Veteran of 32 years at Port Authority becomes first woman to hold post
Susan M. Baer, who has spent 21 years in a myriad of aviation department roles, has been appointed director of aviation and is the first woman in Port Authority history to assume the job. Ms. Baer replaces William R. DeCota, who died unexpectedly earlier this month.
Ms. Baer takes over one of the world’s largest and busiest aviation systems, with oversight responsibilities for John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Stewart International and Teterboro airports. Last year alone, more than 107 million fliers used the Port Authority airports, which also handled roughly 2.4 million tons of cargo.
Ms. Baer, who has held the department’s No. 2 slot since last year, will continue the agency focus on modernizing facilities at all its airports, as she takes the helm of a department with a $1.3 billion operating budget and a $594 million capital budget in 2009. Additionally, she will focus on making NextGen satellite navigation technology a reality in the aviation industry, while also encouraging airspace improvements to help reduce flight delays and maintain safety in the New York/New Jersey region.
Joining the Port Authority as a management analyst in the late 1970s, Ms. Baer quickly rose through the agency’s ranks in the Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Department before joining the aviation department in 1988. Among her aviation achievements is being the only person in Port Authority history to manage the agency’s three major airports: JFK, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia.
From 1988 to 1994, Ms. Baer served as general manager of aviation customer and marketing services before managing LaGuardia until 1998. From then until 2007, she was at the helm of Newark Liberty with responsibilities that included oversight of Teterboro. In 2007, she became JFK’s general manager before being appointed the agency’s deputy director/chief operating officer in 2008.
‘I’m truly honored to lead a department with such a rich aviation history and a top-notch, hard-working staff,’’ said Ms. Baer.
‘We will continue our mission of providing world-class airports and service for our customers,’’ she said. ‘I look forward to working closely with our committed industry partners to deliver on all our goals.’
“Sue is the natural person to help this agency carry on Bill DeCota’s extraordinary aviation legacy,” said Anthony Coscia, the Port Authority’s chairman. ‘Her lengthy, hands-on experience at the region’s airports is unmatched, and I have no doubt she will continue the agency’s proud tradition of leadership on aviation issues, nationally and globally.”
‘The combination of Sue’s talent and experience will allow the Port Authority to continue its important mission of ensuring the safe and efficient movement of passengers and cargo within the New York/New Jersey region for the most important airport system in the world,’’ said Christopher O. Ward, the Port Authority’s executive director.
‘Sue Baer is a true leader - a trailblazer uniquely qualified to lead one of the world’s largest aviation systems,’’ said Susan Bass Levin, the Port Authority’s deputy executive director.
Ms. Baer earned her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in urban studies and anthropology and an MBA from New York University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three children.