Even 22 years later, the stories of esteemed aviation leaders and their response to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks continue to provide learning opportunities for the benefit of future airport industry professionals.
As we hold space today to remember those we lost and honor those who helped in the aftermath on September 11, we are proud to honor the legacy of so many aviation leaders through the “Reclaiming the Sky Resiliency Project,” an essay contest organized by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University and ACI-NA to engage up-and-coming airport industry leaders.
Through this year’s essay contest, young professionals from across the airport industry were invited to read the stories of aviation heroes profiled in the book, “Reclaiming the Sky,” by Tom Murphy, and participate in a workshop with aviation mentors to explore lessons about resiliency.
Twenty-five openings were allotted for the program. Participants had the chance to learn about the stories of airport and airline employees who went to work in New York, Boston, and Washington, DC, on the morning of 9/11 expecting a normal day, only to find that “just doing my job” was to become the creed of heroes. The stories, including the powerful teachings from Susan M. Baer, the General Manager of Newark Liberty International Airport on 9/11, tell how the front-line aviation employees responded with courage, selflessness, and resiliency that day and in the weeks and months that followed to rebuild their lives and reclaim hope – while helping to get the country moving again.
This year’s winners were Michael Gyan, Project Manager, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport; Salvatore Mendola, Director, Brands and Concept Development, Areas USA; and Deborah Blass, Arup, Associates, Security and Risk. Their award-winning essays can be read at ReclaimingTheSky.com.
In addition to cash prizes, these three winners will also be recognized for their achievements during the 2023 ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Long Beach, CA, on October 3.
The young professionals who participated in the 2023 include Deborah Blass, Arup; Carey Metcalfe, Lee County PA; LaTarryl Hall, City of Charlotte; Ryan Thomas, Parsons Group; Adam Ussher, Dane County Airport; Anna Phillips, Columbus Airport; Michael Hamilton, Savannah Airport Commission; Michael Gyan, John C. Munro Hamilton Airport; Juan Martinez, Chicago Dept of Aviation; Antonette Chambers, Clarksville Airport; Kendall Griswold, GSP Airport; Arjun Nair, Syracuse Airport; Jimmy Vazques, San Diego Airport; Aireyanna Kennedy, Syracuse Airport; Benjamin Torres, San Diego Airport; James Gerrald, Jacobs; Ana Zivanovic, San Francisco Airport; Esther Chitsinde, HDR; Christopher Liese, Munich Airport USA Holding; Anandhi Mahalingam, Transsolutions; Kristin Jewell, Baton Rouge Airport; Julie Seglem, Areas USA; Madison Strong, Tulsa Airport; Roeland Visser, InterVISTAS; Jeff Taylor, Jacksonville Airport, Salvatore Mendola, Areas USA; Brooke Bowman, Areas USA.
Judges for the essay competition were aviation industry leaders Cedric Fulton, Virginia Buckingham, Lysa Leiponis, Eileen Ammiano, John Duval, Kathy Denker, Debbie Roland and Jennifer Juul.