AAAE Foundation Announces First Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship Recipient

June 8, 2022

The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Foundation announced Wednesday, June 8, Kailyn Hyman as the inaugural recipient of the AAAE Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship. Hyman is a rising junior at Hampton University in Virginia, majoring in aviation and air transportation. The announcement was made at the 94th Annual AAAE Conference & Exposition in Seattle.

The scholarship was created as part of AAAE’s ongoing efforts to expand support for future aviation leaders through foundation scholarships and will be awarded annually to an ethnic minority student (Black or African American; Hispanic or Latino; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders) enrolled in a college or university aviation program with a junior, senior or graduate student standing and a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

“Throughout middle and high school, I aspired to do something different,” said Hyman, who earlier this week began a summer internship at NASA. “I found out that African American women are severely underrepresented in the field of aviation, and that fact is what drew me towards it. I want to change aviation's face and inspire kids, especially black girls, to do the same."

AAAE First Vice Chair Perry Miller, A.A.E, I.A.P., president & CEO at Richmond International Airport in Virginia led a collation of aviation leaders in raising funds and awareness for this effort.

“The support of our donors is absolutely vital to the success the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship, and to our ability to make a positive and lasting impact in aviation,” Miller said. “We are grateful for the substantial commitment both financially by our donors and of time by our steering committee.”

The AAAE Foundation thanks the following major gift donors and numerous individual contributors for their generous support of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion scholarship:

DE&I Scholarship Founder - $15,000

ACS Firm

DE&I Scholarship Leaders - $10,000

Benjamin R. DeCosta, A.A.E.

HMSHost Corporation

ProDIGIQ, Inc.


DE&I Scholarship Advocates - $5,000

AAAE Executive Management Team


Burns & McDonnell

Oris and Sylvia Dunham, Jr.

Elevated Facility Services Group

Great Lakes Chapter AAAE

Gresham Smith

Northeast Chapter AAAE

Northwest Chapter AAAE

South Central Chapter AAAE

Southeast Chapter AAAE

Southwest Chapter AAAE

Vanderlande Industries, Inc.

DE&I Scholarship Friends - $3,500

C&S Companies


DEI Scholarship supporter ACS Firm highlighted the importance of the initiative. “Inclusivity and the development of a diverse workforce for the future is at the center of our work at ACS Firm,” said CEO Eric Mercado, C.M., ACE. “My personal hope is that our Founder-level contribution will allow recipients to struggle less as they work to establish themselves in the aviation industry.”

Arpit Malaviya, CEO of ProDIGIQ, Inc. added “I am grateful for the ability to contribute to such a noble cause. On behalf of the entire ProDIGIQ team, we feel honored and are happy to support the next generation of aviation leaders.”

RS&H CEO David Sweeney noted that “RS&H is proud to contribute to this scholarship that aspires to support and welcome more diverse voices into the future of aviation. By ensuring a strong pool of diverse talent, we can develop creative and forward-thinking solutions to solve the biggest challenges facing us.”

The effort to raise adequate funds to award a $5,000 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship in perpetuity continues.