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Board Members

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is governed by a nine-member Board, with three additional members serving ex officio. Board members serve 3-year terms and may be reappointed.

To contact or send information or materials to the Board, click here.

Board Member Bios (in alphabetical order)

David Alvarez | Appointed by Mayor, City of San Diego
Email - 619.400.2408

David Alvarez was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2010, and serves as Chair of the Natural Resources & Culture Committee, Vice Chair of the Land Use & Housing Committee and as a member of the Budget & Finance and Rules & Economic Development Committees. In addition to serving on the Airport Authority Board, he serves on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board, SANDAG Borders Committee, Otay Valley Regional Park Policy Committee, Bayshore Bikeway Working Group and the San Diego Consortium Policy Board. He most recently joined the Board of Directors for Local Progress: a national municipal policy network.

A San Diego native, Mr. Alvarez was the first in his family to graduate from high school and college, graduating with honors from San Diego State University. He resides in Logan Heights with his wife Xochitl, and their daughter Izel. Mr. Alvarez was appointed to the Board by the Mayor of San Diego for a term ending on January 31, 2016.


Laurie Berman, Ex-Officio Member | District 11 Director CEA, Caltrans
Laurie Berman was appointed in November 2009 as the District Director for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 11, encompassing San Diego and Imperial counties. She has more than two dozen years of experience with Caltrans and is responsible for the daily operation of 1,300 employees and more than 1,000 highway lane miles. Ms. Berman oversees $1.3 billion worth of highway construction projects and programs throughout the two-county area. Prior to her appointment to District Director, Ms. Berman served as the district’s Chief Deputy Director of Project Delivery.

Ms. Berman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at Michigan State University in 1983 and began her career with Caltrans as a Junior Civil Engineer in bridge construction in Santa Barbara. Later, she worked at Caltrans Headquarters in Sacramento, and transferred to District 11 in 1994 to manage the seismic retrofit of the district’s bridges. Ms. Berman is a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Project Delivery Methods Committee and also serves as an Ex Officio Member on the San Diego Association of Governments.



Greg Cox | Appointed by San Diego County Board of Supervisors
Email - 619.400.2408

Greg Cox joined the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 1995. He began his public service career as an educator in the Sweetwater Union High School District. He was elected to the Chula Vista City Council and later served two terms as Mayor of Chula Vista. The Governor of California appointed him Director of Local Government for the Office of Planning and Research from 1991 – 92. Mr. Cox also built successful businesses in the private sector.

Mr. Cox is the only elected official in California to have been elected by his peers to serve as both the President of the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. Mr. Cox has also been acknowledged as “Legislator of the Year” by a number of state and local organizations throughout his career, and was recently appointed by California Assembly Speaker to the California Coastal Commission. The Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors appointed Supervisor Cox to the Board for a term ending on January 31, 2016.


Jim Desmond | Appointed by North Inland area mayors
Email - 619.400.2408

A fifteen year resident of San Marcos, Mr. Desmond was elected mayor of San Marcos in November 2006. Active in his community, he served as a San Marcos City Council member, Planning Commissioner, Chamber of Commerce Board member, and as President of the San Marcos Economic Development Corp. He is currently on the Board of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

Mr. Desmond is a Federal Aviation Association (FAA) Certified Flight Instructor and a Pilot/Captain for Delta Airlines based in Los Angeles International Airport. He has flown Boeing 757s and 767s for 20 years. He is a U.S. Navy veteran with two letters of commendation and an honorable discharge. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from San Diego State University. The mayors of the north inland San Diego County cities appointed Mayor Desmond to the Board for a term ending on January 31, 2015.


