Home > PUM Women's History Salutes: Stephanie Saracco, Chief Operating Officer of the Allegheny County Airport Authority

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PUM Women's History Salutes: Stephanie Saracco, Chief Operating Officer of the Allegheny County Airport Authority

"The biggest change I have seen is the cultural change toward women in the workplace in general.  Aviation careers are not limited to pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers. There are many disciplines required in modern aviation that need to be filled. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) functions, management, safety and customer service are a few of the fields that aviation industry encompasses. I have only flown as a recreational pilot, and over the years, family and career have taken over, but the thrill of flying never leaves. I am fortunate to work in a career where I can still be part of the industry that is a passion for me." Stephanie Saracco

Stephanie Saracco has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Allegheny County Airport Authority since 2008.  She has worked for the organization for more than 28 years.  She has held positions in the Operations Department at PIT and served as Director of Allegheny County Airport for 8 years before taking her current position. Mrs. Saracco has participated in a wide variety of industry seminars as both moderator and speaker/panel member and serves on various committees for airport industry trade associations.  She currently holds the office of President of the Board of the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania, sits on the Board of Directors of the Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives, and is a member of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Research, Engineering and Development Sub-Committee. Mrs. Saracco is a FAA-Licensed Pilot and is an Accredited Airport Executive member of the American Association of Airport Executives.  Mrs. Saracco holds an Associate Degree in airport management and a Bachelor’s Degree in management from Salem College and a Master’s Degree from Geneva College. A resident of Upper St. Clair, Stephanie has two children and a granddaughter.

 

PUM One on One with Stephanie Saracco, Chief Operating Officer of the Allegheny County Airport Authority 

PUM: Celebrating Women's History Month, what does that mean for you in terms of what you have been able to accomplish in your career?

Saracco: It is important for women to understand the opportunities that are available to them now. The gender stereotypes are going away and young women today are not being held back. Create the broadest opportunities by focusing on education and ongoing training. Airport Operations is many things: safety, security, managing people, collaborating with many organizations and being detailed oriented while also keeping your sites on the big picture. The variety of the field is what keeps me motivated. 

PUM:  You have been involved in aviation for over 20 years, what are the significant changes you have seen in your various positions and what role to you see women having in terms of careers in this field? You have also been a licensed pilot since 1983, do you still fly? What is that experience like being a pilot and being a woman?

Saracco: The biggest change I have seen is the cultural change toward women in the workplace in general.  Aviation careers are not limited to pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers. There are many disciplines required in modern aviation that need to be filled. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) functions, management, safety and customer service are a few of the fields that aviation industry encompasses. I have only flown as a recreational pilot, and over the years, family and career have taken over, but the thrill of flying never leaves. I am fortunate to work in a career where I can still be part of the industry that is a passion for me. When I was learning to fly there were few women pilots and I was fortunate to be around people who encouraged me. I took my first flight with my father and grandfather as the pilot when I was a one year old. My family was comfortable with flying and aviation, so it really wasn’t a big surprise when I became Interested. My father secretly took me for my first lesson, but he never had the opportunity to learn to fly. My grandfather was a WWII flight instructor but did not believe that he should be the one to teach the family. There is greater acceptance of women in the workplace and their ability to combine a career and family. I know that when the day comes that I am not captivated watching an airplane take off and land it is time to leave.

 (Pictured: Women pilots WW1 and Bessie Coleman, first African American Female Pilot)  

 

 

 

  

PUM: What is your advice and recommendations to women as they break through the glass ceilings in their careers? How were you able to persevere?

Saracco: My advice to women as they move up in their career is to concentrate on excelling in making positive contributions in your field and do not spend time on obstacles based on perceived gender bias. Hard work, diplomacy and problem solving are the pillars to support advancement.

PUM: Balancing career and home life, what has worked for you on your path to success?

Saracco: Rewards of work are many.  Family and career work together to complete me. I have been lucky to have a supportive family to help through tough situations. I have found that many skills tend to be useful in both environments. Determining what is most important and prioritizing is necessary to managing your time and energy. Patience, compassion and staying objective go a long way to keep balance. I bring a blend of work and home in my approach to the job and co-workers get a better understanding of how I achieve goals.

PUM: What are you most proud of as a woman who inspires other women every day?

Saracco: What I am most proud of is being able to take care of my family and having a successful career.  I have had wonderful examples in my life of women who put their families first and are also accomplished in their professions.  They did not believe that it was one or another but a balance that can enrich both areas of their lives.

 

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