Gina Marie Lindsey announced her retirement as Executive Director of the Los Angeles World Airports. Her future is likely to still be active somewhere in aviation; her past is a history of exceptional service to the flying public. Here are two aspects of her career which define her performance in terms unmatched by many.
Recent history reflects that the proponent of major airport infrastructure projects require courage, stamina and thick skin. The exhausting NEPA process, local opposition to any perceived increase of noise, political help from proponents/opponents, disruption of the existing operations and exacting demands of managing the details of the construction all tend to deter airport leaders from launching these important airport infrastructure projects.
Gina Marie has never shied away from such challenges; in fact, she led two of the largest airport ventures over the last 20 years. She initiated and implemented Seattle-Tacoma’s largest renovation project. Most recently she refurbished the Mayor Bradley Terminal at a $2 billion price tag, but the dollars involved were not as great an investment as the hours which Ms. Lindsey devoted to working with the local community to address their opposition. As her last task at LAX, she led an effort to define the need for improvement for the airport over the next five years at a cost of $7 billion.
That’s the first of two exceptional marks.
Aviation has been a predominantly male bastion. A typical airport’s employee roster is filled with relatively unskilled laborers; the line people, who maintain the tarmac, remove snow, change runway lights, keep the hallways clean, keep the grass cropped, watch for FOD and a host of other necessary jobs, require much oversight of an authoritarian nature. The management jobs have oftentimes found experienced candidates from the military. Those stereotypes are being expanded as women have been encouraged to pursue those positions.
The term pioneer has almost become a cliché. It is no longer relevant to claim to be the first down the path, but the true mark of excellence is what the person did on that trail. Gina Marie may not have been the first woman to do what she did, but it is clear that her record set high standards for those who follow. Her example will inspire young women to choose airport management as a career and what she did should serve as a role model for those who aspire to her level of excellence.
Ms. Lindsey’s steps have set a proven trail for others to follow.
The open question is what will this energetic person do next? An active set of adventures in retirement or some other exceptional test in the field of aviation—what will it be?
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