Colonel John Farnam, Ex-Officio Member | U.S. Marine Corps

Colonel Farnam received his bachelor's degree from San Diego State University, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1990, and designated a Naval Flight Officer in April 1993. After Fleet Replacement Squadron training for the F/A - 18D Hornet, Colonel Farnam reported to Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA (AW) - 533 at MCAS Beaufort, SC. He flew with the Hawks in 1994-1998, 2001-2004, and commanded the squadron in 2007-2009. From 1998-2001, Colonel Farnam was an instructor at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) in Yuma, AZ and was selected as the Marine Corps Naval Flight Officer of the Year in 1998. He headed the F/A-18, Litening Targeting Pod, Aviation Training Systems and Aviation Flight Equipment programs at Headquarters Marine Corps, Pentagon, from 2004-2007 before attending the National War College in Washington, D.C. in 2010, and upon graduation was assigned to the Joint Staff as the Branch Chief for Global Posture, strategy and Plans, J8, Pentagon.

Colonel Farnam took command of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in July 2012.


Robert H. Gleason, Board Chair, Executive Committee Member | Appointed by Mayor, City of San Diego
Email - 619.400.2408

Robert Gleason is chief financial officer and general counsel for Evans Hotels, which owns and operates The Lodge at Torrey Pines, the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa and the Bahia Resort Hotel, where he has been employed for over 20 years. In addition, he is a former adjunct faculty member in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University.

Mr. Gleason is a long-time San Diegan who has played a leadership role with many community agencies and organizations, primarily in the areas of the arts, electoral politics and civil rights. He is Vice Chair of the City of San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture and past Vice Chair of the Old Globe Theater; past Chair of the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center and the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council; and a Trustee of Francis Parker School.

He received an A.B. in Economics from Princeton University and a Juris Doctor (summa cum laude) from the University of San Diego School of Law. City of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders appointed Mr. Gleason to the Board for a term ending on January 31, 2014.


Lloyd B. Hubbs | Appointed by North Coastal area mayors
Email - 619.400.2408

Beginning his career with Caltrans more than 40 years ago, Lloyd Hubbs brings an extensive planning background to the Airport Authority Board. As the Director of Public Works for the City of Carlsbad for 19 years, Mr. Hubbs worked on many transportation projects in close coordination with Caltrans, North County Transit District and SANDAG. During this time he also participated on many boards and commissions, including serving as Chairman of Encina Waste Water Joint Powers Agency Technical Advisory Committee. He most recently served as the Commissioner of Public Works for the town of Greenwich, CT.

Mr. Hubbs received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from California State Polytechnic University – Pomona. He is a member of the American Public Works Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the League of California Cities – Public Works Institute. The mayors of the north coastal cities appointed Mr. Hubbs to a term ending on January 31, 2017.


Eraina Ortega, Ex-Officio Member | Chief Deputy Director, Policy at the California Department of Finance

Eraina Ortega serves as Chief Deputy Director, Policy at the California Department of Finance. In this capacity, Ms. Ortega represents the Department of Finance on more than 100 boards and commissions. From 2008 to 2013, Ms. Ortega worked at the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) as a Senior Legislative Representative in the area of labor and employee relations. Prior to joining CSAC, she served for six years as a legislative advocate for the Judicial Council of California in a number of areas, including the state budget, court facilities, and employee relations. Previously, she was a fiscal and policy analyst for the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

Ms. Ortega earned a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine.


Paul Robinson, Vice Chair, Executive Committee Member | Appointed by Governor, State of California
Email - 619.400.2408

Since 1982, Mr. Robinson has served as partner for the San Diego law firm of Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg and Bagley, where he was also an associate from 1980 to 1982. Previously, Robinson was assistant to San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson from 1978 to 1980 and was deputy city attorney for San Diego from 1973 to 1978. He is a member of the Real Property and Public Law Sections of the California State Bar and of the Real Estate and Land Use Sections of the San Diego County Bar Association.

Mr. Robinson is a member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Partners for Livable Places/San Diego, the Mission Bay Park Committee (Chair) and the City of San Diego’s Parking Advisory Board. He is active in the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Downtown Partnership. The Governor of California appointed Mr. Robinson to the Airport Authority Board for a term ending June 2011. He was reappointed by the Chair of the San Diego Board of Supervisors. His term expires on January 31, 2017.


