Mario C. Diaz is Director of the City of Houston Department of Aviation. He is responsible for the executive leadership of the Houston Airport System (HAS) and its three aviation facilities — George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) — and its more than 1,300 employees. He is one of the industry’s leading authorities in the study of future developments in commercial aviation. Since his arrival in Houston in 2010, Diaz has led efforts along three broad strategic fronts: establish Intercontinental as the region’s long-haul, full service international airport; convert Hobby to a regional international airport of the Americas; and develop Ellington as the nation’s tenth licensed spaceport. Diaz has taken this approach in order to advance the airport system’s mission, “to connect the people, businesses, cultures and economies of the world to Houston.” The two commercial airports have seen record-setting growth in both domestic and international passenger numbers. In 2014, more than 53 million passengers passed through the gates at IAH and HOU, almost 10 million of them flying aboard international flights. Both of these numbers represent all-time highs in airport passenger totals and the numbers are likely to increase moving forward, thanks to the steady expansion of international carriers operating at IAH and to the establishment of regional international flight service at Hobby Airport. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, Houston experienced a flood of new air service options available at IAH, including: four new international air carriers targeting markets in Asia (Air China, Korean Air, All Nippon Airways and EVA Air), new nonstop flights to Europe and Oceania (Turkish Air, Scandinavian Airlines and Air New Zealand), along with increased competition to Latin America (Volaris & Interjet). Meanwhile at Hobby Airport, a partnership with Southwest Airlines resulted in a new $156 million international concourse (to open on October 15, 2015) and the return of international air service. In 2013, Diaz was named “Airport Director of the Year” by Airport Revenue News Magazine and was named “Public Official of the Year” by the University of Houston Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program in 2014. The Houston Business Journal also named him as a finalist in its inaugural “CEO of the Year” competition in 2015. Prior to his appointment in 2010, Diaz was the deputy general manager for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. He began his career in Atlanta in 1999 and was responsible for ensuring the daily operational activities of the world’s busiest airport. His 17-year career with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began in 1981 and included key management positions in leasing, finance, marketing, operations and properties. During this period, Diaz also served 18 months as the assistant director of the redevelopment program at John F. Kennedy Airport. He also worked at Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport. A native of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, and a licensed private pilot with instrument certification, Diaz earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in finance from Rutgers Graduate School of Business Administration in New Jersey.