Houston Aviation Director Named Public Official of the Year
March 9, 2014

Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz was named the Public Official of the Year at the third annual University of Houston Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program ceremony held March 7 at the University of Houston Hilton Waldorf Astoria.

The award highlights the work of Houston public officials whose accomplishments may not make the evening news, yet whose tireless work ensures that the public’s everyday needs are addressed and the public good is served. 

“The Houston Airport System is working extremely hard to establish itself as a “high performance organization,” capable of anticipating the needs of the customers and then turning those expectations into reality,” Diaz says. “I am extremely proud to say that throughout 2013, the 1,300 employees that make up the Houston Airport System made incredible strides in that regard and this honor is a direct reflection of their hard work and commitment.” 

As Director of the Houston Airport System (HAS), Diaz oversees George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), William P. Hobby (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD). Before arriving in Houston in 2010, Diaz served at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL), John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International (EWR) and Teterboro (TEB). Diaz is a graduate of Rutgers University and a licensed pilot with instrument certification. 

Since his arrival in 2010, Diaz has enjoyed numerous successes in regards to enhancing air service for passengers in the Houston region and positioning Houston as a leading global gateway. Diaz was instrumental in the effort to establish regional international flight service at Hobby Airport, a goal that will be realized in early 2016 when Southwest Airlines begins flying international flights in Houston. He also welcomed the first Airbus A380 aircraft to operate regularly scheduled service in Texas and played a key role in the arrival of international air carriers Turkish Airlines, Air China and Korean Air. 

As a teenager Diaz became fascinated with aviation and found early exposure to the industry was critical to his success in building a career path in aviation. He had a vision to launch a program that would build a stable pipeline of skilled workers by exposing young people to careers in aviation and aerospace early on. The HAS Aviation club, which was launched in 2012, already has more than 60 members from Houston-area high schools and the program has awarded more than $70,000 worth of scholarships to graduating seniors. 

Diaz earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in finance from Rutgers Graduate School of Business Administration in New Jersey.