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. Ardies was also listed in the Power 15 List in Aviation and Aeronautics in Oklahoma by the Journal Record in 2020.
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 of Staff, Chief Financial 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.
Chris is responsible for directing the personnel and operations functions of the agency along with planning and directing the fiscal operations and financial accounting functions including budgeting, auditing, investments, cash management, and procurement.
Airports Division Manager
Nick Young was named Airports Division Manager for the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in August 2021. Young joined the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in October 2019 as an Aviation Program Manager.
As head of the Division he will be responsible for the agency’s many airport programs including the 5010 airport safety and standards inspection program at Oklahoma’s public-use, general aviation airports as well the airport pavement management program. Young will also oversee the development and execution of the agency’s 5-year Airport Construction Program (ACP) which provides federal and state grant funding for airport infrastructure and updates to the Oklahoma Airport System Plan (OASP). Other activities within the Division include airspace zoning reviews and related permitting authority in accordance with the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act (APPPA), overseeing military training airspace regulations within Title 17, airport grant administration, and outreach for operational/technical support at Oklahoma’s 108 airports within the public airport system.
Prior to joining the Commission, he served as an Airport Operations Officer for Max Westheimer Airport 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).
Government Relations and Communications Manager
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 was promoted to Government Relations and Communications Manager in 2021 and 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.
Kelly Fincannon, PE
Chief Airport Engineer
Kelly Fincannon began working for the Aeronautics Commission in September of 2021 as the agency’s Chief Airport Engineer. His focus is on airport planning, design, construction, and project management with a mission to provide continued development and improvement of the Oklahoma Airport System, working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, airports, consultants, and construction contractors.
His 38 years of related work experience includes office management, staff management, regional financial oversight, business development, client negotiation, project management, engineering design, bidding services, construction administration, construction observation, grant administration, master planning, and capital improvement plans. His airport experience spans civil, military, commercial, and general aviation airports as well as other civil infrastructure projects including highways, streets, drainage, water lines, sewer lines, and water resources projects. He holds professional registrations in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
Kelly earned an MS and BS in Civil Engineering from Oklahoma State University. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Oklahoma Airport Operators Association.
Benyamin Naghavi, PE
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.
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).
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program Manager
Doug joined the Commission staff in January of 2022 and brings 26 years of law enforcement experience, with 17 years as a first line supervisor responsible for training, supervisory, management and administrative tasks, including project development of the former RCPD Underwater Rescue/Recovery (Dive) Team, Patrol Rifle Program, In-House Rangemaster Development Program, School Safety and Workplace Violence Program, Initial Ft. Riley RCPD Range project, and RCPD small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Program. He served 23 years in the U. S. Navy (Reserve) as a “Deckplate Leader” with increasing levels of responsibility for training, supervisory, administrative, mentoring, and technical expertise as a first-line supervisor and upper-level non-commissioned officer primarily in the area of Firearms Training and Anti-Terrorism / Force Protection Physical Security Procedures.
Doug works directly with users of UAS in the state, FAA, and other state/local government agencies and administer's the Commission’s UAS program. He also conducts research related to other states’ rules and regulations for UAS and determines how Oklahoma can best position itself within the industry. He is the primary contact point to develop/update a UAS strategic plan for the state and provides recommendations to other state agencies or local governments on UAS operations, regulations, and policies.
Doug holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Central Christian College, McPherson, Kansas.
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 $25 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 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 Aerospace and Aviation Education Grants Administrator, she serves as a resource to organizations interested in the program, assists with processing grant applications and works to administer payments in accordance with state statute. She also serves as the agencies Administrative Rules and DBE Liaison. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University and an Associates in Elementary Education from Rose State College. She is also a Certified Procurement Officer for the State of Oklahoma.
Paula Kedy, M.A. Ed.
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.
Henil is a full-time Junior enrolled at the University of Oklahoma School of Aviation pursuing a bachelor’s in aviation management and professional flying. He is was selected by the Commission to serve as the Spring 2022 Aviation Intern. He is pursuing his instrument flight rating and was on the President’s and Dean’s Honor Roll from Fall 2019-Fall 2020 for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He believes being a South Asian Student Association representative and an active member of Young Jains of America has afforded him many philanthropic opportunities, most notably, as an ambassador volunteer for the DFW International Airport.
He is passionate about contributing his experience to OAC to innovate plans and projects that will fulfill the agency's long-term goals.