Public meets finalists for airport director position |

Public meets finalists for airport director position

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times
The three finalists for airport director at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport are, from left, Brian Grefe, Roy Williams and John Kinney.
Michael McLaughlin/The Aspen Times |

The three leading candidates for the position of airport director at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport met with the public Thursday night at the airport.

The three finalists are Brian Grefe, 33, Roy Williams, 59, and John Kinney, 54.

Grefe is the current assistant director of aviation at the airport and has held his position in Aspen since 2012. He previously served as operations director for the Duluth Airport Authority. Williams is the former director of the New Orleans and Salt Lake City international airports. Kinney is currently the director of emergency management at Los Angeles International Airport.

Each candidate made arguments as to why he would fit as the new airport director.

“What sets me apart is my history in Aspen,” said Grefe, a Minnesota native who now lives in Snowmass Village. “I’ve had a tremendous opportunity to be a part of this community for the past 21/2 years. I know the values and expectations we hold here. I’m in a great position to continue a lot of the work that the airport has done to foster these values.

“The experience I have is very relevant to Aspen and Aspen specific. This would be a career position for me, and it’s a community I want to be a part of for a long time. This is the community’s airport, and I’ll work towards keeping the values of this community in mind moving forward with anything we do at the airport.”

Kinney grew up in San Diego and has worked at a variety of airports during the past 28 years, including Denver International and Los Angeles International. He spent three years with the Transportation Security Administration as a federal security director. He also spent some time in the aviation private sector.

“I have a 360-degree view of the industry,” Kinney said. “It was very insightful for me to spend some time in the private sector. You grow up in the government sector and you’re maybe not quite as sensitive to some of the business decisions and the challenges and risks those folks in the private sector take.

“Airports are very interesting community members. They can directly or indirectly impact and influence the quality of life in a community. I believe community involvement is a plus and necessary. This is the community’s airport, and people want to be part of developing it in the right way. The next 10 to 15 years will be very exciting here. The changes being discussed are for the right reasons.”

Williams grew up in Idaho and has extensive experience working in the United States and abroad. He’s managed airports in Ohio, Louisiana and Utah. He’s also managed airports in Bolivia, Liberia and England.

“This job is a fascinating mix of the day-to-day running of a complex airport with lots of interesting weather issues, facility issues and customer issues,” Williams said. “You also have a community faced with some very big decisions about the future of its airport. I’d love to be involved in that process and help this community make the best decisions. This community needs a steady, experienced hand with the future decisions this airport must make. Each decision must be taken with the overall vision of the community in mind as to what they want this airport to be. That’s the kind of work I’ve done in airport design and airport management throughout my career.”

ADK Consulting and Executive Search, a company specializing exclusively in searches for airport executives, selected the candidates for the position from a total of 12 applicants who underwent a rigorous screening process.

County Manager Jon Peacock will ultimately make the final decision on the hire. There’s still one more round of interviews today before Peacock collects input from the community and the stakeholders at the airport.

“This is such an important decision for our community that I don’t want to rush the process,” Peacock said. “Hopefully, I’ll have a decision next week.”


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