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The Prime Directive

Ann Testa named new Federal Security Director at George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Houston Airport System
April 26, 2010

© Houston Airport System
Ann Testa brings 27 years worth of military experience to her new position

Ann M. Testa, does not present an imposing presence, as she strolls through the cavernous yet crowded terminals at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), but she’s packing an impressive resume, crammed with decades of experience, profiles in courage, and a determination to make a difference in her new role, as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Security Director (FSD), at the big airport.

It’s a big title, a big job, with huge responsibilities. Testa will supervise more than 900 officers responsible for maintaining aviation security, protecting passengers, cargo, and the public, at the 8th busiest airport in the United States.

‘I definitely feel like I’m the right person for the job because I am a strong leader and I have a lot of experience,” says Testa whose temperament was forged under fire.

She was one of the few females who made a career in the United States Air Force during the 70’s, “I had to prove myself over, and over, and over again,” she says and remembers it as a difficult period.

After 27 years, she emerged as a Colonel and a role model for both men and women. She considers team building one of her strengths.

She has held command five times at all levels – in major locations – including Group Commander at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan and Wing Commander at Hickam Air Force Base in Oahu, Hawaii.

“In many cases our TSA officers don’t remember 9-1-1, they’re too young to remember 9-1-1, and what it meant to the nation,” says Testa. “They don’t totally understand their roles,” and she has spent a lot of time talking to them about just how critical they are to security and protecting the country.

Every security checkpoint at IAH has a separate team, working in shifts and serving as the gate-keepers between the so called non-sterile and sterile side of the airport. Their job is to keep the sterile side free of weapons, banned substances, and those intent on committing acts of terror.

Testa’s team is armed with an arsenal of security technology; from the hand-held scanning wands, to the soon-to-be installed Millimeter Wave and Backscatter Imaging Technology – better known as the full body scanners. Testa knows that opinions concerning privacy and the new devices are still divided.

“We have privacy filters over the face, the images are not stored or transmitted in any way, shape, or form and the viewing room is in a remote location behind a locked door,” she explains, “we’re striving for even greater privacy filters as the technology evolves.” The devices are scheduled to be installed at IAH and at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), over the next few months.

She’s a private pilot, originally from Massachusetts, who knew it was time to take off the uniform and retire; but after finding herself in the Pentagon when it was targeted on 9-1-1, she decided to embrace a new mission of securing the Nation's borders in U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and now, aviation security in the Transportation Security Administration.

She has set out to build and lead a team that will partner with the airport, air carriers and others, to create a secure environment for IAH. It is a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week job and she says, “I have told my people that I will be here in the evenings and on weekends, because they’re working, so it’s kind of nice to see the leader walk through.”

She’s not imposing, but she is impressive.

Copyright © 2010 - Houston Airport System

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