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Atlanta Mayor Reed names Carol Tomé to chair search for new airport manager

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has tapped Carol Tomé to chair the search committee for a new general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Tomé, chief financial officer for the Home Depot, is one of the most powerful women executives in the country and the highest-ranking Home Depot executive who has worked for every leadership team at the home improvement company, starting in 1995 working for co-founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank.

Reed announced that Tomé would lead the search for a new aviation commission at the quarterly meeting, which is closed to the public, of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, the high-level group of business leaders who serve as an advisory cabinet for Mayor Reed and previously played the same role for former Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Ben DeCosta, current general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson, will be leaving at the end of June.

Reed said after the meeting that he and Tomé are putting together a search committee of between nine and 11 members, a group that will be announced later this week. The city also is looking to work with a search firm, preferably on a pro-bono basis.

But Reed said that the city would hire a firm because he was not going to let the airport search languish because of the need to have someone overseeing the airport.

“I was very comfortable until Mario Diaz left to go to Houston,” Reed said. Diaz had been the second in command at Hartsfield-Jackson and could have run the airport on an interim basis. But when he was offered the top position at the Houston Airport System, he resigned as Atlanta’s deputy general manager.

“This job is a highly coveted position, and there are only about 15 individuals with the experience (needed to run) the most important airport in the country,” Reed said. If Atlanta considered people beyond those 15 names, Reed said it would be laughed at in national airport circles.

When asked about who would be on the search committee, Reed said he would be talking to Tomé in the next day or two to finalize the list.

But when asked, Reed said a Delta Air Lines representative would no be named to the search committee. Delta is the largest carrier, by far, serving Hartsfield-Jackson.

“I think we have made the decision not to have Delta be on the search team,” Reed said, explaining that then there would be the issue of representation from the other airlines.

But Reed added that he and Delta CEO Richard Anderson “have been working very well together and communicate on a regular basis.”

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Burroughston Broch June 1, 2010 11:26 pm

    What possible legitimate reason would lead an experienced, reputable search firm to work pro bono? The answer is a quid pro quo arrangement in which the firm does this highly visible search for free, anticipating many future engagements with high fees and no competition. That’s a problem that has plagued City government in the past, and I am sorry to see Mayor Reed going down this path. I hope that he reconsiders. As the City has learned so many times in the past, you pay for what you get.Report

  2. Steve June 2, 2010 2:17 pm

    The legitimate reason is that the company can say they found the gm for the largest airport in the world. You conspiracy people drive me bananas.Report


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