2023 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Joseph G. Marana, A.A.E.

Dec. 19, 2023
Joseph G. Marana, A.A.E., Allen County Airport Authority Director of Operations & Facilities, Fort Wayne

Joseph G. Marana, A.A.E., serves as the Director of Operations & Facilities for the Allen County Airport Authority in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Over his 12-year career at the airport authority, Marana has earned three promotions in recognition of his knowledge, work ethic, and achievements.

Marana's journey at the airport authority began as an operations specialist, but his rapid ascent led him to positions of increasing responsibility, including operations supervisor and operations manager, overseeing the operations staff. Today, he holds the role of director of operations and facilities, where his professional growth is mirrored in the airport's successes, the relationships he has nurtured with his colleagues, and his contributions to numerous projects.

Apart from his professional role, Marana is deeply engaged in the Fort Wayne community. Following his move to Fort Wayne in 2011, he actively sought opportunities to become an integral part of the city. He joined Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI), a young professionals' organization focused on attracting, retaining, and developing emerging talent in Northeast Indiana. Marana's commitment led to his graduation from YLNI's Leadership Institute. In 2016, he was selected for Greater Fort Wayne Inc's Leadership Fort Wayne program, designed to encourage community leaders to drive positive change and engage in various aspects of the city while fostering professional development. Furthermore, Joseph has dedicated his time to Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana, offering mentorship and guidance to students in the program. He presently serves as the Vice President of Blue Jacket, Inc., a local nonprofit with a mission to provide training and opportunities to individuals facing employment barriers.

Throughout his tenure at the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority, Marana has achieved numerous milestones, significantly impacting both the airport and the local community. Under his leadership, the operations team at Fort Wayne International Airport achieved an outstanding nine consecutive years of zero discrepancy Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety inspections, demonstrating a profound commitment to safety and operational excellence.

"I have always been driven by the opportunity to be part of a team and being a productive member of that team,” Marana said. “Those successes have really pushed me to seek more opportunities in our industry."


Marana also takes charge of the Airport Authority's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and has successfully secured additional funding beyond the standard federal allocation of approximately $2.5 million annually. This extra funding has allowed him to lead several major airport projects. Notable among these projects was the reconstruction of Runway 14-32, the airport's secondary runway, originally scheduled for a three-year construction period due to budget constraints. Marana's collaboration with the FAA resulted in funding that enabled the completion of the project within a single construction season, boosting economic growth in the region while minimizing operational disruptions.

In 2015, he oversaw the development of the airport authority's Fixed Base Operator (FBO) building, Fort Wayne Aero Center, using a design-build model, a new approach for the Airport Authority. The project was completed both within budget and ahead of schedule, underscoring his ability to manage complex initiatives efficiently.

Currently, Marana is spearheading Project Gateway, the largest airport project in Fort Wayne International Airport's history. This project encompasses the West Terminal Expansion, completed in May 2023, and the East Terminal Expansion, commencing in June 2023. Both expansion projects are integral to transforming Fort Wayne International Airport into a modern facility capable of accommodating sustained growth for years to come. Marana secured two rounds of funding through the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – $14.8 million in 2022 and $8 million in 2023, making Fort Wayne International Airport one of the few airports nationwide to receive ATP funding for two consecutive years.

"The biggest impact I have been able to make is to my airport and community. I’m very proud to be a part of it,” Marana said. "The best part about our industry is that it is all about the customer and the people we serve. I love this part of the job and I hope my passion for serving our customers is adopted in my organization and by others in our industry."