While COVID-19 had wide-ranging impacts on the airline industry, Philadelphia International Airport's (PHL) Office of Business Diversity (OBD) honored its commitments, spearheaded new initiatives, and were recognized for its efforts.
At the helm of PHL’s OBD is Kathleen Padilla, Deputy Director of Diversity and Inclusion. She and her team lead the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Airport Concessions DBE (ACDBE) commitments, PHL’s Accessibility and Access Programs, and the Language Access Program within the City of Philadelphia Division of Aviation. As a former small business owner, Padilla shares PHL’s passion for advocating for small and disadvantaged business owners through outreach and engagement such as the annual Business Opportunity Forum, small capacity-building workshops, and other training and outreach initiatives. The following highlights the OBD’s awards this year:
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recognized PHL with its 2021 Civil Rights Advocate and Partner Award. The award, honoring the best airport program of the year, acknowledges PHL’s excellence in exceeding the standards of the DBE and ACDBE Programs.
- Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) named Padilla this year’s recipient of the Leon C Watkins Guardian Award. This award recognizes a business diversity leader who has promoted the growth and evolution of minority- and women-owned businesses and suppliers, while also fostering the advancement of civil rights and equal opportunities for all within the airport business environment.
- Padilla will also be honored with this year’s MEDWeek Philadelphia’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Advocate of the Year Award. This award honors Kathleen’s advocacy and tremendous support to the OEO and minority businesses during her tenure in office. This award, to a City of Philadelphia employee, is given by the City’s Minority Enterprise Development Week Committee.
- The Philadelphia Business Journal honored Padilla as one of 24 people recognized as a Diverse Business Leader of 2021. The publication noted that these business leaders have demonstrated success in their respective fields and made significant contributions through philanthropic endeavors.
- This year, under Padilla’s leadership, OBD submitted proposals to the Transportation Research Boards’ Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) on the Interstate Certification Process and the ACDBE Car Rental Goal process. These study topic proposals were approved and will be funded to improve DBE/ACDBE Programs.
"I am grateful for these important recognitions and that they shine a light on very critical equity issues," said Padilla. "All of my achievements are due to the hard work and brilliance of my staff and the support of the airport administration. It is truly a group effort."