State Director of Aeronautics
Grayson Ardies has been the Oklahoma State Director of Aeronautics since November 2020. The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission's mission is to promote aviation and aerospace, which includes fostering the growth of the aerospace industry and ensuring that the needs of commerce and communities across Oklahoma are met by the 108 public airports that comprise the state’s air transportation system. Ardies emphasis is on promoting the aerospace industry, one of the state’s largest industries and top employers; critical planning and development for the state’s air transportation system; making the state’s 49 regional business airports the best possible economic centers in their communities; and encouraging public-private partnerships to promote the aerospace industry.
Ardies began working for the Commission in 2009 as an intern. Rising through the ranks, he became the lone 5010 airport inspector as an Aviation Program Manager, conducting airport and pavement inspections at Oklahoma’s public-use, general aviation airports to provide each community with a foundation for the federal and state capital planning process. In 2016 he became Manager of the Airport Division to oversee the development of the Commission’s Five-year Airport Construction Program which directs approximately $25 million of federal, state, and local funding per year. He was responsible for airport inspections, airspace zoning reviews in accordance with the State’s Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act, the state’s anemometer tower marking law, and providing assistance to airports with their development, operation, and technical documents. Ardies served as Deputy Director from January 2019 through October 2020, and was unanimously selected by the seven-member Commission to fill the State Director of Aeronautics position, beginning November 2020.
He has led many statewide agency initiatives including a three-year effort working with the state legislature regarding the protection of military training airspace. He also managed a two-year project that conducted an Aerospace and Aviation Economic Impact Study which established the industry as the second largest economic engine in the state. Under his leadership the Commission developed a unique P3 (public/private) partnership at Carlton Landing Airport on Lake Eufaula, and guided the difficult but necessary five-year effort to close Lake Murray State Park Airport.
Ardies was awarded the honorable 2020 State Aviation Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO). The award, which was established in 1989, honors State Aviation personnel who have excelled in their service and dedication to aviation progress and development in their state. Director Ardies graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Aviation Management with double minors in Business Administration and Air Traffic Control. As part of his education through the aviation program, he also received a commercial pilot’s license with single and multi-engine instrument ratings and is a certified flight instructor.
Chief Operations Officer
Chris Wadsworth joined the Aeronautics Commission in September 2019, continuing his career with the State of Oklahoma that started in 2009. Prior to coming to the Commission, Chris worked at the Oklahoma Insurance Department, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Oklahoma Christian University. He is also a Certified Procurement Officer with the State of Oklahoma.
As the Chief Operations Officer, Chris is responsible for planning and directing the fiscal operations and financial accounting functions for the agency, including budgeting, auditing, investments, cash management, procurement, and other fiscal operations. He is also responsible for directing the personnel and operations functions of the agency.
Deputy Operations Officer
Courtney Finney, an Oklahoma native, began his employment with the State of Oklahoma in 2009, and is a Certified Procurement Officer (CPO) for the State. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Oklahoma, and his graduate degree from Southern Nazarene University. Courtney accepted a position with the Aeronautics Commission in 2018 as the Assistant Operations Officer, and works closely with the Chief Operations Officer.
As the Deputy Operations Officer, Courtney is responsible for managing the agency’s accounts payable and procurement related functions, maintaining accounting procedures, preparing financial data, and performing fiscal reporting. Courtney also assists with managing some of the agency’s other business functions such as personnel, fleet management, and inventory management.
Benyamin Naghavi joined the Commission in November 2018 as its Airport Engineer. Ben obtained a Bachelor and Master of Science in civil and Hydraulic Structures Engineering from Ferdowsi University in Iran. He then received a scholarship from the University of Oklahoma and moved the state in 2011 where he earned a Masters in Civil Engineering and Environmental Science in December of 2013. He began working for Burgess Engineering and Testing during 2014 as a Geotechnical Engineer in Training (EIT). Ben brings comprehensive geotechnical experience to the Commission with a wide variety of laboratory testing, in-situ testing, laboratory test analysis, and project management. He has experience working with non-destructive testing on pavement such as Falling Weight Deflectometer (FWD) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), and pavement design and analysis. Ben is a Registered Professional Engineer in the states of Oklahoma and Texas.
Communications and Government Affairs Coordinator
Sandra Shelton joined the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in April 2016 as the Aviation Education Coordinator & Government Affairs Liaison. She assumed the responsibilities as the Communications and Government Affairs Coordinator a few months later. She is accountable for the marketing and communication and legislative policy development efforts for the agency. In addition to tactical aviation marketing, she directs social and print media, branding, advertising and website development. She manages and oversees events, content writing, legislative research and development, policy development, speech writing, video vignettes and document layout/design.
