Originally Published: February 8, 2018 6 a.m.
Prescott’s airport-director position, which has been vacant since August 2017, is being filled by a long-time professor and department chair at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU).
The city announced in a Feb. 7 news release that Robin Sobotta, the founding chair and a professor with Embry-Riddle’s school of business, will take on the airport director role.
The appointment is expected to last about a year and a half, while Sobotta is on sabbatical leave from Embry-Riddle.
“In support of the strong relationship between the university and the City of Prescott, Dr. Sobotta is ‘on loan’ to the city through the summer of 2019, including an academic year of sabbatical leave from ERAU,” the release states.
Noting that Sobotta previously served on the airport’s Master Plan Committee and the Mayor’s Ad Hoc Airport Planning Committee, the news release adds, “Dr. Sobotta has already dedicated many hours of service to the airport and the city.”
Mayor Greg Mengarelli said Sobotta “brings tremendous experience and a track record of dedication to aviation in the Prescott area.”
Sobotta said, “This is an exciting time for the airport and the community. I am pleased that we are nearing completion of the airport master planning process, seeking to continually improve commercial air service, and actively moving the airport toward its full potential as an economic catalyst for the region.”
For the first several months, Sobotta will be working for the city on a part-time basis. Beginning in May, she will take on the role full-time, as she transitions into her sabbatical leave from Embry-Riddle.
Sobotta, who began working at Embry-Riddle in 1999, holds a Ph.D. in public administration from Arizona State University, a master of business administration in aviation from Embry-Riddle, and a bachelor’s degree from Michigan’s Grand Valley State University in public relations, advertising and political science.
She is an Accredited Airport Executive and the co-author of the “Administration of Public Airports,” fifth edition, as well as numerous other airport/aviation publications.
The airport director position has been vacant since the August 2017 resignation of former airport manager John Cox. Since then, Assistant Airport Manager Jessie Baker has been serving as interim manager.
The first round of recruitment for the position, in 2017, ended without an appointment. City Manager Michael Lamar reported in November that he had opted to re-advertise the position after his top choice turned down a job offer.
The deadline for applications in the second recruitment round was Nov. 20, and City Human Resources Director Mary Jacobsen said about 40 people applied.
Meanwhile, Sobotta indicated interest, and, according to Jacobsen, city officials saw her as a good fit for the position. When she takes on the role full-time, in May, Sobotta’s annual salary for the position will be $90,000.