well as consultants and external agency staff. These planning activities encompass a range of airport development perspectives that could include items such as current airfield pavement rehabilitation and delay reduction strategies to master planning for an airport’s future many years from now. Ultimately, we are doing our part to contribute to the agency’s mission.
A: In 2004, after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the Tandon School of Engineering of New York University (which is also where I also received a Master’s Degree in Transportation Planning and Engineering in 2007), I began my Port Authority career as an engineering trainee with the Civil Design Group of the Engineering Department. I held various positions in Engineering and was exposed to different types of design projects, from airports to port commerce facilities. In 2012, I moved to the Aviation Department as a Senior Airport Planner and led a variety of airport planning efforts with increasing responsibility and complexity. I was promoted to my current role in 2015.
A: I have been very fortunate in my Port Authority career to work with and learn from many dedicated professionals. The commitment I have witnessed from professionals in my field, especially working mothers, has truly been an inspiration to me. As someone with a full-time job and two young children, I have been positively influenced by my interactions with other working mothers in the Department and the natural understanding we have for each other. In addition, the support provided by the leadership of the agency and the department to working mothers is very encouraging.
A: My engineering background has trained me to be detail-oriented. After these few years in Aviation, I have come to understand that while detail is important, it is equally critical to see the big picture. This applies to my daily life, too.
A: I enjoy doing crafts with my kids and try to teach them the importance of environmental conservation. I try to engage them in understanding why we need to be less wasteful and the concept of sustainability, making toys out of recycled materials or making wall decors out of natural materials like leaves, twigs and rocks.
A: Being a teacher in early childhood education has always been an interest of mine. I’d love to work with children and share with them what I know about aviation.
A: As Manager of Properties & Commercial Development, I’m responsible for the overall business development of the airport through the leasing and management of all commercial property. I lead a team that currently administers over 200 commercial agreements generating more than $300 million in annual revenue.
A: I joined the unit in 1999 as an entry level Property Representative and worked my way up the ranks. During my tenure, I played an instrumental role in several key commercial transactions, including the procurement of a fixed based operator to manage the airport’s general aviation activity, an eight-airline gate swap and expansion, the Delta/US Airways slot and gate swap transaction, the recent P3 transaction for the redevelopment of the airport’s Terminal B, and a new agreement for the redevelopment of Delta’s Terminal C/D.
A: Every day is a new experience, but what can be considered a typical day looks something like this:
Shortly after arriving at the office, I try to meet with my staff to discuss business strategy. That might include how to effectively persuade internal/external staff or a stakeholder to act or accept an offer (this occurs several times throughout the day); develop strategies to address the constantly changing space requirements for both the Port and the tenants; follow-up with each member of my team for updates on all of their ongoing projects; review and approve actions related to lease documents and billing in SAP; attend several meetings a day to discuss a myriad of topics from construction-related lease issues to project/transaction progress updates to evaluating new business or customer service initiatives; spend some time encouraging team alignment; and last but not least, mediate the multitude of conflicts and infractions relating to lease obligations and provisions.
A: I started my Port Authority career in 1988 as a summer intern in the Management & Budget Department and stayed on part-time while completing an undergraduate degree at Baruch College/CUNY. Shortly after obtaining my degree, I assumed a full-time management position in the agency’s Comptroller’s Department as a Payroll Tax Accountant. I later held various key positions in the Comptroller’s, Treasury and Budget departments. My experience in the financial departments provided the foundation I often depend on when I’m developing business models or pricing strategies. In fact, I was in the Revenue Accounting unit when I first became acquainted with the agency’s commercial real estate operations. I was responsible for billing and interpreting rental provisions for internal and external stakeholders for the former WTC concession agreements.
A: More than one person has played an influential role in my career. I would have to say that Michael Ferrigno (former Properties’ Manager at LGA and JFK), David Kagan (former Chief Commercial Officer /Aviation) and Lysa Scully (General Manager/LGA) collectively provided the most influence in my aviation career.
Michael Ferrigno gave me the start I needed to break into an industry that I knew little about. Believing that I had great potential, he provided the guidance I needed to grow and become a proficient team player. Mike always emphasized the importance of leading with integrity. His authenticity was comforting. David Kagan provided much-needed genuine support. His trust and strong belief in my abilities empowered me to pursue excellence and achieve stretch goals. Under his tutelage, I grew in more ways than one can imagine. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have worked for him. And at last, Lysa Scully, who quite simply inspires me. She’s a strong yet graceful leader. unwavering but compassionate. Her passion is infectious. Like those who paved the way before her, Lysa continues to break barriers and overcome odds in a male-dominated industry. I only hope I can inspire other women as she does today.
