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Arizona Airports Association

2023 Annual "Walter Burg" Fall Conference Speakers and Moderators

October 4-5, 2023

Conference Speakers

Knut Herrmann

Knut Herrmann is the Energy Management Engineer for the Phoenix system of airports, including Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT), and Phoenix Goodyear Airport (GYR). In this role he manages the development and implementation of energy management - as well as conservation policies and projects. This including a Strategic Energy Management Plan, a Sustainability Management Plan and most recently he was part of a core team in the development of a Roadmap to Carbon Net Zero for the City of Phoenix Aviation Department. He developed a 14MW Onsite renewable energy plan and led negotiations with the utility and 3rd party providers to implement solar projects at PHX.

Prior to joining the City of Phoenix Aviation Department, he worked for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs as an Energy Engineering Specialist. In this role he was responsible for the development and implementation of energy conservation and renewable energy projects as well as energy resiliency strategies at Arizona Army National Guard installations

Knut is a Certified Energy Manager, Renewable Energy Professional and a Certified Demand Side Management Professional. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology and is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) as well as American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).

Councilwoman Kesha Hodge Washington

Kesha Hodge Washington was sworn in as District 8 Councilwoman on April 17, 2023, she is the first African-American woman to be elected to the Phoenix City Council.  Councilwoman Hodge Washington serves on the Community and Cultural Investment Subcommittee and her top priorities in the district are homelessness, affordable and attainable housing, and economic development.

Councilwoman Hodge Washington moved to Arizona from the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1999 and has been active in Phoenix ever since. The daughter of a mechanic and a bookkeeper, she is a first-generation college graduate who earned her bachelor's degree from the University of the Virgin Islands and her law degree from Arizona State University College of Law.

After graduating from law school, she clerked at the Arizona Court of Appeals. She served as Assistant Attorney General working to protect children in physically and sexually abusive environments, before moving into private practice.  

Councilwoman Hodge Washington is a professional problem solver, lawyer, consensus builder, and passionate leader committed to the constructive development of our community. Her 20 years of experience in law firms, government practice, and in-house settings has given Kesha valuable insight on how to effectively achieve results.

Among her community service, she helps to raise scholarship money for high school and college students, mentors young women, and provides free legal services to those in need. She is also active with several organizations including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the American Bar Association. ‚Äč

Todd Johnson

Todd Johnson is currently working as a Senior Systems Engineer and Subject Matter Expert (SME) for CGH Technologies, Inc (CGH). CGH provides contract support to the FAA, and is responsible for the management and development of the Airport Data and Information Portal (ADIP) website hosted by the FAA Office of Airports (AAS-120). His background includes over 35+ years of airport-related work experience, including 5+ years of contract support for AAS-120. He is a retired Air Traffic Controller (22-years), and has been performing Instrument Flight Procedure Design (TERPS and ICAO Pans-Ops) and Airport/Airspace analysis for over 22-years. He is very proficient in the use of CADD/GIS software, and geo-database development. Todd is also the contract technical advisor for changes/updates to AAS-120 managed Advisory Circulars and Engineering Briefs. He is currently developing the draft update to AC 150/5300-18D – Aeronautical Survey and Data Standards for Submission into Airports GIS that will be delivered to the FAA by the end of 2021.

Jennifer Maples

Jennifer Maples is an aviation professional with over 30 years of industry experience and has spent the last 27 years at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport where she is currently the Asset Management and Sustainability Programs Administrator. Jennifer holds a degree in Aviation Business Administration with a Certificate of Emphasis in Aviation Safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She is an Accredited Airport Executive and served on the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Board of Examiners. Jennifer is active in the airport industry and has served as a member of the AAAE Board of Directors, is a Past President of both the Southwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (SWAAAE) and the Arizona Airports Association, and served as a board member for the Phoenix chapter of Women in Transportation (WTS). In addition to frequent speaker & moderator roles at industry conferences, she has been a guest lecturer at the Naval Post Graduate School, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and Kansas State University. Jennifer has been recognized by SWAAAE as a Certified Airport Executive and was honored with the President’s Award as well as the Aviation Excellence Award. She was also recognized as the WTS Member of the year and attended the prestigious WTS Leadership Academy at Rutgers.

