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#SPA80for80: Jodi McCarthy, SPA/MPA ’10

Jodi McCarthy
From left to right: Acting Deputy Chief Operating Officer Randy Park, ATO Chief Operating Officer Teri Bristol, Jodi S. McCarthy, and FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta at a recent FAA award ceremony.

Jodi S. McCarthy, director of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Air Traffic Control Facilities Directorate (ATCF), is an exemplary leader. She is responsible for a number of high profile, high impact, and politically charged projects within the FAA. 

Her primary endeavor of leading National Airspace System (NAS) Facility Sustainment efforts is a major challenge because a tremendous amount of resources are necessary to maintain and sustain the complex, interdependent, and aging NAS infrastructure system of over 30,000 staffed and unstaffed facilities.

With an annual budget of approximately $400M, Jodi and her team are charged with addressing a nearly $2B backlog in sustainment needs. Under her supervision, the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) experienced a reorganization that added four groups from other service units and 40 additional employees to ATCF. She developed and implemented integration and communications plans that allowed her to build on existing strengths and assess development opportunities while gaining efficiency and creating a unified team focused on agency goals. 

She also combined the group's sustainment programs to develop a strategic "get-well" plan, eliminate redundant processes, and improve the communication links between the ATO and other Service Units. As a result of her actions and thought-out approach, the realignment of ATCF was seamless. Once the organization was aligned, Jodi changed the conversation around FAA infrastructure through careful prioritization of sustainment projects across all ATCF groups. She communicated and strategized plans across organizations and began tackling systemic problems in a clear, efficient manner. 

Under her guidance, what began as a ten-year "get-well" initiative for the alignment and planning of ATCF projects and objectives between adjacent organizations grew into a Sustainment Strategic Plan recognized by the Vice President of Technical Operations and extended to the entire service unit. She delivered a product that grew into a Technical Operations-wide program that reduces risk, saves costs, and improves efficiency across the agency.

To maintain the integrity of information flows over such a large range of projects, Jodi also coordinated with each of the ATCF groups and ensured her team of employees felt a sense of inclusion and ownership in the success of the directorate. She actively spoke about the new ATCF structure across all levels and lines of business within the FAA which resulted in business and performance goal discussions and brainstorming sessions about measures of success for the directorate. Within the ATO and FAA she also helps shape the conversation as a member of the Capital Investment Team Acquisition Workforce Council, Senior Executive Council on Greening Initiatives, and Department of Transportation's Crisis Management and Continuity of Operations cadres.

Through her ability to lead and rally people, Jodi created a team with a strong sense of pride and connectedness to one other and their work. Her commitment to service-above-self impacts her peers and employees because she holds herself accountable to the same behavior and high standards she asks of them.

She has built the level of professional trust with her team and the FAA necessary to address and solve problems, invest in the future of her team, and position the agency for future success. As a leader, she is building a focused way forward while developing employees who will do the same.

Her leadership has resulted in more strategic and focused dialogue and decision-making, which are producing clear priorities and positive results for ATCF. And her impressive work was recognized earlier this year with the ATO Superior Leadership Award.


"My experience at the School of Public Affairs Key Executive Program prepared me to lead during challenging times, and cemented my belief in the importance of public service."