2017 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Samantha J. Stedford, C.M.

Nov. 3, 2017

Samantha J. Stedford, C.M.
Age: 36
Manager of Business Diversity and Outreach
Pittsburgh International Airport

  • Alma Mater: Penn State for Undergrad, Robert Morris University for MBA
  • What is your dream job?: Yoga instructor at a tropical resort
  • Who has impacted your career the most?: My husband, Gino
  • If I could go anywhere, it would be: Dubai
  • If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead: Guy Raz (journalist and radio host)
  • Favorite airport restaurant/eatery: Bar Symon 

When Samantha J. Stedford, C.M. started her professional career, aviation wasn’t initially part of her path to success.

She worked at a non-profit group in Massachusetts for about a month before deciding to move along to something else. She moved back home when a job ad changed her direction in life.

“I was looking for a ‘for now’ job and I saw an ad in the paper that said ‘free travel’ and I thought ‘OK, that’s a nice for now job that I get to travel for free,” she said. “So I started working for PSA Airlines that was operating as US Airways Express and that was it. I just immediately fell in love with the whole industry.”

Stedford is the manager of business diversity and outreach for Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). In this role, she works extensively in the community to stimulate opportunities for minority and women owned businesses in airport contracts.

Stedford is instrumental in implementing the Ready for Takeoff program, an initiative to introduce underprivileged students to professions in the aviation field. Through the program, eighth grade students from a city school in a primarily black neighborhood visit the airport to job shadow professionals in various areas, including airlines, air traffic control and law enforcement. The goal of the program is to expose these students to opportunities in aviation and pursue these opportunities when entering the workforce.

Stedford serves as the airport’s ADA Coordinator, striving to ensure that all customers have an accessible and enjoyable experience at PIT. She is currently working with Carnegie Mellon University to find innovative ways to improve the experience of airport passengers with disabilities.

One collaboration involves developing a mobile application to improve accessibility of the airport for people who are visually impaired. Another project will improve efficiencies in the wheelchair transport of passengers requesting special assistance, optimizing wheelchair escort movements and reducing wait times for passengers.

Stedford is involved in the Robert Morris University Women’s Leadership & Mentorship Program and was selected as the 2016-2017 Outstanding Master of Business Administration.