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AMAC Legends & Leapers: January 2021

January 27 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

What is AMAC Legends & Leapers?

AMAC’s newest program, AMAC Legends & Leapers, is a monthly conversation between an aviation industry legend and an emerging leader designed to showcase the commonalities and differences in perspective on the aviation industry. 

AMAC Legends & Leapers
A Virtual Conversation
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern Time


Aviation Legend: Gregg Paradies
President & CEO, Paradies Lagardère

Gregg Paradies is President and CEO of Paradies Lagardère, leading airport travel retailer and restaurateur in North America with more than 950 stores and restaurants in approximately 100 airports. With expertise in international, national and local brands, Paradies Lagardère works with airport, brand and supplier partners to create memorable and positive experiences for today’s travelers. Gregg is responsible for the company’s overall business and ensuring Paradies Lagardère continues its strong tradition of providing exceptional customer service, superior design and award-winning store and restaurant operations and management. 

Prior to his appointment as president and CEO in June 2004, Gregg held a number of roles within the organization. Upon earning a degree in Business Administration in Finance from the University of Texas, he entered the retail industry through the Executive Training Program at Macy’s. Shortly thereafter, he joined the family business that his father and uncle created as the manager of hotel properties. In 1991, he was elevated to Regional Vice President of Operations and then eventually the chief operating officer in 2001. He assumed his current role in 2004. 

As President and CEO, Gregg has sustained the company’s track record of 59 consecutive years of profitability since its founding in 1960. Known for its customer-service and excellent brand partnerships, Paradies Lagardère seamlessly represents top-tier retail and dining brands in airports, such as: SPANX; CNBC; Brooks Brothers; Dylan’s Candy Bar; Univision; TripAdvisor; Brighton; PGA TOUR Shops, Chick-fil-A; P.F. Chang’s; Dunkin’ Donuts; Gordon Biersch; and celebrity chefs Cat Cora, Michael Symon and Michael Mina. 

Paradies Lagardère is continually recognized for its customer service and industry-leading quality in its store and restaurant operations and designGregg’s leadership has earned the organization consistent honors from the industry, highlighted by its 25-year run as the “Best Airport Retailer,” awarded annually by Airport Experience News (AXN). Other major accolades include AXN’s “Retailer with the Highest Regard for Customer Service” award, earned in 20 of the past 25 years; AXN’s “Best Brand Restaurateur” for its operation of the Chick-fil-A brand, earned most recently in 2020; multiple “Best Specialty Retail Brand Operator” awards; and several “Best News and Gift Concept” and “Best New Food and Beverage Concept” awards by Airports Council International (ACI), North America.  

Gregg’s vision and commitment to philanthropy has also guided Paradies Lagardère’s participation in a wide variety of community giving and programs that support key groupsincluding Make-A-Wish®No Kid Hungry® and the company’s Treat Our Troops program. The organization strives to support the communities in which its employees live and work and make a positive difference in the lives of its employees, business partners and customers.  

Gregg also strongly supports travel industry associations as a member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and Airports Council International (ACI) North America, as well as a corporate membership of the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC). 


Aviation Leaper: Keiva Rodriques
Deputy Chief, Planning & Engineering, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

Keiva Rodriques is Deputy Chief Engineer at the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Aviation Administration currently overseeing the administration of the Division of Planning and Engineering for both Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall and Martin State Airports. Keiva provides organizational strategy and policy development for the planning, design and construction of projects for both airportsKeiva has over 17 years of experience in program management, design and construction, aviation constructioninterior renovations, safety, strategic planning and Federal acquisition strategy. During her previous experience in private industry, Keiva managed Federal programs for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

Keiva received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Baltimore. She is also a Project Management Professional and a Certified Construction Manager. She was the recipient of the Building Design + Construction Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Award in 2018. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Project Modal Award from the Maryland Quality Initiative. She’s a member of the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC), American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a Board Member for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. She enjoys volunteering and introducing kids to careers in STEM through the WTS Transportation YOU program and the BWI Summer Youth Initiative. 


