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Meet the women who run America's Favorite Airport

March is Women’s History Month, and today we celebrate the women who work hard every day to make Tampa International Airport one of the best Airports in America. 

Aviation has always been a heavily male dominated field. Today, 28% of TPA’s employees are female. That’s compared to the industry average where women make up less than 20% of most aviation occupations. According to data from the FAA and a study from the University of Nebraska, areas with the largest gender gaps continue to be pilots, maintenance technicians, and senior leadership positions. By comparison, women represent 47% of the total US workforce. 

Meet some of the women running Tampa International Airport pictured above from top left to bottom right. 

Cheryl Hawkins, Senior Manager, Business Diversity 
18 years at TPA 

Cheryl Hawkins is responsible for managing the daily operations of the Business Diversity Programs structured for the inclusion of woman and minority businesses at Tampa International Airport. 

Notable Contributions: Worked to help redevelop the Airport Concessions program to include more local, women, and minority owned businesses; helped recruit contractors to build TPA’s Rental Car Center; represents the FAA as an Executive Committee Member for the Florida Unified Certification Program. 

Woman Who Inspires You: Oprah Winfrey.  She created a media empire and was the first African American woman billionaire. She acquired her wealth by engaging with people and having honest conversation about topics of global interest, and with her wealth created additional paths for herself and others by building schools, producing and acting in movies.

Carol Cowan, Senior Construction Project Manager 
12 years at TPA 

Carol Cowan represents TPA on construction projects, administers contracts and ensures the contractor provides the product the Airport purchased at the cost the Airport paid. 
Notable Contributions: The expansion of Airside F and refurbishment of the Customs and Boarder Protection Facilities, which provided capacity for three 777 aircraft; Main Terminal Expansion that increased the capacity of the Transfer Level; oversaw the addition of 64 new shops and restaurants at TPA and the renovation of airside seating areas; oversaw the construction of SkyCenter One, TPA’s new LEED Platinum-certified office building. 

Woman Who Inspires You: Eleanor Roosevelt because she was a great advocate of human and women's rights. 

Tara Camp, Director of Procurement Non Capital Programs 
6.5 years at TPA 

Tara Camp is responsible for the oversight of all non-capital related (non-construction) purchases made to operate the Airport, which includes ensuring purchases are made in accordance with Authority policies and procedures and Florida statutes. 

Notable Contributions: Implemented a new paperless eProcurement system for Airport contracts which streamlined the process and enhanced transparency. 

Woman Who Inspires You: My mother and grandmother who have taught me to be a strong, hardworking, and independent woman. 

Laura Tatem, Vice President of Internal Audit 
10 years at TPA 

Laura oversees a strong audit team who comb through the finances and processes of each department at the Authority and ensure compliance with numerous policies, procedures, laws and regulations. Since joining the Authority in 2013, Laura has successfully expanded and elevated the profile of the Internal Audit team, championing a culture of continuous process improvement and increased efficiencies throughout the organization. During this time, she navigated a challenging and politically sensitive state audit, demonstrating leadership and resilience, and she has become a highly respected team member known for sound judgment and candor. 

Notable Contributions: Laura currently serves as a key member of the Airside D Steering Committee, demonstrating her value in major decision-making processes at TPA. As someone who served as President and other leading roles for the Association of Airport Internal Auditors, Laura coordinated and hosted the 2021 AAIA annual conference, pioneering the association’s first-ever hybrid conference. She most recently was selected to join the 2024 class of Leadership Tampa, and she’s a regular speaker at various professional organization events both in the audit industry and the Tampa Bay community. 

Woman Who Inspires You: My mother, she was always strong, driven, and taught me about work ethic.

Marilyn Gauthier, Senior Manager, General Aviation 
28 years at TPA 

Marilyn Gauthier helps oversee General Aviation at Tampa International Airport and HCAA’s three smaller feeder airports, Tampa Executive, Peter O. Knight and Plant City Airport. 

Notable Contributions: Helps throw TPA’s annual GALA event raising scholarship money for young women looking to break into the field of aviation. 

Women who Inspires You: Sue Mowery-Schalk, a female leader within the FAA who helped inspire my career in aviation.

