Three Interviewed For County Aviation Directors Post
By Sherri C. Ranta
Three top managers from Denver, Atlanta and Minneapolis-St. Paul airports are among those seeking the vacant aviation director’s position in Miami-Dade County.
Interviewed in a marathon session May 6 were Bruce Baumgartner, former manager of aviation in Denver; Mario C. Diaz, deputy general manager in Atlanta; and Steve Wareham, director at Minneapolis-St. Paul, said county spokeswoman Aimee Artiles.
County Manager George Burgess and his seven-member screening committee interviewed the three candidates in Miami, Ms. Artiles said. Korn-Ferry International, the county’s executive search firm, forwarded the names to the committee.
Mr. Burgess is expected to produce a "couple" additional candidates to be interviewed by the committee in the next week. Ms. Artiles said the selection process is on target and county officials expect to name a new director this month.
Former Miami Beach mayor Niesen Kasdin, a member of the committee, said the committee is interested in pursuing at least two of the three candidates. "Overall, I thought the candidates were good, although I think they did not feel that one candidate was so strong that you can stop looking now."
Mr. Kasdin said Korn-Ferry prepared a list of questions to ask the candidates. He said he asked about greatest strengths and weaknesses and how the candidates would deal with elected officials. "I think it’s an element of the job, so they have to have an approach to it."
The job came open when Angela Gittens resigned in November 2004 after conflicts with Mr. Burgess and American Airlines.
The new director will be responsible for running Miami International Airport and the county’s three general-aviation airports – Homestead General, Kendall-Tamiami Executive and Opa-locka Airport – and overseeing the Miami airport’s $4.8 billion capital-improvement program.
Interim Aviation Director Carlos Bonzon applied for the position but later withdrew from consideration.
Mr. Baumgartner is president of governmental services for Construction Management & Development Inc. He was manager of aviation at Denver International Airport from May 1998 to July 2003. According to Mr. Baumgartner’s resume, Denver International is the fifth-busiest airport in the US with an annual operating budget of more than $200 million and a five-year budget for capital improvements of more than $500 million. The department of aviation there has more than 1,000 employees.
Mr. Diaz became deputy general manager of Hartsfield Atlanta in 1999. Now called Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson, it is the world’s busiest airport. Before going to Atlanta, he was manager of the property and commercial-development division of New Jersey Airports for the New York-New Jersey port authority from 1994 to 1998. He began his career with the authority in 1985 as manager of finance at Newark International Airport.
Mr. Wareham became airport director of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in January 2004 after serving as the airport’s assistant director for facilities from October 1998.