Thella F. Bowens, President/CEO
In March 2003, Thella F. Bowens was appointed President/CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the owner and operator of San Diego International Airport as of January 1, 2003. As President/CEO, Ms. Bowens is responsible for management oversight of the Authority, including the Authority's $236.4 million operating budget and $1.7 billion five-year capital budget. According to the most recent economic impact study, San Diego International Airport generates more than $9 billion annually in economic impact for the region.
Prior to 2003, when the San Diego Unified Port District operated the airport, Ms. Bowens was the Port’s Senior Director of Aviation for seven years. From September 2001 through December 2002, simultaneous with her position at the Port, she served as Interim Executive Director/President of the new San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, as required by the state legislation that created the Authority. In that capacity, she performed the monumental task of planning and implementing the transfer of the airport to its role as an independent entity.
Prior to coming to San Diego, Ms. Bowens served as the Deputy Executive Director of Kansas City’s Aviation Department, which included Kansas City International Airport and the city’s two general aviation airports. She previously served as Budget Administrator for the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport in Texas. She has acquired 30-plus years of experience in public administration, with the last 25 years in the aviation field.
Ms. Bowens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College of Columbia University and has done graduate work at the University of North Texas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Institute sponsored by the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.
Ms. Bowens is President of the California Airports Council Board of Directors, a member of the World Governing Board of Airports Council International, and a board member of the American Association of Airport Executives Policy Review Committee. In 2010 she served as a member of the Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, and in 2012 she was the Chair of Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA).
Locally, she is a member of boards of the San Diego World Trade Center, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, San Diego Tourism Authority, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Kyoto Symposium Organization.
Ms. Bowens has previously served on the boards of the San Diego United Way, the San Diego Symphony and the National Conflict Resolution Center.