Burgess Names Panel To Help Search For Aviation Director
By Sherri C. Ranta
Business and civic leaders and an executive search firm are to meet this month to help Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess choose an aviation director to run Miami International Airport and its $4.8 billion expansion.
Mr. Burgess said he hopes to have a director in place by early April. While it is his hiring decision, the county commission can review the director’s contract if one is involved. He said he will meet with the committee this month to review qualifications of candidates interested in the position.
The new director also would oversee operations at Homestead General, Kendall-Tamiami Executive and Opa-locka airports.
Mr. Burgess named seven to the committee and search firm Korn-Ferry International to help guide the process.
Committee members are Jorge Arrizurieta, executive director of Florida FTAA; Jorge Hernandez-Torano, chairman of the Miami Business Forum; Neisen Kasdin, chairman-elect of the Beacon Council and former Miami Beach mayor; and R. Donahue Peebles, chairman of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Also named were George Spofford, retired director of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and former deputy director at Miami International; Rosa Sugrañes, chairwoman of Iberia Tiles; and Cathy Jackson, director of the county’s department of audit and management services.
Mr. Burgess said before naming committee members that they would be business leaders "who have a direct stake in strong, professional growth, development and management of our aviation system."
The county has about 163 resumes, he said, but the "top people in the profession" may be waiting to put their names in the hat. "They may be running another airport right now." Korn-Ferry International is expected to bring a slate of candidates to the table.
The aviation director’s position became vacant in November with the resignation of Angela Gittens, who was hired in 2001 by then-county manager Merrett Stierheim.
Mr. Burgess put Ms. Gittens under management watch last year and stripped her of authority to run the capital-improvement project at Miami International after complaints by American Airlines. She resigned shortly thereafter. The two administrators were at odds for several months.
Assistant County Manager Carlos Bonzon, a 30-year veteran of county service, is interim aviation director. He previously served for three years as deputy director in charge of the airport’s expansion. He said this week that he will seek the position on a permanent basis.