A: My aviation career at the Port Authority gave me purpose. Before transitioning to Aviation, I didn’t know what I had an affinity for. I knew I wanted to contribute in some significant way to expanding the agency’s financial capacity in support of its mission. Joining Aviation allowed me to capitalize on my financial skills and problem-solving abilities in a manner that is most rewarding. I was introduced to what I consider an esoteric aspect of the aviation industry that I didn’t know existed. When we think of running an airport, we tend to think about the most visible functions like gate management, aircraft parking, aircraft movements, and terminal management, but often forget about the functions that support the operation of an airport. The business side of the airport is such a function. Being one who embraces new challenges and hungers for knowledge, I find this field exciting because it provides a new learning experience every day.
A: Desiring a lifestyle change, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and lived there for about three years until unexpected circumstances brought me back to New York. While I was in North Carolina, I cultivated a strong passion for the real estate industry and became a full-time real estate broker. I also completed a comprehensive appraisal program and earned a certified appraisal trainee license. So I’m quite skilled at determining the value of most things. I’m also a certified life coach and in my spare time, help others achieve goals.
A: In an ideal world, I would become a full-time real estate broker again. It’s completely gratifying when an individual or family lands their dream home. I want to be a part of that magic again. I would also spend more time coaching and most likely specialize in professional career coaching—helping others realize their full potential.
A: Prior to my current position as Senior Airport Engineer in Aviation Technical Services (ATS), I was an Airport Operations Supervisor at La Guardia and Newark Liberty International airports supporting airside, landside and wildlife hazard management operations.
A: What’s exciting about ATS is that it spans a broad range of expertise requiring collaboration with an even broader group of stakeholders. Our primary role is to support the airports in complying with regulatory standards, which has enabled me to get involved with researching industry trends, upcoming technologies and best practices that support that goal. A typical day might see me analyzing construction activity near our airports, then collaborating with our engineers and facility personnel on major capital initiatives, to finding ways to leverage new technology to improve our business. In every case, the work impacts nearly every flight and passenger traveling through our airports.
A: As a licensed pilot with an aviation-centric education, airport operations was a natural starting point. Eventually, I craved a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of how our airports, and our agency as a whole, worked together. I was fortunate to have been selected as a Leadership Fellow, which allowed me to explore the agency at a broader level while working closely with senior-level management. I leveraged the flexibility in the Fellows program to explore subject areas like real estate, finance, budgeting, and federal grant programs that deeply influence the aviation industry. It also allowed me to explore adjacent industries like rail and maritime transportation so I could favorably apply aviation concepts while embracing ideologies that may have similar beneficial impacts in our industry.
A: Michael Gernant, Manager, ATS, has influenced my career in ways I never imagined. He recognized the potential for my work to influence and inspire the aviation community at-large, encouraging me to pursue opportunities that would allow me to do so. He recommended my participation in industry research, agency innovation initiatives and connected me to subject matter experts. He leveraged the curiosity and creativity that naturally comes to me to elevate the technical position I was filling. This ultimately lead to my appointment to national research panels and speaking engagements at industry conferences.
A: The value is two-fold. First, knowing oneself is perhaps the biggest challenge anyone can face. In that regard, I have been fortunate in that my aviation career has enabled me to discover and pursue my strengths and ambitions. Secondly, there is a genuine sense of fulfillment and pride in knowing that I am applying those strengths toward work that resonates and has applicability throughout the industry.
A: I like to continually explore new hobbies and creative interests. Right now I am pretty passionate about photography and writing.
A: Visit and collaborate with our facility staff. The wealth of knowledge, history and expertise among them, both individually and collectively, is simply unmatched. It’s like the old saying about “learning something new every day;” you really could just by visiting one of our facilities and listening to the folks there.
A: I am an International Facility Duty Manager, which also is identified as a Field Operations Supervisor 7, or FS-7, at Newark Airport’s Terminal B.
A: I started with the Port Authority at JFK in January 2008 as an Operations Services Supervisor, or FS-3. I spent the next nine years at JFK, and during my time there, I held many supervisory positions in airside and landside operations and construction. While at JFK I also worked as an Operations Group Supervisor, an Assistance Airport Duty Manager and Landside Operations Duty Manager.
A: Generally, I’ll begin by checking the status of scheduled arrivals and departures. I’ll work with the ramp manager who ensures gates are available for loading and offloading of aircraft. We also monitor multiple contracts that service the terminal and associated stakeholders. I also work in conjunction with officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to confirm processing of passengers and bags is performed as efficiently as possible. In the event of an emergency or irregular operation at the terminal or for an airline/stakeholder/government agency, we respond and formulate a plan to help mitigate conditions and return services to normal as quickly as possible.
A: I always knew I wanted to work in or around an airport since I was young. My first job in aviation was at Morristown Airport, where I worked as summer maintenance help and was eventually taken on as an intern in the Airport Operations Department my sophomore year of college. During my college days I also worked for an FBO where I fueled and serviced general aviation aircraft. After college and before coming to the Port Authority, I worked as a Junior Airport Planner for an engineering company.
