Leaders to the nth Degree

Harbinger, bellwhether, counselor, luminary, maestro ... all are synonyms for the term leader and all describe the 2008 winners of the Ground Support Leaders of the Year awards.


Four years ago Ground Support Worldwide magazine realized it was time to show its support to the industry by recognizing a leader of the year (no, it was never called “Man” of the Year, as stated by some) and we took the next step by developing the “Ground Support Leader of the Year Award.” This year, recognizing there are leaders in several aspects of our industry, we expanded the award categories to include leaders in the areas of safety, environment, engineering and processes.

If Henry Ford could have joined us at the Ground Support Leaders of the Year awards reception last month in Dallas, he would have met five individuals in our industry who, because they never did take their eyes off of their goals, became the leaders they are today. I once heard someone say, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with what you know and it’s your attitude at the beginning of a task that determines success or failure.”

Each with their own style and all with their “can-do” attitudes, read for yourself why the following individuals were honored.

Green/Environmental Leader of the Year Award — for a person or a company that has introduced environmentally friendly equipment or processes.

Jody Lonergan began her career at Continental Airlines as an executive assistant and through the last 18 years has worked her way up through contracts and corporate GSE within the Airport Services Division.
Lonergan was chosen to receive the “Green/Environmental” award based on her knowledge of the environmental importance of implementing alternative fuels and the success achieved in reducing emissions.

Lonergan’s first contribution to the green movement at Continental was with her involvement in the Texas CIP and California MOU programs working as an analyst on the first inventory and emission calculations for the ATA negotiations.

Lonergan became involved with the equipment side of the green movement in 2000 when the first technology demonstrations were taking place at IAH. She participated on the committees that selected the vehicles, batteries and chargers that Continental eventually purchased.

Continental was one of the last major airlines to adopt electric vehicles; they waited and watched the technology evolve and observed the lessons other airlines were learning in their adoption of electric units. As the technology matured and electric vehicles were proven, Continental jumped in with both feet.

With her promotion to manager of corporate GSE for Airport Services, Lonergan took on a more active role in planning and executing the program to reduce emissions at Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and many other smaller stations. It was her vision and drive that helped the company understand the need to use electric equipment to not only meet regulatory requirements, but exceed their standards due to the economic benefits realized by the use of electrics. “I’ll tell you, she is one of those workers where you either get moving or you get out of the way. She is a real go-getter. She has taken an active role in helping Continental become a breeder airline,” Dave Southern, senior director of airport operations, Continental Airlines says. “Two words describe Jody, she’s got vision and she’s got a lot of spunk … she really takes [her job] passionately.”

Under Lonergan’s leadership, Continental Airlines has converted almost 600 bag tugs, belt loaders and fork lifts to electric to save countless gallons of fuel and tons of emissions. In addition, Continental has developed partnerships in the industry to push the limits of the available technology to make the use of electric not just cost effective, but profitable.

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