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Women leading at Hartsfield-Jackson
By Faith Nasmyth

It may not be Women’s History Month anymore, but women are making history every day at Hartsfield-Jackson. Four women in particular are serving as leaders in fields traditionally dominated by men.

Janulyn Lennon Washington has been the deputy security director at Hartsfield-Jackson since 2002. Washington is responsible for the safety and security of an airport community that consists of 56,000 employees and more than 88 million passengers annually.

In a male-dominated field, Washington says “the hardest obstacle is always proving that I am qualified, capable and as driven as my male counterparts.”

For Deputy Fire Chief Nishiyama Willis, trailblazing is second nature. Willis, who has been a firefighter for 33 years, was one of the first female firefighters hired by the Atlanta Fire Department, the first woman to serve on the department’s hazardous materials and technical rescue unit, the first woman to be a fire officer and the department’s first female chief.

She became the deputy fire chief in 2009 and is in charge of the entire department at Hartsfield-Jackson.

The Airport’s police presence also is under female command. After serving as the assistant commander, Maj. E. Renee Propes became the newest commander of the Atlanta Police Department’s (APD) Airport Section in January.

Propes, who has been with the APD since 1984, leads the day-to-day operations of the police function.

“We strive to make this the safest airport in the world,” she said.

Mary Leftridge Byrd has become a vital part of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) operations at the world’s busiest airport. Leftridge Byrd, who has been working in law enforcement and security since 1974, was named the TSA federal security director for Hartsfield-Jackson in May 2009.

“We each bring our own sense of self to the table — our own experiences, our own abilities that can and do richly contribute to rendering workplaces more inclusive, more diverse,” Leftridge Byrd said. “I look forward to opportunities where we are never reluctant to connect head and heart as we work together, side by side, to make a difference, not only in our distinct areas of responsibility.”

The success of these four women proves to young people, especially girls, that hard work pays off and that there are no limits to what they can achieve.

“Never compromise your integrity under any circumstances,” Washington advised young people. “And, finally, always think positively and exhibit an award-winning, A+ attitude.”


Janulyn Lennon Washington

Nishiyama Willis

Maj. E. Renee Propes

Mary Leftridge Byrd


© 2010 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.

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