Cotter Named MS Airports Association Professional of the Year

At its recent virtual annual conference, the Mississippi Airports Association (MAA) named William P. (“Bill”) Cotter, Jr., its Professional of the Year. Cotter has served the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission (HCPHC) for over 20 years, most of that time as Airport Director at Stennis International Airport and then HCPHC Chief Operations Officer. He is now interim Chief Executive Officer for the Commission.

Nominations for the award come from the membership at large. The candidates are evaluated based on leadership, efforts to promote and enhance airports and contribution to advancing aviation in Mississippi.

“The MAA is proud to honor our Professional of the Year, Bill Cotter,” stated President Sam Washington, Airport Director at Greenville Mid-Delta Airport. “Bill has been a fixture in the MAA for many years, and his work as Executive Director of the Stennis International Airport was exemplary. I had the privilege of serving as Vice President of the MAA under Bill’s presidency, and I admired his level-headed leadership and his true concern for the MAA and Mississippi airports. Bill is well deserving of this honor. I was privileged to present him with the award!”

Cotter began his aviation career in 1989 at New Orleans International Airport (now Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport), then moved to New Orleans Lakefront Airport before joining HCPHC as Stennis’ Airport Director in 1999.

“Over the past 20 years, Bill led the airport through major accomplishments and events, including the turbulent times of Hurricane Katrina and supporting the relief efforts following Deepwater Horizon,” shared current Stennis Airport Director Chanse Watson, who took the position when Cotter became COO, in nominating him. “His support and love for aviation and public service are immeasurable and continue to remain evident today.”

As Airport Director and COO, Cotter oversaw more than $70 million in federal and state grants and implemented an additional $40 million in FEMA, bonds and internally funded projects in airport improvements, as well as authored unique support capabilities for military training in the region. A former MAA President and board member for several years, he is also an American Association of Airport Executives Certified Member and a licensed pilot. He holds a degree in aviation management from Southern Illinois University.

“I am truly humbled by this kind offering,” Cotter remarks. “Knowing who has been named before me and the great talent of Mississippi airport managers that will follow makes me proud to be associated with everyone in the Mississippi Airports Association.”

After serving the aviation community for some 30 years, Cotter announced plans to retire in June 2020 from his position as COO. However, being an advocate for Mississippi aviation, transportation and economic development, he agreed to postpone retirement when called on to continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, and he was named interim CEO in August.

The Mississippi Airports Association is a consortium of individuals and organizations interested in enhancing aviation in Mississippi. Its purpose is to promote aviation and airport interests, to provide a medium for discussion by its members, to promote proper legislation for aviation and airports and to advise and give consultation to its members when requested. Members include those involved in airport management as well as consultants, businesspeople and representatives from government aviation agencies.