“As the daughter of two immigrants, my parents’ story and my own involved moving and flying to different parts of the world to pursue opportunity,” says Deborah Ale Flint, ’90 Business Administration, a native of Hamilton Ontario, Canada. “Those early experiences with aviation and airports made a lasting impression. Seeing so many different places in the world and how aviation and airports connect people had a profound effect on me.”
“I loved that there was a mission and a purpose to it.”
The well-travelled Flint is now improving the travel experience for others in one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs. CEO of Los Angeles World Airports since last June, she oversees three airports: Los Angeles International, LA/Ontario International and Van Nuys. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who nominated her for the post, calls Flint “a rising star in the airport sector.” Among her duties: managing the $8.5 billion renovation and modernization of LAX, which serves 75 million passengers each year, a project described as the largest public works project in the history of the city of Los Angeles. Her goal is to renew the airport’s “iconic status for the modern traveler,” she says, while improving the guest experience. “I’m leading the team to adopt a hospitality mindset while keeping functionality, safety and security and delivering a solution that fixes the traffic congestion problem. Los Angeles needed these improvements yesterday.”
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at San José State, Flint majored in business because “business offered me a strong technical, analytical background and the flexibility to find the industry that was right for me,” she explains. “That sure turned out to be true.”
After working in Silicon Valley for a year in credit and financing at a microchip company, Flint joined the finance division of the Port of Oakland, which oversees the seaport as well as Oakland International Airport. She became aviation director in 2010, issuing revenue bonds for the airport and working on capital and development programs as well as runway projects.
“The (Oakland) job helped me to see and experience the complexities of planning, engineering, community outreach and the business aspect of developing and constructing projects,” Flint says. “I loved that there was a mission and a purpose to it.”
Flint’s current mission is ensuring that the LAX modernization project remains on track with key components—such as an automated people mover, a consolidated Rent-A-Car Center, roadway improvements, and facilities for additional parking—scheduled for completion by 2023, just in time for the 2024 Olympics.