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AMAC Legends & Leapers: January 2022

January 26 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The AMAC Legends & Leapers speaker series 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.

Please register to participate in this informative and fun virtual discussion. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Aviation Legend: Steve Johnson
President & CEO, HMSHost

Steve Johnson is President & CEO of HMSHost, a global restaurateur and world leader in delivering innovative dining solutions in travel venues. HMSHost operates in more than 120 airports around the globe delivering immersive experiences in dining.

Steve joined the company in 2000 and has played a critical role in the growth and development of the core business.

During his influential career, he served as Executive Vice President of Business Development where he oversaw business development, design & construction and restaurant development teams. He has led the winning and/or extending of major airport and motorway contracts, as well as the evolution and enhancement of HMSHost’s restaurant portfolio. His vision has led to strategic global partnerships, an impressive portfolio of proprietary concepts, and the winning approach to bring travelers a balanced mix of quality dining solutions.

Prior to joining HMSHost, Steve served as Director of Westfield Concession Management Inc. helping to create their airport entry strategy. He also worked in shopping mall development and management for several Washington area regional shopping centers.

Steve was named as one of the Women’s Foodservice Forum Industry Titans for his forward-thinking leadership and commitment to prioritizing women’s advancement at HMSHost and increasing opportunities for women across the industry. HMSHost continues to focus on building diversity and inclusive practices as part of Steve’s vision to transform the landscape of travel dining.

Steve also serves on boards of the National Restaurant Association and the HMSHost Foundation. When not giving back to the community, Steve spends time with his family including his wife Kelly and their two grown daughters. Steve holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the University of Texas at Arlington.


Aviation Leaper: Shawnta Young
Commercial Operations Manager, Midway Partnership/Chicago Midway International Airport

Currently, Shawnta Young works as an Operations Manager at Midway Partnership, a joint venture that includes some of the most respected names in the aerospace business. She has a 15-year background in the operations department. Shawnta worked as a General Manager for a number of large-scale stores before joining Midway Partnership. Shawnta initially planned to pursue a career as a journalist, but she soon realized she had a natural aptitude for working in retail customer service. The Bachelor of Administration and the Bachelor of Science in Business Management that Shawnta earned allowed her to pursue her dream of working for a Fortune 500 business and becoming one of the youngest Assistant Managers.


Moderator: Mori Russell
Southeast Regional Director, AMAC Board of Directors
Vice Chair, AMAC Emerging Leaders Committee
Business Development Manager, Concessions International

Mori Russell is an entrepreneur and leads Business Development at Concession International, an airport food and beverage company. Mori is a third-generation leader of her family business, Concessions International, which was started more than 40 years ago by her grandfather Herman Jerome Russell. She is the Owner of Olle Fit, a wellness company focused on mind, body and spirit. Mori also owns a consulting firm, MCR Services LLC, where she provides development and community outreach work.

Mori graduated in 2015, with her Master of International Business from Florida International University. While in school, she founded and operated her first company, an accessory boutique, O’Amor, in Miami, Florida and online.

Aside from her daily business-oriented goals and operations, she leads Concessions International’s Corporate Social Responsibility Arm, CI Cares, serves as the Southeast Regional Director for the Airport Minority Advisory Council, and serves on the YMCA 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 26
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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