Karen Feaster has come a long way since she started at Daytona Beach International Airport as an intern in 1992 — all the way to the top. Recently, the Volusia County Council confirmed Feaster as the new director in charge of the county-owned and -operated airport.
For Feaster, the promotion to the top spot caps off a 27-year career of increasing responsibility at the airport, with positions along the way that have included directorships of properties and finance, administration and grants, administration and projects, and airport services.
Feaster had served as deputy airport director for the past five years under the direction of the county’s director of aviation and economic resources, Rick Karl.
Karl has held the dual titles of aviation and economic-resources director as well as airport director for more than 10 years. But as Karl’s duties increasingly required him to focus on economic development and recruitment of aviation and aerospace firms, Feaster took on more and more responsibility for overseeing the airport operations.
And with all of those years of experience, Feaster has been directly responsible for virtually every aspect of airport management.
County Manager George Recktenwald, who selected Feaster for the top post, told council members during her June 16 confirmation hearing that Feaster has been doing an excellent job and is highly qualified to be director.
For his part, Karl said much of the airport’s success over the past decade has been the result of Feaster’s efforts.
“This is something that Karen has earned,” said Karl. “Everything that we’ve done over the past 10 years, all the successes, she has been largely responsible for.”
In the past 10 years alone, Feaster has managed more than $90 million in grant-funded airport projects and also has been instrumental in overseeing the design and construction of a $14 million terminal renovation project that’s currently underway.
Feaster graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical studies with management. After two years working for the airlines and in commercial property management, she began working at the airport in April 1992 as a volunteer intern. In January 1993, she started her part-time career at the airport as an operations agent.
Feaster has been certified through the American Association of Airport Executives as an accredited airport executive, an airport certified employee of operations and an international airport certified employee.
Even with all of the accolades and accomplishments, to Feaster, it’s all about the teamwork. She took the time to thank several people who she said have mentored her throughout her career.
“I appreciate the confidence. I couldn’t do it without the airport team,” she told the council. “There are a lot of dedicated, loyal people at the airport. So you should be proud of that. They’re excellent.”