Matthew Munden

Matthew Munden joined ADOT in June 2018 and the Aeronautics Group within ADOT in October 2019. He serves as the state technical and administrative authority for airport design and construction grants. He provides engineering and administrative inspection, audit, and review and oversight of both ADOT airport development grant project, and for the Airport Pavement Management System (APMS). Prior to employment with ADOT, he earned his Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering from the University of Arizona where he also worked as an intern for Dr. Wu at the Smart Transportation Lab, located in the U of A’s Civil Engineering Department.

Corinne Nystrom

Corinne has been employed in the airport management profession for over 37 years. She is the Airport Director at Falcon Field Airport in Mesa, Arizona and is currently serving as the Immediate Past President of the Southwest Chapter American Association of Airport Executives (SWAAAE). Corinne previously served as the Airport Manager in Grand Junction, Colorado and as President of both the Arizona Airports Association and the Colorado Airport Operators Association. She also served on the Colorado Aeronautical Board following her appointment by the Governor of Colorado. Corinne graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in business management with an emphasis in human resources and transportation management. She is an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) through the American Association of Airport Executives.

Tim Obitts

Tim Obitts is the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Alder Renewables, bringing nearly three decades of legal and executive experience to the role. Prior to joining Alder Renewables, Tim served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), a trade association of more than 3,700 companies. NATA represents aviation businesses from across the entire sector, including aviation fuel suppliers, ground handlers, FBOs, on-demand air charter, fractional air carriers, and MROs.

In this role, Tim worked on emergent issues affecting aviation businesses, including sustainability, often representing the sector before the U.S. Congress, the administration, and various federal and state agencies. Prior to serving as CEO and President, Tim served as the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for NATA. Before his time at NATA, Tim was the managing shareholder of the law firm Gammon & Grange, P.C., where he served as counsel for numerous for-profit and nonprofit firms and led advocacy efforts with Congress and federal agencies on behalf of his clients.

Tim also served as co-chair of the firm’s litigation section, focusing on constitutional law, and was with the firm for nineteen years. He is a member of the bars of California, Colorado, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Tim is admitted to practice before numerous federal District and Appellate Courts and is member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Tim is a recognized thought leader on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and speaks regularly at events worldwide. He helped found and served as the Chairperson of the Business Aviation Coalition on Sustainable Aviation Fuel and the Council on Sustainable Aviation Fuel Accountability, a collaborative effort between business and commercial aviation. In addition, Tim served on several working groups inside the Federal Aviation Administration and on a number of nonprofit boards. Raised in Santa Barbara, California, Tim received a B.A., double major in History and Philosophy, from Gordon College, where he was All-New England N.A.I.A in Tennis. He earned his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from California Western School of Law.

J. Brian O'Neill

J. Brian O’Neill is Executive Director/CEO of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority (PMGAA). He is responsible for all administrative and operational functions at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. He previously served as PMGAA’s Deputy Director/COO.

Prior to joining PMGAA in September 2015, Mr. O’Neill spent twenty years at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire; the last eight years as its Deputy Airport Director and twelve years as its Assistant Airport Director – Air Service Development, Marketing, and Public Relations.

Mr. O’Neill received a BS in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. He is also an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) with the American Association of Airport Executives.

Paul Patane

Paul Patane serves as the Multimodal Planning Division Director, supporting the statewide transportation network from planning to programming. He oversees Aeronautics, Asset Management, Corridor Planning, Grant Coordination, Planning and Programming, Research, Transit and Transportation analytics. He joined ADOT more than 40 years ago and has worked in many areas of the agency, most recently as the Southwest District engineer. 

Paul has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from San Diego State University and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Arizona.

