Victor N. Bird
Victor Bird has been the Director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission since December 2002. The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission's mission is to promote aviation, 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. Bird’s emphases are 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 as many of the state’s 49 regional business airports jet-capable as possible; and encouraging public-private partnerships to promote the aerospace industry.
Under his leadership, the Commission has partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration to improve the state’s airport planning process, becoming a model for other states around the country. For its efforts, the FAA in 2005 presented the Commission with an award recognizing the agency for its “outstanding contribution to the enhancement of aviation in Oklahoma.” Bird was instrumental in the formation of the governor’s Aerospace Task Force in 2004 which resulted in several recommendations to ensure the viability and growth of the state’s aerospace industry. In 2006, he received the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Oklahoma Association for Career and Technical Education for meritorious contributions to the improvement, promotion, development and progress of career and technology education in Oklahoma.
Bird was the driving force behind the passage of several pieces of legislation designed to strengthen the state’s aerospace industry. The most significant was House Bill 3239, also known as the Aerospace Industry Engineer Work Force Bill, which provided new engineers with a $5,000 state tax credit for choosing to work for an Oklahoma aerospace company. The hiring companies also received tax credits for hiring those engineers. This was the only work force legislation passed in 2008, and it is the only legislation of this nature currently in the U.S. In 2004 Bird played a key role in the passage of House Bill 1577, which essentially exempted all Oklahoma aerospace companies from collecting sales taxes from all transactions associated with the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft. Before the bill’s passage, only larger companies enjoyed the exemption.
In addition to HB 3239 and HB 1577, Bird led the push to get HB 3098, the Aerospace Development Act of 2008, passed and signed into law. This measure transferred two key aerospace programs to the Aeronautics Commission: the Center for Aerospace Supplier Quality and the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute. Both programs are critical in the state’s efforts to create more aerospace-related jobs and provide a credentialed work force for Oklahoma’s aerospace industry. He also convinced legislators to pass HB 2501, which amended the Aircraft Dealers Protection Act. HB 2501 removed barriers to aviation manufacturers entering into dealership and service center agreements with Oklahoma aviation businesses. Bird was also instrumental in getting HB 2919, the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act, passed and signed into law in 2010. This law protects the lives of those who use the state’s public-use airports and military bases by regulating the construction of incompatible structures near those facilities.
Bird was named the recipient of the 2009 General Thomas P. Stafford Award. The award, named after Oklahoma native and retired astronaut Gen. Tom Stafford, recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the Oklahoma aerospace industry and who honors the pioneering spirit of Gen. Stafford. In 2010 the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association recognized Bird with one of its highest honors, the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Jr. Award, for his achievements in public policy that have advanced aviation and aerospace.
Before his appointment to the Aeronautics Commission, Bird was an attorney and veteran of state government. He served five years as an attorney with the Oklahoma State University Board of Regents and spent 12 years in the Attorney General’s office, ending his tenure as chief of the Civil Division. In 2010, Bird served as chair for the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the first Oklahoman to hold that post in the history of the association, and served as regional director for NASAO's Southwest Region. He served on Gov. Mary Fallin’s Aerospace Transition Working Group, the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development and the University of Oklahoma's aviation advisory board. He also served on the board of directors for the Defense Industry Alliance. Bird earned his juris doctorate and bachelor’s degree from The University of Tulsa.
Grayson Ardies has been working for the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission since August 2009. He started 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 $18 million of federal, state, and local funding per year. He was responsible for program managers that conduct airport inspections, airspace zoning reviews in accordance with the State’s Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act, implement the state’s anemometer tower marking law, and provide assistance to airports with their development, operation, and technical documents. Ardies was named Deputy Director in January of 2019 and continues in his role of overseeing the Airport Division’s responsibilities. Grayson 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 at 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.
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.
Communications and Government Affairs Liaison
Sandra Shelton joined the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission in April 2016 as the Aviation Education Coordinator & Government Affairs Liaison. She assumed the responsibilities as the Liaison to Public & Government Affairs a few months later adding the Public Information Officer component at that time. 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).