about

AIRPORT AUTHORITY ADMINISTRATION

Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority

Gerald R. Ford International Airport is managed and operated by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority.

Our mission is to provide safe, secure, efficient, environmentally sensitive, economically self-sustaining and globally infused air transportation facilities responsive to regional needs.

Policy and general oversight of GFIA are the responsibility of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority Board, a seven-member body appointed by the Kent County Board of Commissioners.

GFIA is managed and operated by an Executive Staff comprising the President & CEO, Senior Vice President & COO, Vice President & CFO, a management team representative of the airport's primary functional areas, and a 100 member Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority staff. The airport is financially self-supporting and receives no funding from property taxes, general funds, or special taxes. Airport operations and improvements generate local net airport revenue, rather than consume valuable tax dollars.

GFIAA is composed of four primary divisions: Finance & Administration, including finance, information technology, parking, and administrative support services; Public Safety & Operations, including firefighting, police, and airport operations; Facilities, including building maintenance, airfield maintenance, and engineering; and Marketing & Communications, including air service development, community affairs, and media relations.

The Authority's regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. The administrative offices are located on the mezzanine level of the passenger terminal building.

LEADERSHIP

Meet the People Behind the Services

James R. Gill, A.A.E., IAP
President & CEO
James R. Gill, A.A.E., IAP is the President & Chief Executive Officer for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. He is responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the airport.

Prior to assuming his current duties in January 2017, he was Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer for the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, PA. He was responsible for day-to-day oversight of the airport system and its 460+ staff members, as well as major initiatives such as air service negotiations, airline agreement negotiations, real estate development, etc. Mr. Gill has held a number of positions within the aviation industry including: Contract Administrator Supervisor & Finance Director, both with the Allegheny County Department of Aviation in Pittsburgh, PA beginning in 1993, Deputy Executive Director - Finance & Administration with the Allegheny County Airport Authority, Pittsburgh, PA beginning in 1997, Deputy Airport Director - Finance, Business & Administration/CFO with the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority in Raleigh, NC beginning in 2001, and then returning to the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, PA in 2001 as the Executive Vice President and CFO. Mr. Gill has nearly 25 years experience in the aviation management industry.

Mr. Gill holds a Master of Business Administration from Duquesne University with concentrations in Finance, Accounting and Management Information Systems and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting from Duquesne University.

Mr. Gill is an Accredited Airport Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), is a member of their Board of Examiners and is a member of their Finance & Administration Committee. Mr. Gill is an International Airport Professional (IAP) with Airports Council International (ACI) & International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He is a member of the Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA) Finance Committee, and is a Certified Public Accountant.


Phillip E. Johnson, A.A.E.
Senior VP & COO
Phillip E. Johnson, A.A.E. is the Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. He is responsible for assisting the President & Chief Executive Officer and directing the day-to-day operations of the airport.

Prior to assuming his current duties in October 1994, he was Superintendent - Airport Operations at Long Beach Airport, Long Beach, California. He managed the day-to-day airport operations at Long Beach, which is an airport of similar size and staff to GFIA. Mr. Johnson also served as an Operations Coordinator at Los Angeles International Airport. In this capacity, he coordinated all airport operational duties at this major international air carrier airport. Mr. Johnson has held a number of aviation related positions prior to beginning his airport management career in 1989. These included: Systems Engineer for Hughes Aircraft Company - designing air defense and air traffic control systems; Air Traffic Control Specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration - controlling air traffic at Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center; and Manager, Aircraft Ground Services for National Air Enterprises - managing aircraft line service functions at a Fixed Base Operator (FBO). Mr. Johnson has over 30 years experience in aviation based industries.

Mr. Johnson holds a Master of Science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Azusa Pacific University, and an Associate of Science degree in Air Traffic Management from Mount San Antonio College. Mr. Johnson is a current pilot holding a commercial pilot license with instrument and multi-engine ratings. He has been flying for 35 years and has owned three aircraft during that period.

Mr. Johnson is an Accredited Airport Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). He also holds professional affiliations with the Great Lakes Chapter of AAAE (GL-AAAE) and the Michigan Association of Airport Executives (MAAE). Mr. Johnson served as President of MAAE for 2002/2003. Mr. Johnson served as President of the GL-AAAE for 2008/2009. Mr. Johnson chaired the National Air Service Conference, an annual conference sponsored jointly by AAAE and the Great Lakes Chapter of AAAE for 2005 and 2006. Mr. Johnson served on the AAAE Board of Directors from 2011 - 2013 and as Chair of the AAAE Airline Economics and Air Service Committee from 2011 - 2014. Mr. Johnson served on the Board of Directors for Experience Grand Rapids, the local convention and visitor's bureau from 2011 - 2013. Mr. Johnson currently serves on the Michigan Aeronautics Commission's Commercial Air Service Committee and on AAAE's Policy Review Committee providing advice to the Board of Directors.



Brian Picardat, A.A.E.
Vice President & CFO

Brian Picardat is the Vice President & Chief Financial Officer for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. He is responsible for the financial operations of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. He oversees the Accounting Department, the Information Technology function, Purchasing function, the Parking and Ground Transportation function and the Property Administration function. Mr. Picardat is also the Authority’s Treasurer and FOIA Coordinator.

Prior to assuming his present duties in July 1989, he was a Fiscal Officer for Kent County Community Mental Health. In this position, he was responsible for oversight of approximately 35 contract agencies' expenditures of allocated funds from the Department of Mental Health.

From 1984 - 1987, he was Business Manager for Salvation Army Substance Abuse. As Business Manager, he was the only financial person handling all financial aspects of an agency with a budget of $1,000,000 annually.

