2022 Fall Conference Speakers and Moderators

Opening Session

Nivardo Lopez, Deputy Secretary for Transportation - Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

In November 2021, Nivardo Lopez was appointed Deputy Secretary for Transportation for the New York State Executive Chamber.  In this role, Nivardo serves as a senior advisor to Governor Kathy Hochul on all statewide transportation and infrastructure issues, and coordinates decision-making on policy, budget, and operations.  Previously, Nivardo served as Bronx Borough Commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT).  In that role, he advised the Commissioner on all policy issues affecting transportation in the Bronx and worked with the various divisions within the agency to ensure effective service delivery in the Bronx.  In 2014, Nivardo joined NYCDOT as the Director of Legislative Affairs, responsible for developing the agency's legislative agenda.  Prior to working for NYCDOT, he worked for Comptroller Scott Stringer as Director of City Legislative Affairs and for the Bloomberg Administration as the Bronx Director for the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit.  Nivardo began his career in government working at the New York City Council. Mr. Lopez is a longtime resident and native of the Bronx. He holds a B.A. in History from Saint Joseph's University and a M.A. in History from The City College of New York (CUNY).

Janet Ho, Assistant Commissioner for Finance & Integrated Modal Services - NYS DOT

Janet Ho was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Finance & Integrated Modal Services in July 2022. In this capacity, she serves as the senior executive overseeing Finance (Transportation Budgeting and Accounting) and Integrated Modal Services (Freight & Passenger Rail, Aviation, Local Programs and the Public Transportation Bureau).

Janet came to NYSDOT from the Department of Motor Vehicles, where, since January of 2017, she had served as Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Safety, & Driver Licensing. In this role, she oversaw operational units at DMV that were responsible for ensuring compliance with federal motor carrier policy, commercial driver licensing, bus safety, driver training, and the licensing of automobile dealers, repair shops and inspection stations. She also managed the programs at DMV that help keep public roads safe by properly sanctioning drivers pursuant to state and federal law, as well as the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee which spearheads safe driving campaigns and administers the federal traffic safety grants on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Prior to that, Janet was DMV’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Planning, where she oversaw the unit that handles DMV’s legislative tracking, governmental relations and constituent affairs, and helped to implement key projects at the Department such as helping to ensure New York’s compliance with Federal Real ID requirements.

Prior to her time at DMV, Janet worked in the Governor’s office as the assistant secretary for transportation, where she helped craft statewide transportation policy recommendations impacting agencies including the Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Thruway Authority and the DMV. She has a strong background in budget policy and development stemming from her work at the New York State Senate Finance Committee as a Deputy Director of Budget Studies, concentrating primarily in the areas of transportation, environment, economic development, energy; and as a Senior Legislative Budget Analyst for the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee. She holds an MPA from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a B.A. in Psychology, as well as a B.A. in Criminology, Law and Society, from the University of California, Irvine.

State of the State

Brian D. Bushnell - AFSD/S - UNY

NYS Department of Transportation

  • More information coming soon.

General Session 1: Diversifying our Workforce

Hashem M. Obeidallah, PE, MBA, Project Manager - Aviation - McFarland Johnson

Hashem Obeidallah is an Aviation Project Manager at McFarland Johnson with over 14 years of experience, he is responsible for leading design and construction administration efforts on aviation projects ranging from small taxiway rehabilitation projects to large runway reconstruction projects at Commercial and General Aviation airports throughout New York and Pennsylvania.

Hashem is an active member of the Northeast Chapter of American Association of Airport Executives Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering technology and earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Hashem resides in Binghamton, NY with his wife, 7-year-old son, and 5-year-old daughter.

Aileen Maguire Meyer, VP - C&S Companies

Aileen Maguire Meyer has 30 years of professional experience as an engineer and planner. As a Vice President with C&S Companies, she provides project leadership and program management to deliver architecture, engineering and planning services on strategic projects.

Aileen has a passion for team building and career development. She serves as a mentor for C&S’ young professionals, co-chair of C&S’ Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Awareness (IDEA) Alliance and is a member of American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee.

Aileen founded C&S’ Rochester office and supported its development to include a full service team of architects, engineers, and planners. She also contributes to corporate leadership as a member of the Board of Directors for C&S Worldwide Holdings.

Aileen is actively engaged in industry organizations including serving as a Board of Director for ACECNY Rochester Region and an At-large Board Member of the American Planning Association NY Upstate Chapter GFL Section.

