GREEN Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communication Officer for the Akron-Canton Airport Kristie Van Auken is moving on after almost 20 years of service.
Van Auken started at the airport in 1996 when she was hired by late airport director Fred Krum. At that time, Akron-Canton didn't have a marketing position, and Van Auken was brought in to light a spark and bring more attention to the airport.
"It was a new direction for the airport to help it grow," said Van Auken, who added most airports at that time also didn't have marketing positions.
She remained in marketing until 2008 when she became the airport's vice president and chief marketing and communication officer.
Van Auken said her greatest accomplishment was bringing new air service to the airport against the odds.
"I had amazing support from the board of trustees, the administration and the community," Van Auken said. "I had 20 wonderful years at that airport."
She is proud that Akron-Canton has become a better airport with more services, and has had a great economic impact on the area.
The airport currently has five airliners: United, Southwest, Delta, American Airlines and Allegiant. Van Auken said the airport continues to grow and is secure, and in a great place moving forward.
"I loved getting up to go to work every day," Van Auken said. "There always was a great challenge, but there were great rewards."
Van Auken and her family are moving to North Carolina where she will become the vice president of communications and community affairs at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. She said the airport is a much bigger playground for her with nine airliners and 10 million plus customers each year.
"The community there is on fire," Van Auken said. "It is really a dynamic community and a great place to raise a family."
The communications position she applied for fielded 177 applicants from across the country.
"It is very humbling that I was the one selected," Van Auken said.
She said her goal will be to focus on the customer experience rather than recruiting airliners like she did at Akron-Canton Airport.
"I am excited for the change in atmosphere and the challenge of going deeper," Van Auken said. "There is a really motivated leadership team there and they are making a difference down there like I have up here."
While she begins her new adventure, she said she will really miss the Green community. She will be moving with her husband Mark, who is an engineer, and their two children. She said they will be back to visit.
Van Auken grew up in Lansing, Mich., where she met her husband before moving to Akron. Growing up, she had no idea she would ever be involved with anything related to airports.
Van Auken said she will miss her friends, the community, Green Local Schools, Acme and Akron General the most. She said the education experience in Green for her two children was amazing and so supportive.
She is set to begin her new position Aug. 8.
"It’s been a wonderful career, but I am not done yet," Van Auken said.