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,
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
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,
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
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.
Bruce R. Boland | Appointed by Mayor, City of San Diego
Email - 619.400.2408
Bruce Boland is a retired Rear Admiral U.S. Navy with a Naval Service career of
more than 30 years. He was a Naval Aviator involved in Fighter Carrier Aviation
and commanded Fighter Squadron 24 at Naval Air Station Miramar flying F8 Crusaders.
His Navy career culminated with his appointment in 1985 as the Navy's regional commander
in San Diego. In 1987 he was appointed Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and later
the Director of Public Works for the County of San Diego. One of his responsibilities
at the County included oversight of the eight County owned airports. He was appointed
in 1993 as President/CEO of the United Way of San Diego County and served until
Mr. Boland has a Bachelor's Degree in Government from the Naval Postgraduate School,
a Master's Degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California
and is a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He continues his
interest in aviation by flying his privately owned aircraft. City of San Diego Mayor
Jerry Sanders appointed Mr. Boland to the Board for a term ending on January 31, 2015.
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
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,
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
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
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, the Authority’s $213
million annual operating budget, a $1.55 billion capital budget and
approximately 375 employees.
Prior to 2003, when the Port of San Diego 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 Authority. In that capacity, she
performed the historic task of transferring the airport to its role as an
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 27 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
University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also a graduate of the Executive
Leadership Institute sponsored by the National Forum for Black Public
In addition to her professional associations, Ms. Bowens is a member of the
World Governing Board of Airports Council International and the American
Association of Airport Executives Policy Review Committee. Locally, she is a
member of the boards of the San Diego World Trade Center, the San Diego Regional
Economic Development Corporation, the San Diego Tourism Authority and the San
Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Bowens has previously served on the
boards of the San Diego United Way, the San Diego Symphony and the National
Conflict Resolution Center. In 2010 she served as a member of the Department of
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, and
in 2012 was the Chair of Airports Council International – North America