Our Employee Strategy

Ensure the highest level of employee committment & performance.


In 2017, the Airport Authority recognized five individuals and teams responsible for going above and beyond their assigned duties and making significant contributions to the organization and San Diego community.

Employee of the Year

Alan Parker

Alan Parker served as the lead Senior Procurement Analyst for the expedited international arrivals facility procurement process. He successfully embraced new processes, ideas and opportunities with various departments across the Airport Authority and with various consultants to ensure that the procurement met the aggressive project schedule. The expedited procurement process began in October 2016 and was completed in time for the official groundbreaking in May 2017.

Team of the Year

Bond Sale Team (Finance Department)

The Bond Sale Team issued the Airport Authority's Airport Revenue Bonds to fund the international arrivals facility, Terminal 2 Parking Plaza and other projects. The team was able to gather the data needed to market to the investors and rating agencies and display the Airport Authority's strong financial standing. The team worked diligently and was able to price the bonds in very favorable market conditions when long-term interest rates remained low despite concerns of a rising interest rate market. The success of this bond transaction resulted in an approximate total savings to the airport of $45 million over 30 years.

Bond Sale team members included: Kathy Kiefer, John Dillon, Geoff Bryant, Maya Dayan, Garth Myres, Thuy Hoang-Ton, Sandy Sweeney, Jim Arthur, Terri Esteban and Amanda Snyder.

Innovator of the Year

Lan Nguyen

The Innovator of the Year Award for 2017 was presented to Lan Nguyen who led the renewal process for all Airport Authority insurance programs. She improved the renewal strategy by employing an analytic approach with an eye to pending implications due to the size and complexity of the upcoming Airport Support Facilities and Airport Development Plan projects.

Volunteer of the Year

Amanda Snyder

Amanda Snyder, a financial analyst with the Financial Management team, spent more than 25 hours volunteering at Airport Authority-sponsored events in the community, benefitting St. Vincent De Paul, San Diego Food Bank and the Coastal Cleanup Day. Amanda proved to be tireless and demonstrated a selfless dedication to giving back.

Sustainability Champions of the Year

The SAN Green Concessions Team

For 2017, the Airport Authority presented the Sustainability Champion award to a cross-departmental team of employees who developed and launched the SAN Green Concessions Program, which helps the concessions and the Airport Authority save money through more efficient operations, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, water conservation, waste diversion and green procurement. The program encourages and incentivizes the concession to use EnergyStar appliances and energy efficient lighting, as well as low-flow aerators. The program also educates concessions operators on implementing water conservation practices that help the Airport Authority save on utility costs.

The SAN Green Concessions Team included: Celeste Aragon, Jim DeCock, Jon Graves, Jonathan Heller, Paula Morreale, Chad Reese, Steve Terry and Lauren Wilson.


2017 Snapshot

The Authority hosted a series of “Implicit Bias” sessions as a means to foster diversity and inclusion values in the organization. Over 65 Authority leaders attended the sessions to gain insights into their individual biases and increase awareness in how these biases can impact the recruitment of new team members, management of existing team members and interactions with fellow colleagues.

Diversity was further promoted through three cultural engagement sessions for employees during 2017. The sessions included celebrations of the Lunar New Year and a performance by Taiko drummers, Hispanic Heritage month and a performance by Ballet de Folklorico dancers and celebration of Diwali with a performance by an Oddissi classical style dance and Bollywood style performance. Finally, The Authority hosted a luncheon featuring a discussion with Angela Shafer-Payne, Vice President – Operations, and Thella Bowens, President/CEO, on the challenges they have faced and overcome as female leaders in their field, lessons learned as well as successes. The Authority continues to make strides in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce that is representative of the greater San Diego population. In 2017, SAN's overall workforce diversity profile was reflective of the San Diego region with specific variances seen in the number of Hispanic [lower] and African American [higher] workers compared to the regional populations.


During 2017, the organization experienced significant changes in its senior leadership. The Authority's long-time President/CEO retired and, after a nation-wide search, Kim Becker became the new President/CEO starting May 1, 2017. The Authority also welcomed a new Vice President of Development, Dennis Probst, in December 2017.

Look Ahead

The Airport Authority anticipates changes to its staffing model due to the goals and objectives outlined in the Five-Year Strategic Plan and the envisioned Airport Development Plan. In addition to the Veteran's Fellowship Program and Airport Career Experience (ACE) Internships, the Authority will continue to explore innovative staffing options to meet these future needs. The Authority will also continue to review and assess its compensation and benefits plans to assure they support a highly engaged workforce and can attract new talent in a tight job market.


2017 Snapshot

SAN’s safety culture has improved significantly over the last decade, with a greater awareness on safety, sensitivity and inclusivity. This is evident in the reduced number of total injuries from 17 in 2016 to 13 in 2017. The SafeSAN Team, a cross-functional employee group, spearheads many efforts to address safety concerns and to recognize best practices. During 2017, the SafeSAN Team launched three new programs - a Suggestion Program, Safety on the Spot recognition and a Safety Champion award. The Team also revamped the criteria for facility inspections and moved to an electronic system (Safety-Reports.com).


Monthly safety meetings are held with representatives from each department. These meetings are effective for the dissemination of information. However, an established system to ensure information reaches each individual in a working group currently does not exist; therefore, it is difficult to ensure that information routinely reaches the larger groups.

Looking Ahead

For 2018, the SafeSAN Team hopes to add additional safety training via intranet for Authority employees, as well as enhance CPR/First Aid/AED training opportunities for management employees. Additionally, to address the safety communication challenges, the team plans to develop a system to monitor the dissemination of safety communication.


2017 Snapshot

The Airport Authority hosted a “Leading at All Levels” development program in 2017, designed for employees interested in developing their leadership skills. Twenty-four participants attended four instructor-led courses, received three hours of professional coaching, and completed various assessments to help them gain awareness into their strengths and opportunities for growth. Employees with formal leadership roles such as Directors and Managers learned alongside individual contributors, who share in the ultimate success of the business. In 2017, all Authority employees received training on a variety of topics, including onboarding, safety, electronic data management and/or peer group learning.


One of the findings from the Authority’s latest employee engagement survey was to help its employees better understand career development and performance management opportunities in the organization. As such, the Authority will launch a Career Development program in 2018 and, to better address performance management concerns, will provide several sessions of Situational Leadership coaching training at both the manager and individual contributor level.

Look Ahead

In 2018, the Airport Authority will be especially focused on sustaining a high level of engagement and retention amidst an accelerating job market and the lowest unemployment in decades in San Diego (3.9%), while preparing to support the Airport Development Plan’s upcoming implementation.


2017 Snapshot

Under California law, the Airport Authority must have a full-time, independent internal auditor who directly reports to the Airport Authority Board. The Chief Auditor’s Office serves this role by providing oversight on business practices and executing audits to assist Airport Authority management in maintaining the financial and operational integrity of the organization. The Chief Auditor’s Office is also responsible for managing the Airport Authority’s Ethics Program and responding to any allegations of Ethics Code violations. In fiscal year 2017, one ethics issue and one workplace issue of concern were investigated.


No significant challenges were noted in 2017. All allegations, whether submitted through the Ethics hotline, web form or in-person were fully reviewed and investigated if warranted.

Look Ahead

The Chief Auditor’s Office will continue to oversee business practices, execute audits, manage the Ethics Program and perform other duties as needed in 2018. A new chief auditor, Lee Parravano, will also be starting in 2018.