Aileen earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Masters in City Planning from Boston University. She is a licensed professional engineer and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Carrem Gay, C.M., ACE, Manager, Business Planning and Policy, Aviation Department - Port Authority of NY & NJ

Carrem works at the Port Authority of NY & NJ as the Manager, Business Planning and Policy for the Aviation Department.  In this role, she is responsible for the administration of the Aviation Department By-Law and Board Authorization Process, supporting departmental strategic initiatives, and supporting the Aviation Director’s Office in day-to-day activities.

Carrem joined the Port Authority as a Leadership Fellow in 2017 and also held the position of Senior Property Representative with Property and Commercial Development at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).  As a Property Representative she was responsible for coordinating all aspects of airport tenant negotiations and development, in addition to the ongoing management and administration of the resulting agreements.

Carrem is also a Certified Member (C.M.) of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and has an ACE certification in Security.  She holds a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, where she also played basketball. 

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Keynote Session

John Heimlich, VP and Chief Economist - Airlines for America

John Heimlich joined Airlines for America (A4A) in April 2001 and currently serves as Vice President and Chief Economist. He is responsible for matters pertaining to economics and energy and frequently engages with members of the media. Prior to A4A, Heimlich spent five years at United Airlines in financial planning, financial analysis and international and regulatory affairs. In the latter role, he worked on competition matters, mergers, route cases and antitrust immunity for alliances. A native of Kent, Ohio, Heimlich holds a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Cornell University and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.


General Session 2: Aviation Legal Issues: Impacting Airports

TJ Roskelley, Aviation Attorney

Timothy J. (“TJ”) Roskelley, Partner, has represented airport owners and operators since he began practicing law in 2005.   TJ’s primary expertise is airline use and lease agreements.  For the last decade, TJ has advised small, medium and large hub airports across the country on these critical documents and related issues, including airline rates and charges, rates by ordinance, DOT “rocket docket” litigation and federally required competition plan updates.  TJ also advises airport owners and operators on a broad array of federal compliance issues, including airport revenue diversion and AIP grant assurance compliance and has also led numerous airport responses to compliance audits by the FAA and the Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security Offices of Inspector General.  TJ has represented airports in both Part 16 and Part 13 compliance proceedings.  TJ received his undergraduate and law degrees from Boston University.  

General Session 3: Southwest Airlines NYS Updates

Rhett Morgan, Senior Network Planner - Southwest Business

Rhett has over 17 years of airline industry experience. Rhett most recently returned to Southwest Airlines and serves as a Sr Advisor in Network Planning. His current focus in on strategic planning as well as partnering and integrating with Southwest Business. Prior to returning to Southwest, Rhett was a Senior Director at Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting for seven years. Rhett served his clients thru air service development and retention efforts. As a result, Rhett helped communities small to large achieve their air service goals: including first ever international service, recruiting new airlines, and attaining record airport growth stats on multiple occasions. Rhett began his career at Delta Air Lines in 2005 and worked at Southwest Airlines from 2010 to 2016. He held various commercial leadership roles focusing on Network Strategy, Capacity Planning, and Integrated Commercial Planning. He has been a noted speaker at various industry conferences and forums over the years.

Rhett holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Management from Kansas State University and an MBA in Aviation Management from Embry Riddle University. He resides in Dallas, TX with his wife and two children.

General Session 4: General Aviation Issues (100LL)

Moderator: Curt Castagna, C.M., Managing Partner - Aeroplex Group Partners, LLC

Curt Castagna has a diverse background in general aviation and more than 40 years of proven expertise in all aspects of airport development, aviation consulting, and management services.  

 He is the President and CEO of the Aerolease and Aeroplex business entities, which includes general aviation and business aircraft centers, located at the Long Beach, Van Nuys, and Dallas Love Airports. Curt’s firm also oversees the majority of the management of the City of Santa Monica’s aviation real estate, leasing and self serve fueling operations. Castagna is the immediate past Board Chair of the board of directors for the National Air Transportation Association, is the current Chairman of the Los Angeles County Aviation Commission and he is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives. 

Besides overseeing the complete development, construction, management, leasing, sales, and service and promotion of complex and diverse aviation projects, Castagna has a long history of taking leadership roles in airport tenant and aviation trade associations. He is recognized by his peers and colleagues for establishing collaborative partnerships when negotiating through complex general aviation challenges, while maintaining a focus on compromise and consensus building. 