Mary Sessom | Appointed by East County area mayors
Email - 619.400.2408

A 26-year resident of Lemon Grove, Mary Sessom was elected Mayor of Lemon Grove in 1996, and still serves in that capacity. Not only is she the City’s first directly elected mayor, but also its first female mayor. Prior to her election to the Lemon Grove City Council in 1994, she was active in her community, serving as PTA president and vice president of the Lemon Grove Education Foundation.

During her 20 years as a practicing attorney, Ms. Sessom served as a Judge Pro Tem of the Superior Court (1990–91), Past President of the Foothills Bar Association (1995) and Trustee to the Board of Trustees for the San Diego County Law Library (1995–96). She served as a Board member of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (2003–2006; 2013–) and as a member of the Salvation Army Ad Hoc Committee for the Kroc Community Center.

When not working at City Hall, Ms. Sessom is coordinator for the Business and Professional Studies Department at Cuyamaca Community College. She also serves as a director on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Executive Board and is one of the organization’s past chairs. Currently, she serves as that agency’s chair for the Regional Planning Committee. The mayors of the east county cities appointed Mayor Sessom to the Board for a term ending on January 31, 2016.


Tom Smisek, Executive Committee Member | Appointed by South County area mayors
Email - 619.400.2408

A long time resident of Coronado, Mr. Smisek was first elected to the Coronado City Council in 1992. He was elected Mayor in November, 1996 and re-elected in November 2000 and 2004. Active in his community, he served as City Councilmember and Planning Commissioner for the City of Coronado for eight years before becoming Mayor. He also served as a Board member on the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Board and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Board.

After graduating from Coronado High School, he received a B.S. Aeronautical Engineering degree from the U.S. Naval Academy, and a M.S. Management Science degree from U.S. International University. He served in the U.S. Navy and Navy reserve for 26 years and flew the F-8 Crusader in Vietnam, was a TOPGUN graduate, and then flew the A-4 as an adversary instructor. Mr. Smisek had three commands in the Naval Reserve and retired as a Captain. Other aviation experience included 10 years with Tracor Flight Systems as a tactical analyst and Program Manager at Nellis AFB, NAS Miramar, and Mojave Airport. He completed 25 years of flying with Western Airlines and Delta Airlines as a Captain. He was a member of the joint Port Authority/SANDAG Committee that started the new Master Plan for San Diego International Airport in 1997. The mayors of the south San Diego County cities appointed Mr. Smisek to the Board for a term ending on January 31, 2015.


 

Thella F. Bowens, President/CEO

In March 2003, Thella F. Bowens was appointed President/CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the owner and operator of San Diego International Airport as of January 1, 2003. As President/CEO, Ms. Bowens is responsible for management oversight of the Authority, including the Authority's $236.4 million operating budget and $1.7 billion five-year capital budget. According to the most recent economic impact study, San Diego International Airport generates more than $9 billion annually in economic impact for the region.

Prior to 2003, when the San Diego Unified Port District operated the airport, Ms. Bowens was the Port’s Senior Director of Aviation for seven years. From September 2001 through December 2002, simultaneous with her position at the Port, she served as Interim Executive Director/President of the new San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, as required by the state legislation that created the Authority. In that capacity, she performed the monumental task of planning and implementing the transfer of the airport to its role as an independent entity.

Prior to coming to San Diego, Ms. Bowens served as the Deputy Executive Director of Kansas City’s Aviation Department, which included Kansas City International Airport and the city’s two general aviation airports. She previously served as Budget Administrator for the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport in Texas. She has acquired 30-plus years of experience in public administration, with the last 25 years in the aviation field.

Ms. Bowens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College of Columbia University and has done graduate work at the University of North Texas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Institute sponsored by the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.

Ms. Bowens is President of the California Airports Council Board of Directors, a member of the World Governing Board of Airports Council International, and a board member of the American Association of Airport Executives Policy Review Committee. In 2010 she served as a member of the Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, and in 2012 she was the Chair of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA).

Locally, she is a member of boards of the San Diego World Trade Center, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Kyoto Symposium Organization.

Ms. Bowens has previously served on the boards of the San Diego United Way, the San Diego Symphony and the National Conflict Resolution Center.

Copyright 2014 San Diego County Regional Airport Authority