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Chad Newton, CEO, Wayne County Airport Authority

Chad Newton, A.A.E., ACE, ASC
Chief Executive Officer, Wayne County Airport Authority


Chad Newton, A.A.E., ACE, ASC, serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA), the independent governmental entity tasked with management and operation of Michigan’s busiest airport system. Newton began his tenure in November 2018, after being appointed by the WCAA Board. As CEO, Newton manages an annual operating budget of approximately $400 million and defines the strategic direction of Willow Run Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), one of the world’s leading air transportation hubs.

Newton has more than 24 years of airport experience and over 34 years as a law enforcement professional. As a result, Newton is uniquely positioned to lead an organization that is a gateway to the world. As a member of the United States Army’s Military Police, he served stateside and abroad, gaining an appreciation for cultural differences and consensus building. After being honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant, he joined the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department as a Deputy Sheriff. In 1999, patrolling DTW became one of Newton’s responsibilities. Newton transitioned to the Wayne County Airport Authority Police Department in 2002 when WCAA was formed. Over the years, he advanced through the ranks becoming the Vice President of Public Safety for the Wayne County Airport Authority. As vice president, Newton led one of WCAA’s largest operating divisions and managed the preparation and execution of multiple collective bargaining agreements. In 2018, Newton was assigned the additional responsibility of overseeing Willow Run Airport and ensuring compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations related to safe operation of the historic facility. With a record of optimizing business processes, mitigating risk and encouraging employee growth, he was later appointed the Authority’s Interim CEO before becoming CEO.

Newton consistently tells his team, “We need to be better tomorrow than we are today.” His focus on continuous improvement produced results in 2019 when Detroit Metropolitan Airport received two highly coveted honors. Airports Council International presented the Airport Service Quality Award, naming DTW one of the best airports in North America—by size and category (25-40 million passengers)—for customer service. Months later, J.D. Power ranked DTW #1 in Customer Satisfaction for Mega Airports (more than 33 million passengers) in North America. DTW received the Airport Service Quality Award again in 2020 and in 2022.   

Newton graduated cum laude from Eastern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and a master’s degree in Technology Studies with a Law Enforcement specialty. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Michigan State Leadership Academy and the Eastern Michigan University School of Police Staff and Command. Newton is one of approximately 500 airport executives in the United States certified by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) as an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.). He is the first WCAA CEO with this distinction.

Newton serves on the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents, appointed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in March 2021. He is also a board member of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau and holds a seat on the AAAE Policy Committee. A servant leader and mentor, Newton has shared his experience as a police officer, manager and administrator with future professionals by instructing a variety of courses at Concordia University and Henry Ford College.