Ryan Reeves

Mr. Reeves is the Airport Manager at Chandler Municipal Airport. His posting at Chandler comes after two-years as the Airport Coordinator of Buckeye Municipal Airport, which followed a 10-year tenure as General Manager of the Lux Air Jet Centers FBO at the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport.

Born into a General Aviation family, he took his first ride at three and is an aircraft owner, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. He began managing aircraft and flight crew support services in 1995. Outside of aviation, Mr. Reeves has instructed at both the high school and university levels and served as an administrator for program and course development. Mr. Reeves is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Illinois.

Mr. Reeves is the current Vice-President of Research for the Arizona Aviation Historical Group, an organization focused on the celebration and preservation of our state’s aviation history. He has served as the President of the Arizona Airports Association and the Phoenix Wing of the American Aviation History Association. He is a member of the Eighth Air Force Next Generation Association, the Foundation of the U.S. Air Force Museum, the Arizona Aerospace Foundation, the Experimental Aircraft Association, The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and a former docent at the Pima Air & Space Museum, as well as a public lecturer on a variety of aviation historical subjects. He is currently conducting research for a text on the history of Naval Air Facility Litchfield Park and a book on the heritage of U.S. flight crews in WWII.

Robin Sobotta

Robin is an Accredited Airport Executive with 17 years of experience at four commercial service airports and two general aviation airports, including her current position as Prescott Regional Airport’s Director. She also has extensive academic experience, most recently as the Business School Founding Chair at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott. In 2019, she was named Prescott Area Leadership Woman of the Year and AzAA’s Airport Executive of the year.

Dr. Sobotta has worked with NASA as a business/technical consultant, served on the Arizona Aerospace and Defense Commission, and served on four Airport Research Project (TRB-ACRP) panels focusing on: airport terminal design, common use passenger processing systems, and airport social media use. She has authored several publications including an airport administration book, has a Ph.D. in Public Administration from Arizona State University, and an MBA in Aviation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She enjoys golfing – and looks forward to seeing everyone at the AzAA golf tournaments!

Katia Veraza

Katia brings an educational background in Political Science and Cultural Anthropology to her career focused on government affairs and advocacy.

In her current role as the Manager of Government Affairs and Regional Relations at Helicopter Association International (HAI), Katia plays a central role in crafting and executing advocacy strategies aimed at engaging government stakeholders at the regional, state, and local levels. She works diligently to support, coordinate, and advance HAI's federal and international legislative and policy priorities. Katia serves as a liaison with government officials, addressing regional concerns impacting the rotorcraft industry and advocating for favorable legislation. Her responsibilities also involve representing HAI at local events and meetings, along with thorough research, analysis, and reporting on policy matters, including monitoring congressional committee activities affecting the general aviation industry.

Conference Moderators

Jacob Allen

Jacob Allen is the Airport Manager for the Show Low Regional Airport. Jacob has 12 years of experience working in the Arizona aviation industry and has been a member of AzAA since 2016. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management and Flight from Southern Illinois University. Jacob is an FAA certified commercial pilot and has gained experience in a wide variety of professional positions.

He began his career in the airline industry holding supervisory positions in customer service and ground operations for major Part 121 air carriers. He then served as the Airport Coordinator for Sedona-Oak Creek Airport Authority where his responsibilities included assisting the Airport Manager to plan, direct, and coordinate airport operations. He has also gained valuable experience working as an Airport Planner for an airport consulting firm that specializes in Airport Master Planning and all types of other airport planning/environmental studies for airports of all sizes and service levels.