Susana Figueredo, Senior Construction Project Manager, Planning & Development 
2 years at TPA 

Susana Figueredo ensures the Airport’s construction projects are executed according to quality standards, within the budget and on the contracted time. She works hard on logistics and coordination of the projects, to make sure the project is completed safely with minimal impact to Airport operations and the passenger experience. 

Notable Contributions: Oversaw the installation of Phoebe, TPA’s 21-foot-tall flamingo; managed site development and construction for the massive atrium and pedestrian bridge that connects the Rental Car Center and SkyConnect to Tampa International Airport’s new office building, SkyCenter One. 

Woman Who Inspires You: “I have a very wide range of women that inspire me or I admire. Their character, accomplishments, independence and courage, are the common denominator of what attracts my interest on them. One example would be Naomi Parker Fraley because of her impact on women being able to be part of the workforce.” 

Smitha Radhakrishnan, Executive Vice President of Planning & Development and Maintenance 
Started Feb. 26, 2024 

Smitha Radhakrishnan is the new EVP overseeing the Authority’s Planning & Development and Maintenance teams. She has more than 20 years of experience overseeing complex infrastructure capital programs, commercial real estate investments, and associated capital fundraising functions in both the private and public sectors. Smitha has worked for Dallas Fort Worth International Airport for the past 11 years, serving in various leadership capacities at DFW’s Planning, Design, Code & Construction, and Commercial Development departments. 

Notable Contributions: While new to the Authority, in her most recent role as DFW’s Vice President of Planning, she was responsible for securing the airport’s growth and operational capabilities through master planning and strategic advisory support of their various aviation and non-aviation business units. She will now supervise projects from Phase II of TPA’s Master Plan, as well as Airside D. 

Sarah Brammell, Director of Airport Operations & Emergency Management 
1 year at TPA 

In her role, Sarah Brammell supports and leads TPA’s Airfield, AOC, Safety Programs, and Emergency Management verticals. 

Notable Contributions: As a FAA-Qualified Wildlife Biologist, Sarah lead and develop the strategy and direction for the safe and efficient control of wildlife hazards at TPA.

Capt. Beth Baucom, Tampa International Airport Police 
19 years at TPA 

Beth Baucom serves as Patrol Captain overseeing operational and administrative functions with the Tampa International Airport Police Department. She works to ensure officers foster positive relationships within the Airport community and with local and federal law enforcement partners, while maintaining a safe and secure environment for all who work and travel through TPA. “I am fortunate to lead officers who rival the finest officers in the country,” said Capt. Baucom. “It is truly my honor to serve and support our law enforcement team at TPAPD.” 

Notable Contributions: Integral part of the recruitment and hiring process of new officers; assigned as Dignitary Protection Coordinator for the 2012 Republican National Convention; Honor Guard Bagpiper for countless Law Enforcement memorials in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. 

Woman Who Inspires You: “Amelia Earhart set many records and firsts for women without regard for those who doubted her. I’m inspired by her fearlessness!” 

Emily Nipps, Director of Communications 
11 years at TPA 

Emily Nipps handles public relations and communications for TPA, acting as a media liaison during newsworthy events at the Airport and helping the Aviation Authority communicate clearly to the public and employees. “Not a single day of my job has been boring.” 

Notable Contributions: Communicated vital information to passengers during the COVID-19 travel shutdown; kept the media and public informed during three hurricane closures; helped coordinate dozens of exciting new air service announcements 

Woman Who Inspires You: I’ve been lucky enough to have some very powerful and supportive female bosses and mentors throughout my PR career, all of whom have inspired and influenced me in different ways. 

Elita McMillon, Vice President, Human Resources and Administration 
20+ years at TPA 

Elita McMillon contributes to the overall success of Tampa International Airport by shaping HR strategy and fostering a positive work environment, identifying and mitigating risk, administrative support such as records management. 

Woman Who Inspires You: Adelaide Few, former Senator Arthenia Joyner, and others who were some of the first women to serve on the Authority’s Board at a time when there were very few women on staff, let alone in management roles. I am inspired by how they broke down barriers for women and helped shape the Airport's future.