Airports Council Awards 2022 Leon C. Watkins Guardian Award for Excellence in Business Diversity to DFW’s Tamela Lee

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), the trade association representing commercial service airports in the United States and Canada, last night announced Tamela Lee, Vice President of Business Diversity and Development at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) as the recipient of the 2022 ACI-NA Leon C. Watkins Guardian Award for Excellence in Business Diversity.

“Tamela Lee exemplifies the truest legacy of Leon Watkins with her spirit of collaboration and cooperation in growing opportunities for disadvantaged business,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke.  “We congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition and look forward to her continued contributions to the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the North American airport industry.”

In the past year, Lee’s leadership resulted in $84 million in overall expenditures in Disadvantaged, Minority, Women Business Enterprise participation and $142 million in overall Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) revenue. Lee oversees the Capacity Building Program, a signature business diversity program in its seventh year that includes education courses designed to increase outreach to diverse businesses, assist newly certified firms, and grow existing firms at DFW. During Fiscal Year 2021, 14 courses were offered over six months. Attendance was recorded at more than 400, with a 92 percent overall satisfaction rate.

“Receiving the Leon C. Watkins Guardian award is a tremendous honor,” said Tamela Lee.  “Mr. Watkins was a pillar in this industry, advocating for civil rights and fostering opportunities for minorities and women. I am truly humbled and thankful to DFW International Airport leadership and my team for their commitment to supplier diversity and to colleagues at ACI-NA for this recognition of my life’s work.”

Lee also serves on DFW’s Diversity Leadership Council that promotes conversations that increase awareness, minimizes bias, and addresses inequities in the workplace. Her responsibilities include shaping inclusion efforts, supporting talent acquisition, working with Employee Resource Groups and providing feedback on program effectiveness. She engages airport leaders and ensures accountability by providing scorecards for every department on their attainment toward D/S/M/WBEs goals which are part of the Airport’s Key Performance Index.

Expanding diversity throughout the community is also a focus for Lee. She is a member of the Visit Dallas Diversity and Inclusion Board Committee that provides leadership and executive engagement for the organization’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy through education, engagement, and community connections and collaborations.

About the Leon C. Watkins Guardian Award

Established in 2020, the Leon C. Watkins Guardian Award for Excellence in Business Diversity recognizes a business diversity leader who has promoted the growth and evolution of minority- and women-owned businesses and suppliers, while also fostering the advancement of civil rights and equal opportunities for all within the airport business environment.

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About ACI-NA

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) represents local, regional, and state governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports in the United States and Canada. ACI-NA member airports enplane more than 95 percent of the domestic and virtually all the international airline passenger and cargo traffic in North America. Approximately 380 aviation-related businesses are also members of ACI-NA, providing goods and services to airports. Collectively, U.S. airports support more than 11.5 million jobs and account for $1.4 trillion in economic activity – or more than seven percent of the total U.S. GDP. Canadian airports support 405,000 jobs and contribute C$35 billion to Canada’s GDP. Learn more at