Api Appulingam, P.E., Deputy Director of Aviation-Capital Development for the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Aviation, was appointed Vice Chair of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for 2021-22. This committee works to promote and facilitate the inclusion of women and minorities in all aspects of the aviation industry, from organizational leadership and participation in AAAE at the national and regional chapter levels, to creating awareness of and participation in contracting, construction and concession opportunities. She joins Eugene Airport Acting Airport Director Cathryn Stephens, A.A.E. (Chair) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport Guest Relations Manager and Event Coordinator Carol-Ann Gaddis (Vice Chair) to lead the committee.
Appulingam was appointed chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee (now Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee) for AAAE’s Northeast Chapter (NEC-AAAE) when it was established in February 2019. “In June 2020, I renamed the NEC-AAAE committee to include equity in the name,” said Appulingam. “Diversity asks who is at the table, inclusion asks do all feel they belong at the table and equity asks what are the barriers to getting to and staying at the table. We want to be an organization that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion and create an environment that respects and values individual difference. This name change was a small step but it was a meaningful step to turn our dialogue into action.” The AAAE followed by renaming the national committee to include equity.
During her tenure as chair, the NEC-AAAE Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee has hosted virtual summits to spotlight and build awareness about important and relevant topics, especially as they relate to the aviation industry. In 2021, the summits have focused on Black History, LGBTQ+ and Asian American and Pacific Islanders. At the Chapter’s 2020 annual conference, Appulingam spoke about COVID-19’s impact on women and racial minority groups. Later this month, the chapter will present its first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award in Burlington, VT. The award was established earlier this year to recognize airports and organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of DE&I.
“I am excited for the opportunity to take the momentum in the Northeast Chapter to the national level,” said Appulingam.
In her role for the Division of Aviation, Appulingam oversees all of the PHL and PNE projects in the multi-billion dollar Capital Development Program. She is President-Elect of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar and a board member of the Free Library of Philadelphia Board of Trustees.
“We are proud of Api’s work to make our industry more diverse and inclusive,” said PHL CEO Chellie Cameron. “Her leadership and experience will be an asset to AAAE.”