SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), the trade association representing commercial service airports in the United States and Canada, today announced the recipients of the 2023 ACI-NA Finance Professional of the Year Award — recognizing finance professionals from Denver International Airport, Lee County Port Authority, and Missoula Montana Airport.
“Solutions-oriented finance professionals like Mike, Brian, and Teri are critical to the long-term success of North American airports and the communities they serve,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “As we look toward the future of our industry after so many challenging years, financial stability and effective leadership are imperative. This year’s honorees have exemplified what it means to approach financial challenges with a strategic perspective to deliver meaningful results for their airports and employees.”
The recipients were announced during an awards gala dinner at the 2023 ACI-NA Business of Airports Conference in Scottsdale, which was attended by more than 700 commercial management, business diversity, human resources, and finance professionals from the North American airport industry.
Large Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Mike Nakornkhet, Denver International Airport
An aviation professional with more than 20 years of experience, Mike Nakornkhet joined Denver International Airport (DEN) in 2021 as Chief Financial Officer. In this role, he quickly devised a two-year plan that led DEN through one of the fastest financial recoveries in the United States. Nakornkhet brought back $500 million in Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projects that had been paused due to the pandemic and successfully made the case for a $1.3 billion Great Hall redevelopment project to facilitate passenger growth that is already exceeding 2019 levels.
Nakornkhet has also championed DEN’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) initiatives, having identified $300 million in contracting and hiring opportunities with an EDIA focus. A key component of the Great Hall completion project is a “Center of Equity and Excellence in Aviation (CEEA),” a first-of-its-kind workforce training center to provide opportunities for underrepresented youth who are interested in careers in aviation.
Since 2020, Nakornkhet has served pro-bono as chair of the Executive Board of the International Airport Professional Community of Practice (IAP CoP), a community of more than 1,200 ACI/ICAO Airport Management Professional Accreditation Program (AMPAP) graduates.
Medium Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Brian McGonagle, Lee County Port Authority
In the more than 26 years that Brian McGonagle has been with the Lee County Port Authority, he has risen from an entry-level budget analyst to become the Chief Financial Officer of Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) and Page Field (FMY). He has led several successful bond financing transactions throughout his career, most recently shepherding the 2021A Refunding of $139.6 million. The transaction achieved net present value savings of $45.4 million, or 32.5 percent. Three months later, RSW issued Airport Revenue Bonds, 2021B for $260 million. This was a new money transaction for the currently underway $331 million Terminal Expansion Project, the second-largest public works project in Lee County’s history. Due in large part to McGonagle’s skilled financial operations and focus on his airports’ financial resilience, no Lee County Port Authority employees were laid off during the 2008 recession or during the COVID-19 pandemic. McGonagle previously served as a four-year member of the ACI-NA Finance Committee Steering Group and chaired the Membership Engagement Working Group to help CFOs who are new to the industry connect with ACI-NA’s airport finance community.
Small Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Teri Norcross, Missoula Montana Airport
Teri Norcross has spent more than 25 years in her current position as Director of Finance at the Missoula Montana Airport (MSO), where her purposeful leadership has kept the airport financially sound and served as a valuable resource to both airport staff and tenants. Early last year, MSO completed the first phase of a new $68 million airport terminal project, which happened on time and $2.6 million under budget. Norcross’ financial strategy reduced future interest expenses related to the long-term debt issued to finance the new airport terminal. This strategy successfully resulted in a $4.6 million positive cash flow through the term of the notes. To account for the construction cost related to the new airport terminal, Norcross developed proprietary construction in progress (CIP) and fixed-asset spreadsheets. In fiscal year 2022, the Missoula County Airport Authority (MCAA) recorded over $28 million in addition to CIP and transferred approximately $79 million of CIP assets to in-service. Other airports across the state of Montana have benefitted from Norcross sharing her accounting knowledge of CIP and fixed assets.