Devoted to mentoring future aviation professionals, he has over 30 years of experience as an adjunct professor, teaching various classes in the Aviation Administration Bachelor of Science program at California State University, Los Angeles and the Associate Degree program at Cypress Community College.     

Moderator: Chris D'Acosta, CEO - Swift Fuels, LLC

In 2012, Mr. D’Acosta was appointed CEO of Swift Fuels - a privately held research and development company located in the Purdue Research Park. Under his leadership, Swift has become a global leader in the development of next generation fuels and process technologies. The company has developed proprietary processes for producing premium gasoline blendstocks and diesel fuels from light gases. The company is also a leader in testing and commercialization of new high-octane piston-engine gasolines marketed on a global scale.  In addition to his work at Swift, D’Acosta serves as an industry advisor for a chemicals research consortium called CISTAR, and he serves on the Industrial Advisory Board for the Purdue University Chemical Engineering Department.  He is co-inventor on 7 US patents. 

General Session 5: UAS / Drones Around Airports

Dale Williams, Airport Inspector - FAA

Dale Williams has been involved in aviation for just over 40 years. He spent 10 years active duty in the US Army as an AH-1 Cobra pilot then transitioned to civilian flying as a Pilot Reporter in a news helicopter for Fox in Tampa, Fl. and ABC in Cincinnati, Oh. for 7 years. He then started flying HEMS (helicopter emergency medical service) in Dayton, Ohio for 8 years, also serving as regional Director of Safety, then moved to Tennessee to fly for the University of Tennessee’s Life Star and finished his flying career in Kentucky, flying for Air Methods. Dale holds a BS in Technical Management and Project Management through Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He has been with the FAA for 9 years and the Office of Airports for six years as an airport inspector.

 Moderator: Guido Hassig, National UAS Outreach Manager - FAA Flight Standards

Guido Hassig serves as the National UAS Outreach Manager for the FAA’s Flight Standards Service in Washington, DC. Flight Standards is responsible for regulations and policy development governing the training, certification, inspection, and oversight of remote pilots and commercial operations involving unmanned aircraft.

Mr. Hassig has been with the FAA for 25 years and served as the team manager for the recent amendment to part 107 applicable to UAS operations over people and night operations. He is also responsible for the FAA Safety Team’s national UAS outreach program for the drone community.


 General Session 6: Beta Technologies – Future of Electric Aircraft at GA & Commercial Airports

Chris Caputo, Flight Test Director & Chief Experience Officer (CXO) -  BETA Technologies

Chris Caputo is the flight test director and Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at Vermont-based BETA Technologies where he is responsible for maintaining the company mission focus and culture. BETA is an electric aerospace company developing electric vertical take off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) with the mission to make flight greener, safer and more accessible. This system, which will reshape the way we move cargo, medical equipment, and military assets, includes an electric vertical take off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), the most extensive multi-modal electric charging infrastructure, and a program to help train the next generation of pilots.

Chris is a 1992 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Mechanics. Throughout his military career, Chris logged over 4,000 flying hours, including seven combat deployments in the A-10 and F-16. Following his time in the military, Chris Boeing 757s and 767s for Delta Air Lines based out of New York City, and has amassed a total of 8,000+ flight hours in over 50 different aircraft. He currently resides in Burlington, VT with his wife Laura and children Lilly (16) and Cal (14).

FAA Seminar - Airport DBE Programs

Diane Gillam, DBE/ACDBE Compliance Specialist, Eastern Region - FAA Office of Civil Rights

Diane Gillam is the DBE/ACDBE Program Compliance Specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Eastern Region in the FAA Office of Civil Rights. In this capacity, she oversees DBE/ACDBE program compliance for hundreds of airports in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Prior to the FAA, Diane worked at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) as the Properties and Senior DBE Manager, as well as the Compliance Manager for Title VI/LEP/EJ, ADA/504, and DBE/ACDBE programs. This work involved managing the programs and reporting to the FAA for compliance purposes, in addition to regular properties management functions including Requests for Proposals, leases for corporate hangars, and managing the concessions program, including food and beverage, retail/news/gift, advertising, vending, and the rental car concessions.

Diane Gillam receives great joy in helping people, and she is always ready to provide technical assistance and support to recipients of FAA funding.