Director of State and Local Government Affairs, American Airlines
Aviation Industry Expert
Chris Kunze brings vast experience to assist clients with environmental, noise, land use and other related strategic issues. He has managed airports for over 30 years, including the acquisition and re-opening of an ex-military airport for public use general aviation purposes.
Kunze managed all aspects of a commercial airport, with a high percentage of general aviation use, for 27 years until retirement in 2008. Since then, he has been active at that airport and others as an advisor on strategic issues.
Over the past several years, Kunze has chaired the Southern California Association of Governments Aviation Advisory Commission during development of the region’s aviation system plan. He also chairs California’s Technical Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which advises the state’s transportation commission on key aviation issues. He previously served on the FAA’s Runway Safety Task Force, which developed the first national plan to enhance airport runway safety.
Through involvement in the development, implementation and oversight of the Long Beach Airport’s Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, Kunze has developed a comprehensive understanding of issues relating to airport noise and land use compatibility. Working with airport tenants and the FAA, he also developed the Long Beach Airport’s Minimum Standards for Aeronautical Activity.
Dedicated to educating and mentoring the next generation of aviation business professionals, Kunze serves as an adjunct professor at California State Universities Long Beach and Los Angeles. He is CFO and a board member for Global Water, a non-profit organization providing fresh clean water systems to rural areas within certain developing nations.
Shawn Schroeder, A.A.E
Assistant Airport Director, Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport
Shawn Schroeder is the Assistant Airport Director at Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, where he oversees the day-day operations including airfield safety, maintenance, facilities, security, and capital projects. Schroeder also oversees the capital improvement development program, and all construction activities to ensure compliance with federal, state and local procedures. In addition, he assists in lease negotiations, air service development, and business development.
Prior to joining Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, Schroeder served as the Assistant Director of Aviation at Springfield Branson National Airport, where he oversaw the day-day operations including airfield safety, maintenance, facilities, security, grounds services, and capital projects Schroeder was vital in the development and construction of a terminal, ARFF Station, Fuel Farm and Consolidated Rental Car Facility. Schroeder was critical in the coordination, and relocation of the facility. In addition, he oversaw and managed of a variety of construction projects ranging from landside, airside and a terminal redevelopment project.
Schroeder has over 25 years of aviation experience specializing in operations, maintenance, security, and emergency procedures. Schroeder held other operations positions ranging from non- hub to medium hub airports in Texas, California, and Missouri.
Schroeder has received an undergraduate degree in Aviation Administration from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. Schroeder has participated in He is a licensed pilot and an accredited member of the American Association of Airport, Past President of the Missouri Airport Managers Association, Past President of the Great Lakes Chapter, AAE, and served as a Past Board of Director for the AAAE.
Ferdinand F. Peña
Manager of Airport Operations & Facilities, Long Beach Airport
Fred Peña has over 40 years of combined airport, airline and aviation leadership experience. He has held various leadership positions with two major air carriers at airports in Hawaii and California. As a station manager he represented his company’s interests and managed their operations; administered multi-disciplined staff, contractors and vendors; and ensured compliance with all federal, state and local regulations.
As the Superintendent of Airport Operations at Long Beach Airport, Peña is responsible for day-to-day operations including airfield safety, maintenance, facilities and capital projects. His customer service experience enables him to successfully interact with airport users, tenants, internal divisions and external organizations to ensure successful business outcomes. In addition, Peña has a track record of ensuring airport staff, facilities and equipment are prepared and provisioned to deal with emergencies or natural disasters.
Peña has produced and distributed new airport documents and manuals such as a signage plan, helicopter pilot guides, inspection checklists and emergency plans. He has worked with city engineering and construction groups to ensure capital improvement projects were completed safely and on schedule. His hands-on approach resulted in Long Beach Airport receiving its first ever “No Findings” determination from the FAA during its annual certification inspection in 2008.
Peña is also an FAA-certified private pilot, flight attendant and airport security coordinator.
Ryan Leick, Ph.D., C.M.
Associate Professor, Airport Operations and Planning, Utah Valley University
Dr. Ryan Leick enjoys executing real-world solutions to the challenging aviation environment grounded in a unique and diverse career in industry and higher education. He brings strategic insight from three airlines and front-line operational knowledge acquired training airport professionals during his lifetime in aviation higher education.
Dr. Leick draws on industry experience in airline marketing, distribution and information technology gained from working for entrepreneurial startup and long-haul low-cost carrier MAXjet Airways, major network carrier United Airlines and privately held, niche carrier Aloha Airlines. His qualifications combine specialized technical application of data science with strategic understanding of the industry, a focus on value creation and large scale project management experience.
Ryan is currently an Associate Professor specializing in airline / airport operations and planning at Utah Valley University. Ryan also teaches the Certified Member course for the American Association of Airport Executives while consulting on a variety of aviation projects with AECOM.
Ryan has traveled to every continent sharing results from his applied research in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Panama, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Recent contributions to the field include research into the effectiveness of centralized deicing facilities during winter operations and the gamification of lean production management for airline schedule optimization.
He is a graduate of the Air Transport Management Ph.D. program at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom and alumni of the School of Business at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach campus.