Phillip Washington

Denver International Airport

Phillip A. Washington was nominated by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and unanimously confirmed by the Denver City Council as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Denver International Airport (DEN) on July 12, 2021. DEN is the country’s 3rd busiest airport and the world’s 7th busiest airport by passengers. The annual economic impact of DEN is $33.5 billion and has 30,000 total badged employees with 22 air carriers and a total of 170 concession locations and more than 190,000 square feet of concession space. In just a short period of time, Phil has set forth a vision for DEN, Vision 100, that looks to prepare DEN to accommodate 100 million passengers, a 30% increase in passengers within the next 5-8 years. 

Prior to Washington’s arrival at DEN, he was the CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) from March 2015 to May, 2021. 

As Metro’s CEO, Washington managed a balanced budget in excess of $8 billion, was responsible for overseeing between $18-$20 billion in capital projects and provided oversight of an agency with 11,000 employees that transported 1.2 million boarding passengers daily on a fleet of 2,200 clean-air buses and six rail lines. Metro is the lead transportation planning, programming, and financing agency for LA County. As such, it is a major construction agency that oversees bus, rail, highway, and other mobility related infrastructure projects – together representing the largest modern public works program in North America. Washington was also engaged and partnering in all facets of transportation and infrastructure in LA County including aviation, goods movement, freight/railroads, water, public works, housing, and transit-oriented communities (TOCs). 

Washington led the 2016 successful effort to pass Measure M, a new half- cent sales tax in Los Angeles County (the most populated county in the United States), which garnered 71.15% voter approval. Measure M will allow Metro to build 40 major highway and transit projects over the next 40 years, create 778,000 jobs and provide $133.3 billion in economic impact for the region. Measure M has no sunset and will only end if voters vote to end it. 

Washington went to Los Angeles from Denver, where he served as the CEO of Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) between 2009 and 2015. He was previously the assistant general manager of RTD for nearly 10 years before being named CEO. 

In Denver, Washington led and implemented the FasTracks program, one of the largest voter approved transportation expansion programs in the country. Under his leadership, Denver’s West Corridor Rail Line project was completed under budget and eight months earlier than scheduled, and the award-winning Denver Union Station project was completed five months early and is now realizing tremendous revenue and value capture from the surrounding development. 

Also in Denver, Washington implemented the nation’s first and still only $2.2 billion rail transit public private partnership (P3), which opened in 2016 and is in operation and exceeding ridership estimates.

Washington has received numerous prestigious assignments and honors. In July 2022, Phil was nominated by President Biden to be the next Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator. Phil awaits Senate confirmation. In 2021, under Washington’s leadership of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, LA Metro was named a Top Regional Employer in the DiversityInc Top 50 Employer competition for the first time in the agency’s history. In 2020 and 2021, Phil co-chaired the Biden/Harris Infrastructure Policy Committee, he was later asked to lead (Captain) the Biden/Harris Transportation Transition Team. In both 2021 and 2019, he testified before the full U.S. Congressional Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was honored with the Eddy Award for Outstanding Leadership in Economic Development and was awarded the prestigious CORO Crystal Eagle Award for a “Legacy of Leadership.” In 2018, he was awarded the Honorable Ray LaHood Award (former U.S. Secretary of Transportation) by the national Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) for his outstanding contribution in promoting opportunities to advance and advocate for women in the transportation industry. In 2017, he was presented with the Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Award for his service to U.S. military veterans and was honored with the Norman Mineta Award for exceptional leadership in the transportation industry. In 2016, he was chosen by the National Safety Council as one of the CEOs Who “Get It” – an honor bestowed on CEOs who demonstrate leadership in safety at the highest levels. In 2014, he was selected by the editors of Engineering News-Record as one of the Top 25 Newsmakers of 2013. Washington was also named 2013-2014 Outstanding Public Transportation CEO of the Year in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). In 2012, President Obama named him a White House Transportation Innovators Champion of Change. In 2009, he was appointed by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to serve on the State of Colorado’s Workforce Development Council to help the state create a 21st century workforce. And, in 2007, he was appointed by the mayor of Denver to lead the Host Transportation Committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. 

Originally from the South Side of Chicago – the housing projects of Altgeld Gardens – Washington is a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army, where he held the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest non-commissioned officer rank an enlisted soldier can achieve. He retired from active duty, is a disabled veteran and was awarded the prestigious Defense Superior Service Medal for exceptional service to his country. He holds a B.A. in Business from Columbia College, an M.A. in Management from Webster University and is a graduate of the Harvard University Kennedy School for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. He is also a past chair of APTA and a former member of the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board and the Eno Center for Transportation.