Jim Crites has a Zen-like philosophy of balance that informs all he does. It led him to leave the Marine Corps to spend more time with family and landed him at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), where he has influenced expansion, sustainability, maintenance and every other aspect as executive vice president of operations.
"We never look at things from one dimension or a single perspective," says Crites. "What are the needs of the people? How do we work to accomplish more than one stakeholder's goal?"
That spirit was reflected in the Federal Aviation Administration's successful nomination of Crites to be a White House "Champion of Change" last year. The FAA stated, "James Crites is a visionary whose tireless advocacy and outreach efforts in support of NextGen transcend the interests of DFW."
Crites' team worked with the FAA, NASA and myriad other entities to make DFW a primary test and implementation site for NextGen components, such as detection systems for potential runway conflicts, flight-path optimization and surveillance for global flight paths.
The focus on system balance informed Crites' early embrace of concepts such as asset management and high-tech tools for construction. "Years before others coined the word 'sustainability,' Jim instructed teams at DFW that they were to think about impacts on our grandchildren as we planned our work," says Ginger Evans, Parsons Corp. senior vice president.
"It is hard to focus on just one area for which to praise Jim," says Deborah McElroy, interim president of Airports Council International-North America.