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HIGHFILL -- Regional airport board members found their next executive director.

The board members conducted final interviews Thursday with three candidates to find a replacement for Scott Van Laningham, the current executive director and CEO. The candidates were Aaron Burkes, Steve Hennigan and Kelly Johnson.

"It was a long day of good discussions and they came back with a decision," Van Laningham said.

The board offered the job to Burkes, Van Laningham said. Burkes is president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority.

Van Laningham said he had spoken with Burkes who accepted the offer. The sides are negotiating the salary and benefits for the position.

Burkes is expected to start Nov. 1., Van Laningham said.

More than 30 people applied for the position. The board interviewed six candidates a few weeks ago and narrowed it to the final three.

Hennigan is an assistant general manager for operations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Johnson is the airport director at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.

The board hired Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search firm, to recruit Van Laningham's replacement.

The airport began succession planning in October. Russell Reynolds came on board in November.

The regional airport has 47 employees and a 2017 budget of about $24 million. Van Laningham makes just more than $200,000 per year.

The average annual salary is about $250,000 for the similar position at 10 airports, including Little Rock; Tulsa, Okla.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Omaha, Neb.

Russell Reynolds is expected to recommend to the board how duties will be divvied among top management and what the organizational chart will look like.

Hiring a chief executive is a priority so several others can be hired for leadership positions, including a chief finance officer, a chief operations officer and possibly a chief business development officer, which would be a new position.

The board is paying Russell Reynolds about $200,000.

NW News on 09/28/2018

Print Headline: Regional airport names Burkes new leader

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