Current professional affiliations include: Government Finance Officers Association, American Association of Airport Executives where he is a member of the Finance and Administration Committee and the Chair of the Audit Committee, and Michigan Association of Airport Executives, where he served on the Board as President in 2009-2010.

 


Thomas R. Ecklund, P.E.
Engineering & Facilities Director
Thomas R. Ecklund is the Engineering & Facilities Director for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. He is responsible for organizing and administering the design, construction, operation, maintenance and repair of Airport facilities at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, including airfield pavements and lighting systems, terminal building, roads, parking lots, utility systems, and other Airport owned buildings. He oversees these activities through the Engineering/Planning Division, Field Maintenance Division, and Building Maintenance Division, and various service contracts.

Prior to assuming his current position in March 2003 he managed engineering, survey, and planning staff for private sector engineering firms in West Michigan. He was responsible for daily operations including profit and loss, project schedules, budgets, Quality Assurance/Quality Control, technical oversight, and staff development.

From 1986 – 1994 Mr. Ecklund was the Assistant City Manager/Public Works for the City of Grand Rapids overseeing a staff of 550 and a budget of $50 million; and from 1972 – 1986 he held various positions with the City of Flint, including the position of City Engineer, where we was the project manager on numerous projects at Bishop International Airport.

Mr. Ecklund holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Michigan.

Professional affiliations include Airports Council International (ACI) as a member of the Environmental Affairs Committee, the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the Great Lakes Chapter of AAAE, Michigan Association of Airport Executives, and Michigan and National Society of Professional Engineers.


Lisa M. Carr, C.M., P.E.M.
Public Safety & Operations Director
Lisa M. Carr, C.M., P.E.M. is the Public Safety and Operations Director for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. She is responsible for developing short and long range plans, policies, protocols and standard operating procedures to ensure the safe, secure and efficient operation of the airport. She ensures the airport is in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and all other federal, state and local regulations governing airport operations.

Prior to assuming the current position in August 2015, Lisa was the Director of Operations for the Capital Region International Airport. In this position she was responsible for Security and Operations at the airport, overseeing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations. She served as the Airport Security Coordinator and Trusted Agent in her relationship with TSA. She was also the airport Emergency Manager and worked with Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) and was a liaison on the Region 1 Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (EMHSD) Board.

Lisa served the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan in many capacities for 20 years. From 2003-2013 she was the Operations Manager, ensuring compliance with FAA and TSA regulations as well as emergency management; from 2002-2003, she served as an Operations Supervisor, overseeing the communications center and airfield operations; and from 1995-2002, she began her career as an Operations Officer, with responsibilities first in the communications center and then adding responsibilities for airfield operations.

Mrs. Carr holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and an Associates of Arts degree from Kirkland Community College. She is a Certified Member with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and a Professional Emergency Manager with the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD).

Professional affiliations include Airports Council International (ACI) as a member of the Public Safety & Security Committee, the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and the Michigan Association of Airport Executives.


Tara M. Hernandez
Marketing & Communications Director

Tara M. Hernandez is the Marketing and Communications Director at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority.  She is responsible for airport marketing, advertising, public relations and media communications, social media, as well as event planning, air service development, community outreach, and customer service.
Tara joined the Airport team in May 2013 after spending the previous decade in the media as a sports anchor and reporter.  She worked locally in Grand Rapids at WXMI-FOX 17 for over five years where she managed the sports department and served as a sports anchor/reporter for nightly newscasts.  In her time in Grand Rapids, Tara covered the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, the Stanley Cup playoffs, three NCAA Final Fours/National Championships as well as countless human interest stories.  She won MAB (Michigan Association of Broadcasters) awards for Best Feature Reporting and was a three-time winner for Best Special Show Broadcast for “The Blitz” – FOX’s high school football show. Prior to Grand Rapids, Tara worked as a sports anchor/reporter for WJBF News Channel Six in Augusta, Georgia.  In Augusta, Tara covered the famous Masters Golf Tournament interviewing legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.  She won GAB (Georgia Association of Broadcasters) awards for Feature Reporting as well as for her work on “Football Friday Night,” a local high school football show.
In her time in at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Mrs. Hernandez has launched GFIA: Gentle Fur in Action – a therapy dog program to help relieve stresses associated with travel. In 2015, improvements in customer service and infrastructure helped GRR land the title of #1 Airport in North America (by size – 2-5 Million Passengers). Mrs. Hernandez has also increased the airport’s social media following and organized contests & special events for passengers.
Mrs. Hernandez graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism.  She also minored in Spanish & received a CLACS (Certification in Latin American & Caribbean Studies).

Tara is a volunteer tutor with the West Michigan Literacy Center, and she serves on the LaughFest Cabinet, the Grand Rapids Chamber Marketing Committee, the West Michigan Sports Commission Advisory Council, and the Experience Grand Rapids Diversity Council.


Lisa Belt
Human Resources Director

Lisa Belt’s professional career comprises two-and-a-half decades of strategic Human Resource Management, organizational development, benefits and compensation management and employee relations.  Lisa was selected in June of 2015 to manage the human resource transition of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to an independent Airport Authority. This included new system implementations, creation of policy and procedures, recruitment, retention & onboarding, benefit procurement, payroll administration, union contract review and retirement plan analysis and selection.

Lisa’s background spans a variety of industries including international manufacturing, education, finance and non-profits.  Lisa holds a Bachelors of Business Administration Degree from Northwood University in addition to her professional Human Resource certification.

Lisa is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), Workforce Development Council and Association for Human Resource Management – Grand Rapids (AHRM).  As a Human Resource professional, Lisa works to implement strategies and procedures that drive efficiencies, align organizational structures to meet defined objectives, and advocates for diverse and inclusive work environments where all employees are valued.