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Florida Transportation Secretary Picked as Preferred Candidate for New Orlando Airport CEO

ORLANDO, FL. – The search for the next Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) reached an important milestone today. After considering presentations and interviews of the four finalists at a special morning meeting, the GOAA Board voted 6-1 to select Florida Secretary of Transportation Kevin Thibault as the preferred candidate to succeed the retiring Phil Brown. The next step will be for the Authority to negotiate an agreement with Mr. Thibault before officially naming him CEO.

Florida DOT secretary Kevin Thibault speaks with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) during a special meeting to select a new CEO for the Orlando International Airport on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. Photos by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

“Today we concluded a thorough and deliberate process of selecting a candidate to be our next Chief Executive Officer, who will serve a growing, diverse and energetic community, while leading one of the region’s top economic engines,” said Carson Good, Chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “We look forward to our next CEO building on success, innovating to create new opportunities, attracting new air service and providing economic growth in which all our citizens can participate.”

Following Mr. Brown’s retirement announcement in April of 2021, the Aviation Authority hired aviation specialty recruitment firm Korn Ferry, which developed measurement criteria, marketed the position and vetted qualified candidates. From their national recruitment effort, Korn Ferry presented six recruited candidates to the Board.

Runner-up candidate Lance Lyttle, CEO of Seattle Tacoma International Airport speaks with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) during a special meeting to select a new CEO for the Orlando International Airport on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.
Photos by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

On January 7, 2022 the Board selected Thibault, Lance Lyttle, CEO of Seattle Tacoma International Airport; Jackie Yaft, CEO of Austin Bergstrom International Airport; and Mark Thorpe, CEO of Ontario International Airport as its final four.

Facebook: See Photo Gallery of GOAA’s Special Meeting 

Acting CEO Options Identified 

The Board also approved Chief of Operations (CO) Tom Draper and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Kathleen Sharman as options to serve as Acting CEO in the event of an absence of the CEO. Following the approval, Mr. Brown named Mr. Draper to fulfill CEO duties while the Chief Executive office is in transition. Mr. Draper will become Acting CEO on January 22, 2022 pending the arrival of the new CEO.

Mr. Draper began his 31-year career at GOAA as a firefighter and was promoted to Senior Director of Operations in 2017 prior to being named Chief of Operations. Ms. Sharman joined the Authority in 2015 as Director of Finance and was promoted to CFO the following year.

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