Moderator: Mori Russell
Southeast Regional Director, AMAC

Mori Russell is the Business Development Manager at Concession International and the Southeast Region Director for the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC). She represents the third generation of the Russell family involvement in Concessions International. Mori is a key member of the Business Development team and has begun developing and maintaining crucial business relationships while helping to elevate the level of innovation at the company.

Mori graduated in 2015, with her Master of International Business from Florida International University. While in school, she founded and operated her own accessory boutique, O’Amor, in Miami, Florida and online. She also has 6 years of experience in the airport industry. She held management positions at both the Duty-Free America store in Atlanta, Georgia and the Coffee Beanery in the Miami International Airport.

Joining the Concessions International family has not only allowed Mori to learn from some of the best industry leaders, but also has given her the opportunity to work with CI partners. Having been a young entrepreneur herself, she understands the importance of having organizations available to support and promote small business owners.

Aside from her daily business-oriented goals and operations, she leads Concessions International’s Corporate Social Responsibility arm, CI Cares and serves on the Metro Atlanta Ambassador Board. Mori shares her late grandfather, Herman Jerome Russell’s, passion for entrepreneurship and supporting causes that are impactful to communities.


Moderator: Ricky Smith
Chair, AMAC Board of Directors
CEO, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan appointed Ricky Dorell Smith as Executive Director of the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) on July 10, 2015. Mr. Smith is responsible for the planning, operation, and management of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall), Martin State Airport, and regional aviation activities for the State of Maryland.

Mr. Smith, a 29-year transportation official, returned to Maryland after serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Cleveland Airport System, which includes Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Burke Lakefront Airport. In addition, he was responsible for overseeing the development and management of the City’s lakefront properties.

Mr. Smith worked to establish and execute a strategic direction for Cleveland Hopkins International Airport that included expanding airport revenue sources, strengthening the airport’s brand recognition, improving airfield safety, and enhancing the passenger experience. During Mr. Smith’s leadership in Ohio, Cleveland Hopkins was recognized as the most-improved airport in North America by the international aviation industry organization, Airports Council International-North America. He led the development of a new $2 billion master plan for the Cleveland Airport System that is developing new cargo facilities and expanded corporate hangars, improved parking facilities, a new on-airport hotel, an improved passenger terminal building, a new on-airport service station/fast food plaza, and a new state-of-the-art FAA Air Traffic Control Tower.

Prior to his service in Cleveland, Mr. Smith served as the Chief Operating Officer for the MAA. Mr. Smith helped lead BWI Marshall Airport through a $2 billion expansion program, increased air service throughout the world, and the creation of a new food and retail program. Prior to returning to the MAA after a two-year departure, Ricky served as the Deputy Administrator for the Maryland State Highway Administration. There, he oversaw an approximate $1 billion annual budget and co-developed the financing strategy for the largest capital project in Maryland history – the Inter-County Connector. In addition, he served in the private sector for several years with International Business Machines, H&R Block Business Services, The May Company, and others.

Ricky holds an Accounting degree from Howard University and an Executive MBA from Loyola University in Maryland. He is a graduate of several leadership programs, including Leadership Cleveland, the Greater Baltimore Committee, and the University of Maryland Government Executive Institute. He is active on several national and local boards and industry associations including the American Association of Airport Executives, the Washington Board of Trade, the BWI Business Partnership, the World Trade Center Institute, AERO Club of Washington, the Greater Baltimore Urban League, and the U.S. Department of Transportation National Freight Advisory Council.

He has been recognized as the ‘National Executive of the Year’ (2010) by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, ‘Most Influential CEO in Northeast Ohio (2013 and 2014) by Crain’s Magazine, ‘Influential Marylander’ (2017) by The Daily Record, and ‘CEO Power 10’ by the Baltimore Business Journal (2018).

He and his family reside in Howard County, Maryland.


January 27
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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