Connections – January 18, 2016


Dear Friends and Colleagues:

A crucial mission for AMAC is to represent the interests of its members on Capitol Hill and with our federal partners -- FAA, USDOT, MBDA, SBA and TSA.  We are “Your Voice for Better Business.”

In unity there is strength. Therefore, it is imperative that AMAC members participate in the advocacy process directly and indirectly. Here’s how to get involved:

AMAC focus for the Leadership Summit 2016 includes the following issues:

  • AMAC¹s Car Rental Pilot Program
  • DBE/ACDBE size standards
  • DBE Certification Appeals Backlog and Agency Transparency

Our timing is key.  Congress will be considering the FAA Reauthorization Bill in the next few weeks.

The House Transportation Committee will be marking up the bill on Feb. 11, according to committee staff.  It is unclear exactly what the bill will contain, but Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster has been pressing forward with his vision of a bill that would spin control of air traffic control functions away from the FAA and into the hands of another entity.

AMAC lobbyists will be sitting down with committee staff next week and we anticipate having a better understanding of the Committee¹s actual timing and a read-out on our priorities.  Lawmakers will be working against the clock to get a bill moving before March 31 when the current authorization expires.  With time winding down on the current short-term authorization, it is highly likely another short-term extension will be needed.

The bottom line is that your energy and engagement ultimately contribute to better opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses. Please join us to help press our case on priority issues at the Leadership Summit on March 23rd!

Shelby Scales


AMAC Endorses The Hudson Group’s Proclamation Declaring Feb. 24

“Leon Watkins Day” in Honor of One of its Founding Members

Leon Watkins
Pictured L to R Courtney Thornton Vice President of Partner Relations & Business Diversity; Leon Watkins; Mike Mullaney, Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy & Development and Mike Blakely, Vice President of Development

If you want to know the attributes needed to become a trailblazer and history maker, talk to Leon Watkin’s colleagues at airport retail powerhouse the Hudson Group.

A key member of AMAC’s founding team more than 30 years ago; Watkins was recently honored on his retirement from Hudson for his work in promoting diversity, inclusion, and transparency of business in the nation’s airports throughout his career.  Watkins received an official proclamation from Hudson declaring February 24, 2016 as “Leon C. Watkins Appreciation Day” (View the official proclamation here.)

“Leon’s wisdom, persistence and his warm, approachable demeanor was the perfect equation to build  relationships needed to create opportunities for women and minorities through AMAC,” says Joseph DiDomizio, President & CEO, Hudson Group.  “As Assistant Administrator for Civil Rights in the Federal Aviation Administration in the 1980s, he understood the industry and what it would take to open doors.”

Watkins continued to build relationships   with MBEs, WBEs and ACDBEs throughout his 20 years working for Hudson, Robin McCullum Diaz, Hudson’s Vice President, Compliance, notes.  “He knew that it would take years of consistent work to achieve the type of parity needed in the industry,” she adds.  “He was persistent and persuasive, year after year.”

“Leon is a good listener and a sincere, good-natured individual who could bring people together to brainstorm solutions to every obstacle in the way of diversity,” she says.  “As well, he is highly regarded and well known in the airport community.”

Courtney Thornton, Vice President of Partner Relations and Business Diversity agrees.  “He is very intelligent,” she added, “but it takes more than intelligence to be a trailblazer like Leon.  You have to have passion and commitment as well.  These are the unique characteristics he exhibited.”

“We are delighted that the Hudson Group has honored one of our founders in this way,” says AMAC CEO and President Shelby Scales.  “Hudson continues to solidify the strong and stable working relationship we have had for many years.”

"Leon Watkins’ blue print still impacts AMAC and the industry today," she continued. "His work at FAA, Hudson and many years of mentoring emerging colleagues such as myself, are stellar examples of commitment to the mission. Whenever I have called on Mr. Watkins he has always given sound counsel and a history lesson."

The Proclamation was presented by Joseph DiDomizio at Hudson’s 13th Annual Management Seminar and Vendor Show themed "Inspired to Succeed" at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.  “Leon was extremely emotional,” Diaz and Thornton recall.  “His first words were ‘I am greatly humbled and appreciative’.”

Today, Hudson partners with a plethora of women and minority businesses in airports across the country, Thornton notes. True believers in the philosophy of inclusion and commitment to being “The Traveler’s Best Friend,” these partners are a vital and highly respected part of the business. Last year Hudson’s ACDBE partnerships contributed roughly one-quarter of the company’s overall sales, as well as a keen understanding of local markets.

AMAC’s Janus Holder and his family turned a gift store in Elizabeth into a multimillion-dollar business in Newark Airport

Janus HolderBy Meg Fry, December 21, 2015

'Tis the season for frequent travel and last-minute gift buying — two of Janus Holder's favorite things.

As owner and CEO of EJE Travel Retail, a Springfield-based duty-free and specialty retail operator with six locations in Newark Liberty International Airport, Holder is used to being busy during the holidays.

That feeling might soon come to be expected year-round.

As Newark Airport continues with multimillion-dollar renovations, the state continues to attract international airlines and more money for the $7 billion duty-free industry.

Despite deep family ties, it’s one that Holder hadn’t always expected to play a part in.

Read more here 


from the dot

Happy New Year! While we look forward to all that 2016 will bring, here is a quick glance back at the DBE highlights of 2015.

Regulation Changes
DBE Appeals Backlog
Significant DBE Appeal Decisions
Updated Modules & New Presentations

foundation focus

Post Your Internship Opportunities on Our Website Now!

The AMAC Foundation Internship Program helps to connect professionals and students in the aviation and airport industries.

