Huerta, 56, grew up loving the beach, but he became an avid snow skier in adulthood. A native of Riverside, Calif., Huerta helped manage the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, dubbed him an "honorary Utahn" for creating a workable transportation system during the global sporting event. Huerta's professional life now focuses on the skies. As FAA administrator, he is charged with overseeing the world's largest aerospace system. He manages a $15.2 billion budget and more than 47,000 employees. He is also responsible for the multibillion-dollar NextGen air traffic control system, transitioning the agency from ground-based radar to satellite GPS technology. Lately, Huerta's job has also involved fielding complaints from cities and towns all over the country about the FAA's shutdown of towers at smaller airports as a part of Washington's across-the-board budget cuts. He moved up from deputy administrator after his predecessor, Randy Babbitt, was arrested for drunk driving in December 2011. Huerta was acting administrator for a year, caught up in an array of nominees stalled in Congress during fiscal-cliff talks. The full Senate finally confirmed him on Jan. 1. Huerta has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California (Riverside) and a master's in international relations from Princeton.
Michael Huerta, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
MORE NATIONAL JOURNAL