WELCOME TO DCFR!
For the 75th anniversary of the Denver Council on Foreign Relations the organization began awarding distinguished members of the community with the Leadership in Global Engagement Award. Recepients are recognized for their outstanding achievements in linking Denver, the Front Range, and Colorado via global, international, national, statewide, and local engagement. DCFR is excited to honor Ms. Kim Day, CEO of Denver International Airport.
Ms. Kim Day, DEN CEO
Kim Day was destined for a career in aviation. As a U.S. Air Force brat, Kim was exposed to travel and airplanes at an early age. She developed a love of travel, despite being dragged with her brother to every Civil War battlefield in America. Her interest in airports came after receiving a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) degree from Cornell University, and practicing architecture for more than 20 years. After working on office buildings, hotels, and prisons (hotels without the nice finishes and furniture), she began work on airports – and found her passion.
Kim’s new-found passion led a transition from the private sector to Los Angeles World Airports—the agency that manages Los Angeles International Airport, Ontario International Airport, Van Nuys Airport, and Palmdale Regional Airport. There she initially oversaw design and construction, and later was appointed as executive director.
In 2007, she traveled to Denver to interview with then-Mayor John Hickenlooper for the position of manager of aviation for Denver International Airport (DEN). Mayor Hickenlooper recognized her architectural background as a skillset that not only includes the ability to create a vision but also the love of follow through to achieve it.
With an eye for detail (that her staff often wishes wasn’t so sharp) and ability to see the large picture, Kim has led DEN for 11 years and has set in motion the program that completed the airport’s original vision, including an airport hotel and a transit center that connects the airport with downtown Denver by commuter rail. She’s now leading the effort to reimagine DEN’s iconic, tented Jeppesen Terminal, as well as adding 39 new gates to accommodate the airport’s continued growth in passenger traffic. Kim also lead the development of DEN’s strategic land use plan for the airport’s real estate program.
Although she misses the ocean, Kim has made a home with her two cats in downtown Denver. Under her direction, DEN was named America’s best large airport by the Wall Street Journal in 2018. Kim often says she has the “best job in America” as the leader of DEN, the region’s primary economic engine and fifth-largest commercial airport in the United States. With over 64 million passengers annually DEN boasts a robust network of more than 200 destinations served, including an ever-growing list of international destinations and more conspiracy theories than one can count.