The Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) has announced a number of new hires and promotions. Ken Nichols is joining TAA as Vice President of Planning and Engineering. Sarah Simmons was hired as Director of Sustainability & Environmental Services. Receiving promotions are Emin Aydin to Director of Properties and Concessions and Kim DeLaTorre to Director of People Operations.
Nichols will be responsible for the strategic leadership, planning, coordination, and management of airport development projects, programs, and initiatives for the TAA at Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Ryan Airfield (RYN).
“Ken is a great addition to the TAA Executive Team. He brings more than three decades of knowledge and engineering experience for airports,” said TAA President and CEO Danette Bewley. “We have many exciting projects and opportunities over the next several years, so this was a critical hire for the team.”
Prior to joining the TAA, Nichols served as a Senior Project Manager at DOWL, LLC, a professional services firm skilled in planning, surveying, engineering, environmental, and other support services. During his career, Nichols has worked on staff for three airports and with more than 50 airports through consulting assignments.
Nichols has completed several dozen planning, environmental, and infrastructure projects at airports of all sizes across the western United States and Alaska. He brings experience with all phases of complex, multi-year capital improvement programs with construction costs exceeding $100 million.
“This position is an incredible opportunity for me to join the TAA Executive Team to lead completion of several legacy projects that will be implemented in the next 10 years at both airports,” said Nichols.
Nichols is a graduate of University of Idaho and is a Professional Engineer (PE) in seven states. He holds his Certified Member (CM) accreditation through the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and plans to pursue his Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) credentials.
Simmons will direct and coordinate environmental management, planning, sustainability, and compliance activities for Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Ryan Airfield (RYN). She will also ensure the TAA remains in compliance with the Consent Decree obligations associated with the Tucson International Airport Superfund Site. Simmons, an Arizona and Nevada professional environmental engineer, joins the TAA with a deep understanding of environmental projects around the TUS campus.
“The responsibility we hold as stewards of the airport environment requires someone with a very special skill set,” said Bewley. “The TAA is pleased that Sarah has joined our team to fill this critical role.”
Prior to joining the organization, she worked for GHD consulting as an engineer and project manager on the TAA’s Soils Remediation Project. On top of her impressive qualifications, that level of institutional knowledge will allow Simmons to hit the ground running as a director, according to TAA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bruce Goetz.
“We are excited about multiple projects that will transform TUS and Ryan Airfield, and each one has an environmental component,” said Goetz. “As we plan for the future of our airport system, sustainability is a major component that the TAA strives to increase. We are excited to see the impact that Sarah makes as a part of the team.”
Simmons’ environmental career spans more than a decade and includes successful execution of projects from their engineering to their construction phases. That experience includes project management, project cost estimating and tracking, coordination, oversight, environmental compliance, field sampling, Phase I/II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA’s), and emerging contaminant investigations. Simmons earned two bachelor’s degrees from Louisiana State University in Environmental Engineering and Construction Management.
As Director of Properties and Concessions, Aydin is responsible for planning, managing, and coordinating many facets of the Business and Commercial Development Division in property and lease management, concessions, and ground transportation for the TAA, Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Ryan Airfield (RYN).
Prior to joining the TAA in 2021 as the Manager of Properties and Concessions, Aydin oversaw leasing and property management activities for Charleston County Aviation Authority and its three airports. After just six months with the TAA, he was the clear choice for this new leadership role, according to John Voorhees, Vice President / Chief Commercial Officer.
“Emin is a great leader,” said Voorhees. “His insight has benefitted the team since his first day on the job and I look forward to seeing him operate in this new role.”
Bewley shared, “I am always pleased when we can promote from within the organization. I look forward to seeing his growth in the new role.”
Aydin is well versed in aeronautical and nonaeronautical agreements, properties contracts, airport concessions, Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) Program compliance. His resume also includes managerial positions with Ambassador’s Plus and HealthCare Systems of Parking.
Aydin is a graduate of Hacettepe University, where he earned a degree in Social Studies / Archaeology.
DeLaTorre previously served as TAA Manager of Employee Services since August 2021.
“I first became aware of Kim’s immense talent when we collaborated at our previous employer,” said Vice President and Chief People Officer Twyla Salaiz. “It was only a matter of time for her to rise to the challenge of a larger position within the TAA. I am so excited to see her skillset leveraged to its full potential for the benefit of our organization and the Southern Arizona region.”
In her new role, DeLaTorre is responsible to plan, develop, manage, and implement activities of the TAA People Operations Department which provides comprehensive human resource products and services to TAA and its employees. Focus areas include talent acquisition, employee relations, benefits and wellness, leave administration, compensation, performance management and all other HR Services offered to TAA employees. She will also support Talent Lifecycle actions of talent development, management, retention, and workforce planning.
“I am always pleased when we can promote from within the organization,” said Danette Bewley, President/CEO. “Kim has so much to offer. I look forward to seeing her grow in this new role.”
Since assuming her new role with the TAA, DeLaTorre has joined a working group focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as organized by Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA). Her experience with DEI initiatives, talent management, and employee development make her a standout contributor at both the organizational and national level.
Prior to joining the TAA, her resume includes DEI, talent development, and talent acquisition at Raytheon Technologies, as well as work in succession planning, leadership assessment/career development, program management, and data analysis/integration.
DeLaTorre is a graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in Organizational Leadership.