Board

 
Mel Beale (President)
Mel, and his wife, Ann, have been residents and homeowners in Newport Beach’s Back Bay area since 1986. Mel, currently a business consultant for manufacturers in California, previously worked in commercial aviation as a past Director of Flight Operations System products for a business processing outsourcing firm. In this role, he led a department which supplied flight planning, weight and balance, runway analysis & aircraft engineering service products, to a customer base of over 80 airlines serving 150+ airports around the world.  Mel was a lead solution architect for state of the art airline command and control centers for major passenger and cargo operators in the US and Europe, and, held membership on committees of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Airline Dispatchers Federation (ADF). In his role as a management consultant, clients included large aerospace manufacturers of both aircraft and engines and manufacturers of high speed rail


 
Barbara E. Lichman (Executive Counsel)
Barbara E. Lichman, Ph.D.  has an extensive and successful record representing airports, municipalities, developers, and other public and private clients in litigation and administrative proceedings under Federal Aviation statutes such as the Airline Deregulation Act and Airport Noise and Capacity Act; the California Public Utilities Code governing land use in airport environs (Aeronautics Act); and federal and state environmental statutes including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Clean Air Act, the Federal Clean Water Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, and the California Coastal Act. Dr. Lichman earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Southern California School of Urban and Regional Planning.

Dr. Lichman’s experience is both national and international. As a Registered Federal Lobbyist, Dr. Lichman successfully lobbied and testified before Congress on behalf of aircraft owners and operators on issues including the grant of investment tax credits for noise reduction of aircraft engines. She also served as counsel to Air AAA Group, a consortium of international architectural, engineering and construction companies in their airport development activities at Pudong Airport, Shanghai, China. Dr. Lichman served as managing partner of Chevalier, Allen & Lichman, LLP, for sixteen years.


 
Tony Khoury (past AWG President 2009-2016)
Tony Khoury resides in Newport Beach and has been working with International Business for the past 35 years with offices in Orange  County, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, India and the Middle East and with comprehensive experience in international trade, business  management, finance and global negotiations. For the past 20 years, he served his community as an active member of the Airport  Working Group working to protect Orange County from the impacts of an expanded JWA, taking part in the El Toro Airport campaign and serving as President. He also served for more than 10years as a member of the Dover Shores Community Association Board of Directors serving in various capacities including President, VP, and Chairman of various committees. He is a member of the Senatorial Inner Circle and the American Field Service Scholarship Selection Committee Awards for Excellence.

 
Esther Fine
A resident of Newport Beach since 1960, Esther became involved as a volunteer and activist in the community during the Orange County Airport Variance Hearings in the mid 1970’s. She has been a member on the Board of Directors of the Airport Working Group since the organization’s inception in 1982 to the present and has served as its secretary during the AWG’s formative years.
 
Majoring in business and real estate, Esther attended UCLA, Orange Coast College and Coastline Community College as an honor student.  In 1988 she began selling real estate and over the years she has established a successful career as a Realtor, currently with Surterre Properties, Inc. in Newport Beach.

Esther served on the Orange Coast Association of Realtors Political Affairs Committee for several years and currently, she not only runs an active business assisting her clients with all of their real estate needs, but she also serves as secretary on the Board of Directors of the Dover Shores Homeowners’ Association.

 
 
W. Dave Cook
Mr. Cook has been a Newport Beach resident for over 50 years, living in Eastbluff alongside the departure path of John Wayne Airport. He learned to fly at Orange County Airport (now JWA) and later flew in and out of JWA as a commercial pilot. Trained as an electrical engineer, Mr. Cook initially worked in the aerospace industry holding various program management positions. He later transitioned to the airlines, flying as a pilot for Continental (now merged with United) and was actively involved in the pilot training departments for 28 years. After retiring, Mr. Cook turned his interests to local airport operations, becoming involved in organizations dedicated to mitigating the aircraft noise from John Wayne Airport. He served on the Newport Beach Aviation Committee for three years and then joined the board of AWG. Mr. Cook’s background combines the unique viewpoint of a long-time resident, with a technical understanding of flight operations and a familiarity of airline operating procedures.
 
 
Jane Spitz (Treasurer)
Jane desired to support the efforts of the AWG and joined the Board in late 2019.  Jane was motivated to join because of her deep interest in working to reduce both the noise and pollution impacts on the local community residents generated by the airport aircraft operations. Jane, her husband and three daughters have been residents of Newport Beach for 7 years and live in an area subject to the impact of John Wayne Airport air traffic.  She works as an insurance broker and risk manager with Dominion Risk Management, specializing in Personal Lines Insurance.  Jane has been a community volunteer for 20 years. 
 
 
William Coholan III
William was born and raised in Westcliff /Dover Shores and has been living under the flight path his entire life. His passion for aviation started at an early age. One of his desires, is to get his jet operators license. His love for the preforming arts led him to New York City, where he took a job traveling the world with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. After many years of travel, he settled down in NYC to work on Broadway and in Television. The effects of increased air traffic at JWA, and the loss of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, led him to the AWG. His desire is to make a difference in the quality of life for the future of the neighborhood he loves.


Veronica Cassidy
Veronica is a third-generation Balboa Island resident with an interdisciplinary M.A. in
Liberal Studies from New York’s New School for Social Research and expertise in American
and European history. Veronica worked as a university lecturer and senior researcher, before
building her own cheese and wine business in Paris. Back in Newport, she volunteers with
multiple community organizations and manages family properties. Though her great-aunt
Mildred, who bought the BI home in 1935, used to shake her fists at planes flying overhead,
Veronica looks forward to helping the AWG find solutions that allow our local airport to thrive
while maintaining the clean, tranquil standard of living Newport residents have come to
appreciate.











 
Laura Oatman 
Laura has been a resident of Newport Beach since 1976, when she began her studies at UC Irvine, and just never left! She is a licensed architect, married to Homer Oatman whom she met at UCLA Architecture Grad School in the early 80’s. For the first 9 years of their marriage (1984-1993), as they raised their young family of five children, they lived on Santa Isabel Ave, directly under many of the JWA departure flights. She knows firsthand the anxiety that young parents feel with planes taking off low and loud over backyards where your children are playing.
She worked for 24 years in the corporate architecture realm designing resort hotels around the world, then
another 8 years as a small business owner when she and Homer started Oatman Architects at the depth of the last great recession. She ran for Congress in 2017, but withdrew from the race to endorse and support Harley Rouda, who later hired her and for the last two years Laura was his District Director. Along with his Legislative Director in DC, she was proud to facilitate Rep Rouda’s Coastal Communities Aircraft Noise Mitigation Task Force and looks forward to continue working with AWG to improve the quality of life for families who live near John Wayne Airport.

Airport Working Group of Orange County, Inc.  •  1048 Irvine Avenue, PMB 467  •  Newport Beach, CA 92660

Mail@awgoc.com