Candace McGraw became chief executive officer of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in July 2011, leading a team that has earned the airport recognition as the Best Regional Airport in America for five consecutive years.

At the same time, as a major corporate leader in the region, she has been active and visible in the community as the “face” of the airport, giving much more than facetime, and earning numerous honors and recognitions along the way.

The old adage that if you want something done, find a busy person to do it certainly proved true recently when McGraw agreed to take on the chairmanship of the newly constituted board for Skyward, formerly Vision 2015, and the responsibility for its new strategic plan for Northern Kentucky.

Q: As busy as you are, why agree to take on the Skyward work?

A: When I moved to the region about five years ago, I said yes to everything so I could gain an understanding of the community and its issues. Now, I want to focus my limited time on organizations more aligned to the mission of CVG.

Q: What distinguished Skyward?

A: I liked the smart process. The incredible leadership that made a big plan, reached out to the broad community for input, aggregated and distilled a lot of data and built practical but measurable goals. I think it’s important to have a plan, work the plan and achieve the goals. I also know that if people are part of the plan, they’ll talk about that plan—and we need that kind of engagement.

Q: Is this how you manage all your responsibilities?

A: Yes, I believe in planning and goal setting. That way, everyone understands what’s expected and how to focus.

I’m a collaborative leader who surrounds herself with competent people and lets them do their jobs. That’s the only way for an organization—any organization—to be effective. But, I do understand that the outcomes are ultimately my responsibility and that I have to take that responsibility and be held accountable.

Q: How would you describe the Skyward plan?

A: Bold. But with practical, measurable goals.

Q: What do you like about the Skyward plan particularly?

A: I like the balance—Jobs, Health, Vibrancy, Education. Those are the four primary focuses. If we focus, stick to the plan and execute it right, the quality of life in our region will be greatly improved and we will have been thoughtful about planting the seeds for progress.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge?

A: Jobs. The big challenge is addressing the lack of trained workforce for available jobs. That doesn’t necessarily apply to the airport because we have ample pools of applicants for our jobs, but others—especially in advanced manufacturing—have terrific challenges.

Q. What are your expectations?

A: Because of the people involved, the commitments and passion for the work, I expect success. I’ve made a commitment for a few years and I expect to have good results to show for that and that the community will see the benefits.