A: My parents. They made so many sacrifices to help me get where I am today and always believed in me. My father worked for an airline and we would travel all over for vacation when I was young. When we would fly, I would ask him what type of aircraft was next to us as we taxied out. I would guess wrong and he’d correct me, and that that’s how I learned to identify most airliners.
A: Over the past ten years, I’ve learned how to confidently engage myself in a problem and find a resolution. I’ve also learned how to work the problem at hand and not have the problem work me.
A: Always plan for the worst and acquire as many resources as possible at the beginning of an operational problem; so in the event the issue worsens you are ready.
A: I love this industry. I would even be happy cutting the grass at the airport. I could spend the day listening to tower communications and watching planes land and take off, all while cutting the day away!
Engineering (ENG)- Civil Engineer for NY airports
Project Management Department (PMD) - Project Manager for NJ airports
World Trade Center Construction (WTCC) - Senior Project Manager - Streets, sidewalks and civil infrastructure.
Aviation - Program Manager - LGA Redevelopment
Current role - Aviation - Senior Program Manager - LGA Project Management.
My supervisor of my second job in Houston. I was given an opportunity to participate in a 5-year program of a major airport project in Houston; it broadened my horizons and helped me set the course of my Aviation Career later on in my life.
I feel profoundly pleased and satisfied knowing that the public can travel through our facilities with confidence by continuously maintaining our infrastructure in a state of good repair.
Strong visual communication skills drawing from my talents in art. My ability to convey complex message or idea in a one pager.
Teaching youth about project management
Over 30 years ago I joined the Port Authority in the Aviation Department as a secretary in the Customer and Public Services unit. In May 2018 I returned as the Manager, Customer Experience; the same group I started my Port Authority career with, just with a different unit name.
A typical day includes focusing on short and long term goals, thinking outside the box, collaborating with different Aviation units, Port Authority departments, airport landside teams, and executive management. On some days I traverse my day from meeting to meeting, or shift between planning and unplanned activities, other days I may travel to one of our airports for meetings or to experience the facility through the eyes of a customer. The one constant is that my day will be demanding, quick-paced, energizing and rewarding.
Previous to my current role I was the Manager of the Civil Rights Program for the Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights where I designed, implemented and administered the Port Authority’s External Civil Rights Nondiscrimination Program and advocated for environmental justice communities, passengers with reduced mobility, and Limited-English proficient individuals. Before that I was a property manager at the Newark Legal and Communications Center and earlier roles included executive assistant positions to senior staff. Working in both line and staff departments has given me many different lenses in which to view the agency and its role in the region.
Robert Trewella was my first boss and my first champion. He saw my potential, nurtured it and challenged and encouraged me to go to college. From there, I worked full time at the Port Authority and went to undergraduate followed by graduate school. Lillian Borrone, former Port Commerce Director was the biggest influence of my Port Authority management career and someone who I continue to look up to and admire. More recently after returning to Aviation, my new supervisor, Kathy Haley, Aviation Department's first ever Chief Customer Experience Officer, has been a shining light of inspiration and a role model for me in the short time we’ve worked together. It’s clear to me that I am exactly where I should be, need to be and want to be.
There is something electric about the Aviation industry and the people who have chosen it as a lifelong career. If I’m going to be away from my family for long days, then I need to know my role is adding value to my life and that my efforts are positively impacting the lives of others. My work in Aviation allows me to tap into my innate need to help others.
I make a mean salsa, chili, gravy/sauce and love to cook food from my Italian roots.
I would be a location scout for the movie or hospitality industry.
Current Role: Data Analytics Program Manager
Previous Role(s): Senior Policy Analyst (2017-2018); Leadership Fellow (2016-2017)
Usually a mixture of meetings with consultants, the core data analytics project team, and then working on presentations, briefings, use-case development and Business Intelligence (BI) training for the department.
I worked as an Events Coordinator at a non-profit where I learned project management skills. I also worked as a sales manager abroad where I was able to work on my business acumen, communication and presentation skills, and people management. I went back to pursue a Master’s degree in Planning and Statistics to bolster my quantitative skillset and develop a technical specialization before starting at the Port Authority as a fellow.
John Selden, the previous Deputy General Manager at JFK Airport. I was his fellow when I started at the Port Authority and he introduced me to everything Aviation. He was a phenomenal mentor, and inspired me to start my Aviation career.
I have a deeper appreciation for the dedicated people who work behind the scenes to move hundreds of millions of passengers and cargo throughout the region. It makes me realize how much we might take for granted in our everyday lives—getting to see a glimpse of how it all works together still fills me with awe.
I’m a certified yoga teacher! And I also climb things, mostly rocks.
I love working with people—so teaching. Also would love to get paid to read and write poems.