Director, communications and public affairs, Columbus Regional Airport Authority
About: Kristen Easterday leads communications and government affairs for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, successfully lobbying for capital project funding and keeping the organization in touch with critical stakeholders during one of its most challenging years to date. Easterday previously served as vice president for government relations at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. She began her career as a staff assistant to then-U.S. Senator Mike DeWine.
Let’s become known as one of the most welcoming cities in the world.
Outside of work: Advocacy chair for the Ohio Aviation Association; treasurer for the Ohio Council of Port Authorities; board member for Neighborhood Services, a food pantry in Columbus; service on policy committees at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and United Way of Central Ohio; and membership on COSI’s Young Professional Board and Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District.
What does Columbus need to thrive? Let’s become known as one of the most welcoming cities in the world. As a guiding principle, this will set the tone for continued growth as a just and compassionate community.
Over the past two decades, Columbus has developed its swagger and now appropriately owns its title as the 14th largest city in the U.S. We have shown the world that we can take on any challenge and succeed when we do things our own way—the Columbus Way. Examples include winning the Smart City Challenge, building one of the largest Pride events in the nation, gaining support from over 2,500 business leaders to declare racism a public health crisis, saving our local soccer team and creating the New American Initiative. We need to double down on this energy and hasten our work to be an opportunity city for all.
Easterday’s idea: The group of Future 50 could help amplify the welcome message within our personal spheres of influence. Each of us could also commit to erecting a single “welcome” sign in a different language and unique artistic design somewhere in Columbus. Imagine the force of 50 distinctive “welcome” messages across our community as a friendly reminder of the attitude want to embody.