RENO, NV – 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 2021 ACI-NA Finance Professional of the Year Award — recognizing finance professionals from Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA), and City of Oklahoma Department of Airports.
“One of the biggest challenges airports have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic has been meeting their financial obligations,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “Ensuring financial stability means keeping the lights on, supporting jobs, and providing for the safety of passengers and employees. Each of this year’s winners remained committed to those important goals and found effective solutions to address the challenges our industry has encountered. I congratulate them all on this incredible achievement.”
Large Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Kathleen Sharman, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA)
Drawing from more than 30 years of experience as a Chief Financial Officer in the transportation industry, Kathleen Sharman helped manage MCO’s financial obligations and supported the airport’s tenants through compliance and creative relief programs. By working with two other large hub airports and financial experts to demonstrate the creditworthiness and essential nature of airports, her efforts are believed to have helped airports maintain their credit ratings from most of the rating agencies during the pandemic. Sharman led efforts to navigate financial mitigation measures in response to the pandemic in a strategically balanced manner and developed a strategic plan to best utilize federal stimulus grants, leveraging that assistance to gain an additional $32 million in debt service savings. During the pandemic, she also obtained an additional $100 million in liquidity facilities for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) and developed a GOAA Board-approved $3.5 billion capital improvement plan. Sharman is an active participant in the ACI-NA Finance Committee Steering Group, presenting at conferences and periodically moderating monthly CFO calls.
Medium Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Marge Basrai, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA)
As Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Marge Basrai’s commitment and performance have gained her respect and recognition both in the industry and in her community. Having spent 20 years working in airport finance, she has made significant contributions at the Nashville International Airport (BNA) during her nearly four-year tenure there. Many of her efforts have focused on creating new and efficient processes and documenting policies, resulting in improvements in the timeliness and accuracy of financial reporting. Basrai also led the financial strategy for a $1.4 billion capital program to renovate and expand the airport, BNA’s largest capital program to date. During the pandemic, she maintained strong financial metrics and reduced fees to airlines while maintaining and increasing cash reserves. Basrai is a volunteer member of the ACI-NA Finance Committee Steering Group and chair of the group’s the Airport/Airline Business Working Group.
Small Airport Finance Professional of the Year: Tara Summerlin, City of Oklahoma Department of Airports
Tara Summerlin serves as Business Manager for Will Rogers World Airport (OKC), where she oversees all financial and business aspects of the airport’s operations. During her time at OKC, she has been responsible for the financial oversight of an $89 million terminal expansion project, which adds four new airline gates, a consolidated security checkpoint, and much-needed circulation space. The project is the airport’s first major expansion in twelve years. During the pandemic, Summerlin has helped lead efforts resulting in the retention of every employee and increases in overall cash due to diligent budgeting, forecasting, and spending. Those efforts involved working closely with tenants, contractors, and staff to ensure financial responsibility without sacrificing customer service. In addition to her work at OKC, Summerlin is an active volunteer and leader in numerous community and professional organizations.