Michael McDougall, Florida Department of Transportation

Where do you work and what is your role?
I work for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as the Aviation Communications Manager for the Aviation Division. I am the Lead Editor of the Florida Flyer publication that FDOT publishes quarterly covering airport news, developments, projects, personnel, and aviation highlights for the State of Florida. I am in charge of the state aviation awards program held annually at the Florida Airport’s Council (FAC) conference to honor the Aviation Professional of the Year, Distinguished Aviation Service, Commercial Service Airport of the Year, Commercial Service Airport Project of the Year, Non-Commercial Airport of the Year, and Non-Commercial Airport Project of the Year. I also oversee the Florida Airport Directory that is published annually at the beginning of each year; this includes information for all of Florida’s 129 public-use airports that pilots find valuable.I keep the Aviation Division’s website up to date. Furthermore, I review and approve the non-commercial public-use airport security plans and work with our local consultants Kimley-Horn on Airport Security Assessments.

Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Ohio and went to College in Chicago at Lewis University where I received my B.S. in Aviation Administration (2012) and my M.S. in Aviation Science and Transportation (2016). In the Beginning of 2013, shortly after graduating, I accepted a job offer to move down to Lake Charles, Louisiana to manage a public-use, non-commercial airport. It was an exciting opportunity to jump in and get my feet wet in a leadership position. During my tenure there, I proposed an airport marketing scheme to local leaders to rebrand the airport and change its name from the Southland Field to the Southland Executive Airport for better visibility and increase corporate traffic. In addition, while I was the manager, I oversaw a 5-year Airport Capital Improvement Plan worth 2.7 million get executed for future airport projects. This was also where I got introduced to their local Chamber of Commerce and learned the values that local Chambers provide to a community and also developed the ability to get out of my shell and make new connections that could be valuable for the development of the airport. Later in 2014, I moved over to Texas for an opportunity to manage a similar airport outside of San Antonio and in 2015 I jumped on the opportunity to move up to a bigger commercial service airport in Corpus Christi as an Airport Operations Specialist. I am also a Private Pilot and enjoy flying recreationally when time permits.

Where are you from?
Dayton, Ohio (AKA the Birthplace of Aviation). This is where Orville and Wilbur Wright were from and built the first successful airplane (The Wright B Flyer).

How did you end up in Tallahassee?
Towards the end of 2017, a job opportunity came about to move up in my career working in aviation in the Great State of Florida. The position qualifications fitted me perfectly and I had always wanted to live in Florida as I had vacationed a lot down here growing up. I applied, interviewed, and the rest was history. Previously living in Texas, I wanted to be slightly closer to family but still live in the south and close to the ocean.

What do you like about Tallahassee?
There are lots of organizations and non-profits for young professionals to get involved in and grow their career portfolio. It is relatively close the Gulf and decent beaches make for a good day trip to go boating or just relax. Florida State Athletics: I have transitioned into a Seminole fan since living here and have enjoyed watching, tailgating, and going to the Football, Basketball, and Baseball games. I enjoy participating in the Gulf Winds Track Club running races throughout the year, (I completed my first full marathon here in 2019) which had been a goal of mine and the amazing food festivals Tallahassee has to offer. Also, in northern Florida we can get a little Fall, Winter, and Spring which makes the weather enjoyable and a nice break from the heat. Tallahassee has some amazing breweries; Proof is my favorite. Also, I like the fact that Tallahassee is a growing city with something new and exciting being built here each year. Furthermore, I enjoy playing golf and there are so many great golf courses in the Capital City. Other hobbies I enjoy are biking, running, shooting sport clays at Talon, Midtown, College Town, and performances at Cascades Park.

What’s at the top of your Tallahassee bucket list?
To be accepted, learn, and graduate from the Chamber’s Leadership Tallahassee program and leave an inspiring legacy behind in all the young professionals and non-profit programs that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of here.

What is the best part about Access Tallahassee?
Before moving here, I did some research on what there is for young people to do in Tallahassee, how to get involved, clubs, meetups/interest groups, organizations, young professionals, etc. Access kept on coming up in the searches and the first week I moved here (January 2018) I attended the annual Access luncheon at Hotel Duval, liked the people I met, and was sold on the organization. I joined Access that evening.

The best part of Access is all the wonderful events that they host monthly (Coffee and Connections, Power Luncheons, Business and Brews after hours), making new connections, and learning/developing from some of the best and brightest in Tallahassee. Furthermore, I have seen how being active in Access leads to career growth and development opportunities as we grow older.

What’s your favorite Access event?
The Annual Access Luncheon. I have attended for 3 straight years and this “once a year event” has some wonderful guest speakers. Each luncheon I learned something about Tallahassee that I did not know about.

What other organizations are you involved in?
Tallahassee Network of Young Professionals – Board member (Past Golden Ace’s Chair)
Grow Tallahassee – Member (Economic Development Non-profit organization)
Second Harvest – Volunteer (Helped out during the COVID-19 crisis)
American Association of Airport Executives – (Credited Member and Airport Certified Employee)



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