Kansas City Announces Melissa Cooper as First Female Aviation Director

Nov. 6, 2023

Through Cooper’s career of more than 25 years she worked her way up through her field and the Aviation Department. She is the first woman to fill this role in the history of the City’s Aviation Department. In December 2021, Cooper was promoted to Deputy Director of Aviation over Properties & Commercial Development, a position where she helped launch Kansas City’s $1.5 billion new airport terminal at Kansas City International Airport.Cooper is also the first female Airport Manager of the Downtown Charles B. Wheeler downtown airport. A position she held from 2017 until her promotion to Deputy Aviation Director. Cooper’s first position at the Kansas City International Airport in the 1990s was for a private airline company as a customer service agent. Through her hard work and experience she was promoted into a supervisor role, and ultimately into airport management where she is thriving.“The opening of our brand-new Kansas City International Airport terminal was a transformational project for our community which took the strong leadership of many, with Melissa Cooper playing an integral role,” Mayor Lucas said. “As Kansas City month-over-month breaks passenger traveler records and secures more flights to more places both domestically and internationally, I am proud to welcome Melissa—who makes history as Kansas City’s first ever female Aviation Director—to lead the Department into the future as it continues to serve the flying public across our region. Ms. Cooper’s 17 years of work at the Aviation Department, most recently as Deputy Director of Aviation and Airport Manager of the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, will help her hit the ground running, working to continue growing Kansas City International’s success.”“30 years ago, I experienced my first pilot introductory flight at the Downtown Airport, sparking my love of aviation.  I have been very fortunate to foster this passion with a variety of jobs, training, and experiences within the aviation field, preparing me for the roles and responsibilities of the Director of Aviation.  I am truly honored, as a lifetime Kansas City resident, to serve our community and to lead the men and women of the Aviation Department, in pursuit of a first-class airport experience for our business and leisure travelers arriving to and departing from Kansas City,” Aviation Director Melissa Cooper said.In 2023, Cooper was awarded the “Women Who Move the Nation” award by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials. In 2019, she was named the WTS Greater Kansas City Chapter’s “Woman of the Year.” Cooper is currently serving as the Bombardier Safety Standdown Advisory Council Chair. In the past she served as the co-chair of the MARC Aviation Subcommittee, President of the Great Lakes Region of American Association of Airport Executives. In June of 2024, Cooper will begin serving on the National American Association of Airport Executives Board of Directors. She is also recognized as an Accredited Airport Executive through the American Association of Airport Executives.“Director Cooper has already demonstrated and proven her ability to lead and manage our team within the aviation department and has been instrumental in the successful launch of our world class new airport terminal,” City Manager Brian Platt said.Cooper was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. She will begin serving as the Director of Aviation on November 6, 2023. She holds a Master of Science degree in aviation safety and a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation technology both from University of Central Missouri.