Sarah J. Demory

Sarah Demory, A.A.E., ACE is the Assistant Aviation Director for the City of Phoenix Aviation Department leading the Airport Operations, Aviation Facilities and Services, Public Safety and Security programs as well as the teams at Phoenix Goodyear and Deer Valley Airports. Previously, she was the Airport Deputy Director for Operations and Security at the Boise, Idaho Airport leading the Airport Operations, Airfield Maintenance, Custodial and Technology teams. Prior to her role in Boise, Demory held numerous progressively responsible positions in Airport Operations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Sarah also has experience working at Omaha's Eppley Airfield as well as Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

Demory has a commercial pilot license with instrument and multi-engine ratings and is an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). She is also an AAAE Certified Member (C.M.), Certified Airport Security Coordinator, and Airport Certified Employee (ACE) - Operations. Sarah has a master of science in aviation as well as a bachelor of business administration in aviation management from the University of North Dakota. 

Kenneth Moen

Ken began his aviation journey as an Army air traffic controller serving in Kentucky, South Korea, and Alabama from 1977-1981. In 1982, Ken was hired as an air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration while earning BS Professional Aeronautics and Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Following retirement from the FAA in 2009, Ken spent a year at Baghdad International Airport training Iraqi controllers and supporting US Military operations with Washington Consulting Group. Ken began his civilian airport career in 2011 at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport advancing through airport operations and administration. Ken completed his AAE airport management accreditation in July 2016. In March 2018, Ken assumed the airport manager position at the Carson City Airport (CXP) until his retirement in March 2021. In April 2021, Ken was hired by Armstrong Consultants as a Special Projects Manager and Airport Planner. Ken serves as the SWAAAE Legislative Committee Chair and is the President of the Nevada Aviation Association. Ken has been married to Denise for 40 years…in a row! Ken is a father of two and grandpa of one.

Gabriel Nevarez

Gabriel is currently the Deputy Aviation Director overseeing the Facilities and Services Division (F&S) at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and has held this position since February 2020.

Sky Harbor is in many ways comparable to a smaller city in terms of its size, budget, organizational structure, and the number of people working there. The F&S Division functions similarly to a city's Public Works department. It manages an operating budget of over $100 million and has approximately 450 staff members. In this role, he is tasked with the primary responsibility of ensuring that F&S provides support to the airport by ensuring that the buildings, equipment, and grounds are well maintained, safe, clean, and welcoming.

Gabriel has been with the City of Phoenix over 17 years in various capacities all within F&S. He has over 30 years of experience working in the transportation industry, primarily in managerial roles of varying scope and responsibility.

Dave Reffner

David Reffner has been the Airport Manager at the KCGZ – Casa Grande Municipal since June 2018. His primary duties include planning and directing the daily operations of a busy general aviation airport; developing short and long term planning and goals for the Airport; promoting airport development through marketing and development of airport policies and procedures. He also works on ACIP preparation and presentation and grant/project management. He coordinates with FAA, ADOT and other agencies on Airport and Air Transportation matters and has been affiliated with AzAA since 2015.

Prior to working as an Airport Manager, David was the Airport Operations Technician for the KCGZ – Casa Grande Municipal from August 2012 to June 2018. He worked on the management of airport lease agreements and was the acting FBO operations. David is ACE Fuel Safety Supervisor Certified and NATA Safety 1st Professional Line Service Technician.

David is also a Reserve Firefighter II/EMT/SRT and has been since September 2013. He provides fire protection and emergency medical services to the citizens of Rural Pinal County. He is Firefighter 1 & 2 certified and is a certified Arizona DHS Emergency Medical Technician.

David currently attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is in the Aviation Business Administration Program. He previously attended the Central Arizona College from 2013 to 2014 in the Emergency Medical Services Program. He also holds a Business major and Fire Science minor from Northland Pioneer College.

Jeffrey Tripp

Jeff is currently the Airport Manager for Cottonwood Municipal Airport and has worked in airport management since 1996 after graduation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott) in a number of positions at Scottsdale, Chandler, Mesa-Falcon Field, and Prescott as well as several out of state airports. He has been an accredited airport executive since 2006 and previously served on the AzAA Board between 2004 and 2011 including a term as Association President in 2009-2010.

Contact Us
1800 E. Ray Rd.,
Suite A106
Chandler, AZ 85225
P: (480) 403-4618
F: (480) 935-5270

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