Kelowna International’s Samaddar becomes chair of Airports Council

January 4, 2022

News Release

Kelowna International Airport Director Sam Samaddar became Chair of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) on Jan. 1. Samaddar was elected to the position in November 2021 and succeeds outgoing Chair Lew S. Bleiweis, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority.  

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, North American airports have continued to provide essential services to passengers, workers, and local communities while also ensuring their health and safety, and Lew has been at the forefront of guiding our industry during these challenge times,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “As we continue to respond to a rapidly evolving future for our industry, I have no doubt that Sam’s experience and leadership will help ACI-NA and all of our airports navigate the unique challenges we’ve encountered in recent years and keep our industry moving forward.” 

“Our industry’s recovery is underway, but a clear path forward remains elusive as we continue to navigate the challenges presented by an ongoing pandemic,” said Samaddar. “But, our industry is proactive and resilient, so I am confident our brightest days are ahead.  I look forward to representing this innovative industry and working alongside my colleagues to advance key priorities over the next two years.” 

Samaddar began his airport career at the Vancouver International Airport in 1988 and began working for the Kelowna International Airport as superintendent of airport operations in 1992. In 2008, he was appointed Airport Director of the Kelowna International Airport. He is also a board member at Tourism Kelowna and Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission. 

“We are very proud to have Sam in this position as the first ever Tier 2 airport and only the second Canadian to be named Chair of ACI-NA. This is a huge accomplishment that showcases the leadership of YLW throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing industry recovery,” said Doug Gilchrist, Kelowna City Manager. ”Sam’s appointment will also help to highlight, not only the entire Okanagan region, but how YLW is an economic, business and tourism gateway to Western Canada and the USA.”   

Additionally, Chellie Cameron, CEO of the Philadelphia International Airport, moved into the Vice Chair role and Lew Bleiweis, Executive Director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority will become the organization’s Immediate Past Chair. In addition to welcoming Samaddar, ACI-NA announced the election of several new Board members and Policy Council leadership.    

ACI-NA Board of Directors 
Bryant Francis, Director of Aviation for the Oakland International Airport; Cindy Nichol, Director of Airports for the Sacramento County Airport System; Jason Terreri, Executive Director for the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority; Patrick Wilson, President of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority; and Monica Newhouse-Rodriguez, MBA, Managing Principal at Newhouse and Associates, LLC, were all elected to the ACI-NA Board of Directors.    

Canadian Policy Council 
RJ Steenstra, President and CEO of Fort McMurray Airport Authority, will become Chair of the Canadian Policy Council and a member of the organization’s Executive Committee.  Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, will become the Vice Chair. Philippe Rainville, President and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal, will become Chair of the Large Airports Caucus.  Gene Cabral, Executive Vice-President of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, will become the Chair of the Small Airports Caucus.  Reg Wright, President and CEO of the Gander International Airport Authority, will join the Canadian Policy Council.    

U.S. Policy Council 
Kevin Dolliole, Director of Aviation at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, will become Chair of the U.S. Policy Council and a member of the organization’s Executive Committee.  Bryant Francis, Director of Aviation at Oakland International Airport; Cindy Nichol, Director of Airports for the Sacramento County Airport System; Kim Jones, Airport Director at the Dane County Regional Airport; Huntley Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Aviation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Jesus Saenz, Jr., Director of Airports for the San Antonio Airport System; Ben Siegel, Executive Director for the Lee County Port Authority; Tom Jewsbury, Executive Director of the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport; and Monica Newhouse-Rodriguez, Managing Principal at Newhouse and Associates, LLC, join the U.S. Policy Council.  

World Business Partners and Associates Board of Directors 
Brian Reed, Director, Strategic Initiatives for Burns & McDonnell, was elected Chair of ACI-NA’s World Business Partners and Associates Board of Directors and Michael Hotaling, Senior Vice President Aviation Practice Leader for C&S Companies, was elected Vice Chair.  Solomon Wong, President and CEO of InterVISTAS Consulting Inc.; Lysa (Scully) Leiponis, Principal and President of LL Aviation Advisors, LLC; and Pamela Brown, Vice President Business Development for Paradies Lagardère, were elected to the World Business Partners and Associates Board of Directors. 

A complete list of the ACI-NA Board of Directors and leadership is available on the ACI-NA website