Able to leverage over 24 years of continued education, training, technical expertise and hands-on private sector and state civil service experience in communications with a focus in government affairs, she is a native of Yukon and attended Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City campus. Hired in 1997 as a legislative assistant in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for State Representative Ray McCarter, (D) Marlow, her nine-year tenure includes clerking for Representatives Bill Nations, Clay Pope, Wallace Collins, Mike Ervin and Congressman Dan Boren. Recruited by the Senate Republican Leadership in 2004 by then Freshman Senator Don Barrington, she also was the interim assistant to Senator Eddie Fields, Senator Dan Newberry, and Senator Patrick Anderson.
A free-lance writer, she is a former contributing columnist for the internet news outlet, Examiner.com. Shelton currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Secretary for the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. which administers various art projects at the Oklahoma State Legislature at no cost to the public. Shelton has also served in the private sector as a social media manager with expertise in layout and design, film production, and digital media strategy.
Aviation Program Manager
Nick Young joined the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in October of 2019. As an Aviation Program Manager, he is responsible for 5010-1 Master Record updates by conducting pavement and safety/standard inspections at Oklahoma’s public-use, general aviation airports. Nick assists with developing the Airport Construction Program (ACP) and updates to the Oklahoma Airport System Plan (OASP). He also conducts airspace zoning reviews and prepares related permitting documents in accordance with the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act (APPPA). Prior to joining the Commission, he served as an Airport Operations Officer in Norman, OK and Construction Assessment lead for the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project. Nick earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management from the University of Oklahoma and Master of Business Administration degree with emphasis in Aerospace Logistics from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He is also a Certified Member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
Aviation Program Manager
Thomas Galloway came to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in June of 2020. Before coming to the Commission, Thomas worked as an Operations Specialist at the Crater Lake – Klamath Regional Airport in Klamath Falls, Oregon; in addition to a prior background in the oil and gas industry. Thomas is an active member of the aviation community as a private pilot in both gliders and powered aircraft as well as hang gliding. Thomas’ educational background includes a Bachelor of Science form Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott Campus, and Certified Member and Airport Certified Employee Designations from the American Association of Airport Executives.
As an Aviation Program Manager, he is responsible for 5010-1 Master Record updates by conducting pavement and safety/standard inspections at Oklahoma’s public-use, general aviation airports. Thomas assists with developing the Airport Construction Program (ACP) and updates to the Oklahoma Airport System Plan (OASP). He also conducts airspace zoning reviews and prepares related permitting documents in accordance with the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act (APPPA).
Aerospace & Aviation Education Program Coordinator
Paula Kedy is a life-long educator, most recently serving as the Executive Director of Academics and Instruction for the Ada City School District. Kedy was named the Oklahoma Supreme Court Teacher of the Year in 2004 and has also been recognized as a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. She is a past president of the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English and currently serves on the national steering committee for the AOPA High School You Can Fly program. Kedy has partnered with aviation business and industry leaders in the implementation of The Sky is Not the Limit, the Ada City School District's district-wide aviation program and currently works across the state to strengthen aviation education on behalf of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in her role as their Aerospace & Aviation Education Program Coordinator. Kedy may be reached at 580.436.9223 regarding aerospace education initiatives and the agency's Aviation Education Grant Program.
Executive Assistant to the Director
Andrea began her tenure at the Commission in August of 2019 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Museum Studies from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Her public service includes working as the Executive Assistant to numerous city managers with the City of Guthrie. She also served as their Tourism Director, executing annual department budget proposals, financial reports, purchasing, board meeting agendas and minutes, and marketing and communications planning. Ms. Post also served in the Pioneer Library System for the Norman Public Library East. Andrea is vital to the function of the agency and provides administrative support to the Director, which includes managing his busy calendar, calls, email, and travel. On behalf of the Director, Andrea communicates with others outside and inside the organization and completes complex administrative tasks. She is from Sapulpa, Oklahoma.
Airport and Aviation Education Grants Administrator
Michelle Bouziden began working at the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in February 2015 and serves as the Airports and Aviation Education Grants Administrator.
As the Grants Administrator she is responsible for the management of grants awarded through the Commission’s Five-year Airport Construction Program, which directs approximately $18 million of federal, state and local funding each year for the construction, repair and maintenance of Oklahoma’s public-use, general aviation airports. Her duties include working with the community sponsors and consultants to ensure the grants are managed according to Oklahoma statute and that all grant assurances are met. She is also responsible for conducting financial audits once projects complete.
She also works with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Division of Capital Assets Management, Construction and Properties, on projects being handled through their respective departments. As the Aviation Education Program Grants Administrator, she assists organizations with payment processes in accordance with state statutes.
Michelle completed her Associates in Elementary Education in December 2014 from Rose State College and her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University in February 2017. She is also a Certified Procurement Officer for the State of Oklahoma.
Elizabeth Phillips is an Aviation student at the University of Oklahoma and is serving as the Aeronautics Commission Intern during the fall semester of the 2020 academic year.