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"This is my home"
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Lysa next to favorite statue of Fiorello LaGuardia in the Marine Air Terminal.
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Q-Do they call you “Mom” as in a
A-She laughs. Funny you say that,
there is one maintenance man, a terrific
man, calls me “Ma”, although we
are about the same age. Same age. I am
ok with it. That’s the motherly side of me
that comes out.
Q-Talking mom’s, was your mom
A-Mom was a huge influence. Luckily
she is alive. Unfortunately I lost my
dad and brother last year. I was raised
with strong work ethic. My parents had
a pizzeria and I like to say I was born in
front of the pizza oven but really worked
from the age of 12. Getting an education
was huge since my mom worked-6 days,
24/7-didnt sleep it seemed. She did not
have an education so she worked so hard
and this was an motivation for me to get
an education, to work hard. She was a
tremendous influence. I had to get an education
and into a field to give them back
what they have worked for. The entrepreneur
route put big burden on my family. It
was not for me. I am looking forward and
proud to spend time with her when I retire
another thing I plan to do.
Q-How did you get into aviation-
A-I got involved by meeting Bill De-
Cota, Port Authority Aviation Director.
I interacted with him when he was running
the Port downtown. I was on other
side managing with finances. He was a
great mentor. There was an opportunity
in the property department so the time
was right to take a chance. I didn’t know
about aviation but I knew finances. Bill
mentored me and showed me great opportunities.
Honestly this business bites
you. Once you are in it you don’t want to
go anywhere else, honestly. This is the biz
I wanted to stay in.
l have been in development and the
strategy side and customer touching
pieces in the airport. I had changed my
career direction entirely.
After a year back in corporate I went
back to LaGuardia. Through a series of
openings I came back as a Deputy General
In 2010 Bill has passed, he never forgot
my personal development
Q-How was Sue Baer an influence?
A-Sue was my next mentor. There
were few of us females in the aviation department
at the time and she really encouraged
me to go to LGA 2008. She developed
an opportunity for me to come
to LGA and had worked so hard to break
barriers for women.
Sue set the standard for other younger
women who now have risen up into opportunities.
We pay back. She did so much
for me; one thing with admiration and
excitement such as with women in WOW,
which is all about giving back to those behind
us. I look back at my career. 33 years
is a moment. .We need to help to support
doing what we are meant to be here for
the young women who work here.
She opened the door and he supported
it. I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude
to both Bill and Sue. I wouldn’t be
here without them.
Q-What advice do you give to others,
especially young women?
A-You have to pay it back, actually pay
it forward. The future does not come by
chance. You have to build it. The Port
has a Port Authority Women’s Council
engaged in that and spread word across
other facilities. LGA has the original
WOW chapter and JFK has stated a WOW.
They women running it are inspiration
and leading it. I watch them and amazed
by their professional commitment and
dedicating their time in this.
I recommend they make their way.
This is not specific to being in aviation or
leader in aviation. My advice is to be yourself,
be real. not be afraid to speak up and
take risks. I am a type A rule based person.
I had to learn that rules are important
for structure but not everything has
to be 100% . We need to take next steps.
like I did when offered an aviation opportunity
when I worked in finance downtown.
We as women are born to say I need
to know everything before I can take that
next jog, I need to be perfect. Women need
to take risks and speak up. I have been involved
in schools because I think young
girls tend to raise hands in early grades.
They tend to be self conscious.
Girls need to break that habit and
don’t be afraid to ask questions because
there are no wrong questions.
Take risks, be open, be real and develop
You cannot be successful if you are an
island unto yourself. You need to build
bridges, keep people in your corner. I am
Q-Given your support for women,
how do you feel about the men’s interactions?
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