Karen Ellis Named 2020 Ted Bushelman Legacy Award for Creativity and Excellence Recipient

WASHINGTON — Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) today announced Karen Ellis, Chief Customer Experience Officer for the San Antonio Airport System, as the 2020 recipient of the Ted Bushelman Legacy Award for Creativity and Excellence. The Bushelman Award recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of airport marketing, communications, and customer experience professionals. The award was presented to Ellis during a virtual awards ceremony on December 17, 2020.

“Karen Ellis is a passionate advocate for improving the airport experience for all passengers and finding innovative ways to ensure high standards of customer care,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “Her work sets the standard for high-quality airport customer experiences, and her commitment to collaborating with her peers on proven best practices has advanced the role of customer experience throughout the aviation industry, making this award well-deserved.”

As the Chief Customer Experience Officer for the San Antonio Airport System, Ellis oversees numerous departments including Arts, Culture and Music, Customer Experience, Governmental and Military Affairs, Public Relations, and the Volunteer/Ambassador Program.

Ellis developed and implemented an airport wide Customer Experience Program for San Antonio International Airport, including the creation and implementation of appearance, behavioral, safety and service standards, and a unified service culture across the airport.

Prior to her time at the San Antonio Airport System, Ellis worked as the Director of Customer Service for the Houston Airport System and as Senior Customer Service Manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Throughout her career, Ellis has emphasized collaboration and education as key to advancing the industry. She frequently participates in industry conferences and symposiums and has educated thousands of industry professionals on best practices for enhancing the passenger experience. Additionally, Ellis currently serves as a member of the ACI-NA Marketing, Communications, and Customer Experience Committee Steering Group and is co-chair of the committee’s Customer Experience Working Group.  Ellis also serves as one of the committee’s representatives on ACI-NA’s Airport Industry Recovery Advisory Panel to help develop guidance to the industry as it prepares for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ted Bushelman Legacy Award for Creativity and Excellence is named for its first recipient, Ted Bushelman, who served as Senior Director of Communications at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport for 40 years.

The award is presented each year to an individual nominated and selected by his or her peers in the airport industry. This special award recognizes the values, accomplishments and creativity of airport marketing, communications, and customer experience professionals who also share those talents and contribute to the legacy of professionalism experienced throughout our meetings and programs.

In addition, the individual who is selected must have a record of demonstrating his or her skills, expertise, and professionalism in some or all of the following areas:

  • Promotes the professionalism of the marketing, communications, and customer experience disciplines within the airport industry;
  • Has a history of generating and embracing new ideas to promote and support his or her airport’s programs and services;
  • Actively shares his or her knowledge and experience with other marketing, communications, and customer experience professionals within the airport industry;
  • Participates in the ACI-NA Marketing, Communications, and Customer Experience Committee and attends its programs; and
  • Promotes the importance, and advances the understanding, of airports and aviation within the broader community.

Past Bushelman Award Winners

  • 2008 – Ted Bushelman, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport
  • 2009 – Michael Conway, Detroit Metropolitan Airport
  • 2010 – Jerry Staples, Halifax International Airport
  • 2011 – Tara Hamilton, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
  • 2012 – Patricia Rowe, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport
  • 2013 – Not awarded
  • 2014 – Lucinda Harshman, Pittsburgh International Airport
  • 2015 – Carolyn Fennell, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
  • 2016 – Dickie Davis, Miami International Airport
  • 2017 – Not awarded
  • 2018 – Not awarded
  • 2019 – Brad Martin, Boston Logan International Airport
  • 2020 – Karen Ellis, San Antonio Airport System




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 www.airportscouncil.org.