By Gail M. Brown
The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) Board of Commissioners’ is pleased to announce the induction of Commissioner Dr. Sylvia Y. Stewart into the prestigious Airport Minority Advisory Council’s (AMAC) Hall of Fame.
“The AMAC Hall of Fame award is given to individuals who have made profound contributions toward achieving AMAC’s goals and supporting their mission to support and develop business and professional diversity in the airport industry,” said JMAA Board of Commissioners Chairman Dr. Glenda Glover. “We are pleased and proud that our fellow commissioner has been selected for this honor. Her support of this important program on the national level has significantly enhanced the benefits of JMAA’s Disadvantage Business Enterprises (DBE) program and the direct benefits it provides to JMAA’s airports and our community.”
Stewart was nominated for this honor by members of the airport minority business community and honored with the designation by the AMAC Board of Directors.
Stewart told The Mississippi Link that she was “completely overwhelmed” by the outstanding gesture. “I am sincerely honored that they (AMAC) would recognize me,” Stewart said.
Stewart said it has been “very lucrative for her educationally and a wonderful opportunity” to serve on the AMAC Board. When she joined the JMAA Board of Commissioners in 1997, she got involved with AMAC to see what opportunities for minority and women businesses were available that could benefit Jackson and Mississippi as a whole.
“We are glad she received such an honor,” said Dirk B. Vanderleest, JMAA’s CEO. “This is a reflection of her leadership and the leadership of the entire board. It is important to us here and to the state to have an AMAC Hall of Famer from Mississippi. You just don’t simply receive such an honor; a great deal of hard work goes along with it. She earned this recognition.”
According to released information, Stewart is entitled to this honor for her tireless dedication to AMAC. She has volunteered her time and applied her knowledge of the industry to a two-decade long, dedicated effort focused on ensuring that minority businesses were given opportunities to advance in the industry. She also ensured that they received recognition for their talents, skills and abilities.
During her many years of volunteer service on the JMAA Board of Commissioners, the Airports Council International – North America Commissioners Round Table and the AMAC Board of Directors, Stewart has been a driving force promoting DBE programs at airports nationwide.
She has supported industry forums dedicated to DBE program development. She has ensured that members of Congress and the leadership of federal regulatory agencies understand the economic benefits of DBE programs and support them with legislation and regulations.
As one of the most knowledgeable commissioners in the aviation industry, she is also a mentor to numerous individuals throughout all facets of the industry. Stewart has contributed to the overall success of the aviation industry and made certain that the goals and objectives of AMAC are at the forefront of every discussion.
“When I came aboard, the amount of exposure for minorities, particularly African-Americans, was limited at best, but the opportunities have grown through AMAC,” Stewart said. She was quick to clarify that these opportunities must not be misunderstood as set asides. “It is not a set aside; it indicates economic growth, meaning the exposure and opportunities have grown over the past 10-15 years,” she said.
Stewart said she has served on the Board of AMAC from a member all the way up to first vice chair.
She is humbled by the significance of the honor. “The award, itself – a glass tower-like figure – was so heavy that I could barely carry it,” she said with a hint of laughter.