Hernan E. Peña Jr., director of traffic and transportation at the City of Charleston, has been named vice president of engineering at the Charleston County Aviation Authority, owner and operator of Charleston International Airport (CHS).
Peña comes to the Aviation Authority with a vast knowledge of the organization. He has served on the Aviation Authority Board as the proxy for the mayor of the City of Charleston for the last 16 years and has served as chairman of the TRIP Committee overseeing the airport’s Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program. During his career, Peña has worked in numerous transportation projects for the City of Charleston along with other entities, such as S.C. Department of Transportation on the Ravenel Bridge and with Charleston County on transportation projects funded through the transportation sales tax.
“I am thrilled that Hernan is joining our staff. He will be a great asset to our organization because of his extensive experience in transportation. His knowledge of airports and the aviation industry and, in particular, Charleston International and our terminal redevelopment project will allow for a seamless transition as we continue to grow as an airport and economic development engine in the Lowcountry,” said Paul G. Campbell Jr., executive director and CEO of the Aviation Authority.
The terminal redevelopment at Charleston International Airport is expected to wrap up by late spring/early summer. But as soon as it is done, work will begin to revamp and expand the airport parking facilities and the Ticketing Hall to handle the record 3.4 million passengers a year flying in and out of CHS.
“Hernan is one of the most solid, loyal and devoted people I have ever been associated with. I am beyond thrilled that he is coming aboard,” said Billy Swails, chairman of the Aviation Authority Board. “He is a perfect fit for us as we wrap up one major construction project and plan for our future.”
Peña is a graduate of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He received his master’s degree in engineering from California Coast University. Peña has worked for the City of Charleston for the past 29 years, 16 of those years working directly under the leadership of former Mayor Joe Riley and most recently under Mayor John Tecklenburg’s administration.
“Hernan Peña is one of the finest and most hardworking people with whom I've had the pleasure to work,” Riley said. “He is a creative problem solver and an outstanding leader. Hernan will be a huge asset for the Charleston County Aviation Authority.”
Mayor Tecklenburg said “during my time working with Hernan Peña, I have found him to be one of the most competent and conscientious staff members for the City of Charleston. I know that he will be a great benefit in his new position and we will miss him at the City of Charleston.”
Peña was instrumental in obtaining over $110 million of federal and state funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, S.C. DOT and the S.C. State Infrastructure Bank to fully fund the Septima P. Clark (Crosstown) transportation and drainage improvement project in Charleston.
“I am extremely grateful to Chairman Swails and the board as well as Director Campbell for this wonderful opportunity to join such a terrific CHS team of professionals and I hope to contribute to the success of this outstanding organization,” Peña said. “I am equally grateful to former Mayor Riley and Mayor Tecklenburg for the opportunity to work for the City of Charleston with such great people at City Council as well as my city colleagues.”
As chairman of the CHS TRIP Committee, Peña helped lead the $200 million construction project, which included building a new central energy plant, baggage carousels, rental car pavilion and consolidated security screening checkpoint. Apron space has been expanded to allow for more aircraft parking, and airline gates have grown from 10 to 15. In addition, the entire airport has been modernized to create a better passenger experience and provide more dining and shopping opportunities for travelers.
Peña is the recipient of numerous professional honors and recognitions such as the 1992 S.C. Transportation Engineer of the Year Award and The Wilbur Smith Outstanding Electrical Engineer Award. In addition to serving on the Aviation Authority Board and the TRIP Committee, he has represented the Mayor of Charleston on the Charleston Area Transportation Study Policy Committee (CHATS), the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) and the Berkeley-Dorchester-Charleston Council of Governments.
Peña will begin work at the Aviation Authority on April 20.