The Program offers summer internships to current university students lasting up to 16 weeks. These internships are an opportunity to get hands-on experience with an AMAC corporate member, such as an airport professional or concessionaire, or other public and private organizations associated with the industry. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and are typically completed as part of college coursework.

If you represent a business or organization that would like to post an internship opportunity on our website, please contact Molly King at  AMAC member organizations can also contact Anthony Barnes at

aviation news

Pure Michigan Welcomes International Travelers to Detroit

Detroit Airport

LANSING – If a photo is worth a thousand words, a newly installed Pure Michigan photo experience at the International Arrivals Hall of McNamara Terminal and in the North Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) will speak volumes to the nearly 1.5 million international travelers that pass through the airport’s federal inspection services facilities each year.

The campaign is one of the first of its kind in the United States and is the result of a collaboration between Travel Michigan, the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the Airlines and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It has been launched to coincide with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which kicked off January 11. International visitors, including media from approximately 60 countries, attending at this year’s show will be some of the first travelers to be greeted by the Michigan imagery.

“Detroit truly serves as the gateway to Michigan for the vast majority of our international visitors,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “From the moment people step off that plane, we want them to feel welcome in Michigan, to be excited about arriving in America’s Great Comeback City and to be inspired by the leisure travel opportunities our state has to offer.”

Read more here 

Pilot Shortage a Blow to Regional Airports

By Robert Silk  / January 12, 2016

Prior to June 2014, residents of Klamath Falls in south-central Oregon had access to one flight daily to San Francisco and Portland from the Crater Lake Klamath Regional Airport.

But in that month, United Express, in conjunction with flight operator SkyWest, ended the flights, leaving the seat of Klamath County, population 65,000, without commercial air service.

The reason SkyWest said it was making the move, according to airport director John Barsalou, was because the regional carrier was in the midst of phasing out its 30-seat, twin-engine Embraer 120 Brasilia fleet, a process the carrier completed last year. But Klamath Falls couldn’t generate enough demand to support the 50-seat planes that were to remain in SkyWest’s fleet.

Barsalou said the Klamath Falls community also believed another factor was at play: Service on the San Francisco flight had become less reliable due to a pilot shortage that is impacting regional airlines throughout the U.S.

Read more here 

Charlotte Douglas Airport Selected by FAA and NASA

For Traffic Management Systems Update Effort

Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the second busiest hub for American Airlines, has been designated as the site for a unique effort by NASA to update the country’s antiquated air traffic management system.

NASA’s effort, called ATD2 for airspace technology demonstration two, would bring better flight management software to the Federal Aviation Administration’s ongoing Next Generation technology implementation.

For now, ATD2 is unique to Charlotte: if it is successful, it could be introduced nationwide.

Read more here 

amac news

AMAC’s Rhonda Arnold Named

HAS Chief Municipal and Community Affairs Officer

Rhonda Arnold, Houston Airport System (HAS) Community and Business Relations Director, been named the HAS Chief Municipal and Community Affairs Officer (CMCAO).  Arnold is AMAC’s Southwest Regional Director for Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

In her new role as CMCAO for HAS, Arnold will be under the supervision of the Director of Aviation.  She will serve as the primary Council Liaison Officer, the department’s key link to the City Council.

Additionally, she will work with the community and support the planning and economic development of HAS working closely with the City Council, citizen advisory groups and stakeholders and other city departments.

Darren L. JamesAMAC’s Darren James Named Chairman

of Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce

Darren L. James, President and COO of KAI Texas, AIA, was recently elected Chairman of th e Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. James was honored for his advocacy and support of minority business endeavors at the chamber's 89th Annual Awards Dinner held on Oct. 23, 2015, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

"I am excited and humbled to be elected as Dallas' Black Chamber of Commerce Board Chair. For our 90th year, we'll continue to promote meaningful and significant participation of our members in the region's economic drivers, and invest in their growth through peer relationships, seminars and general business support," says James.

Founded in 1926, the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce serves as an advocate for the creation and growth of African American businesses in the Dallas community. The chamber actively promotes the expansion of business opportunities on behalf of its membership through referrals, partnerships, seminars, technical assistance and marketing. James has served on the Dallas Black Chamber Board since 2007.

James has long been an active advocate of minority businesses in the Dallas area. He was named a 2014 Minority Business Leader by the Dallas Business Journal.

Most recently, the Regional Black Contractors Association recognized James for his leadership, naming him the 1st Annual Herman Jerome Russell Award recipient. The announcement came as part of the association's Annual Year End Celebration held on Oct. 16, 2015.

James was also recognized by the Asian American Contractors Association of Texas (AACATX) as a recipient of the Star Award as part of their 5th Annual Constellation Awards ceremony held on Oct. 15, 2015. The Star Award is presented annually to the corporate or agency individual who did the most outstanding job in helping AACATX members.

James joined KAI Texas in 2005 to lead as principal and partner of the firm. KAI Texas is an award-winning architecture, engineering and design-build firm headquartered in Dallas, with an additional office in San Antonio. He is passionate about enhancing the fabric of community and augmenting the ways in which architects influence these environments. KAI Texas engages in TEACH (Transit, Education, Aviation, Commercial, Housing & Health Care) opportunities for clients throughout Texas and the United States.



The AMAC Job Board is a nationwide listing of active and upcoming job openings at governments and contractors across the country. If you represent a public or private organization that would like to post an open position, please contact us at

For job postings click here.



The AMAC Bid Board is a nationwide listing of active and upcoming bid opportunities at governments across the country. If you represent a government organization that would like to post opportunities, please contact us at

For bid opportunities click here.