“To whom much is given, much is required.”
Philippa Lee Karteron lives her life according to this Bible quote. The Executive Director of the Council for Airport Opportunity is spiritual and believes that there is a responsibility for those who live a blessed life.
“There is a responsibility to give back,” said Karteron. “It’s something inside of me, which my parents gave me.”
The Council for Airport Opportunity’s (CAO) mission is to promote the growth and development of job opportunities within the aviation industry in the communities surrounding New York’s regional airports and to provide those airport employers with a highly-qualified workforce on all levels.
“Our function is to find qualified applicants for the airport community, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion,” she said. “We are essentially headhunters for the airport industry in the metro area.”
Since its inception in 1972, the CAO has placed nearly 60,000 people in airport and airport-related jobs around the city. It is a not-for-profit C4 organization, funded by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and its airline partners.
Karteron has spent over 30 years in different administrative positions for the city, including Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Employment. Prior to leaving city government she was with the New York City Department of Small Business Services, where she held the position of Project Administrator for Special Projects and was responsible for the development and implementation of strategic and community partnerships.
She was also the Project Administrator for the Airtrain Recruitment Project and, as such, responsible for the project’s implementation. The goal of the project was to find employees specifically from the surrounding area.
“The goal was to get jobs for the people in the area, and it worked,” she said. “Ninety-percent of those hired were from Queens.”
Helping local residents find opportunity has always been Karteron’s top priority. She spent time as the Executive Director of Queens Workforce One Center where she helped countless individuals find and prepare for jobs.
“I truly believe workforce development is the cornerstone of economic development,” she said. “You can’t have a business without people. They are a resource necessary to strengthen the economy.”
Karteron believes that improvements to the workforces of local businesses will eventually have a positive effect on the national economy. And those improvements, she believes, can help to get our country back in the right economic direction.
“Our times are calling for a re-evaluation of who we are as a country,” she said. “We have to get back to basics and make sure people are prepared to work. Our ultimate goal is to strengthen the local economy and the greater economy.”
Karteron received recognition for her extensive work within the community when, in 2006, she was named one of the Top Women in Business by The Queens Courier and Queens Business Today. She also recently received the Business Leadership Award from the National Association of Professional Women in Construction (PWC).
“The recognition is gratifying,” she said. “But the real gratification is in the doing.”
For Karteron, part of the “doing” involves passing on her values to her children. Her daughter Malikka has a masters degree in Environmental Policy and Justice, and her son Blake is enrolled in Queensborough Community College for business. Along with husband Jacques, who is also involved in the community as the Executive Director of the Rockaway Boulevard Development Corp., she believes that family involvement is the key to passing on community consciousness.
“We’re a tight-knit family that does everything together,” she said. “As a parent, you must lead by example, involvement and exposure.”
The world that Karteron exposes her children to is one in which helping others in the community comes first. And she is glad to give what is required of her, since she has been given so much.
“I was always oriented to being in a field where I would be given the opportunity to make a difference,” she said. “I have my own personal mandate to make a difference and with my job, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given a vehicle to do just that.”