PANAMA CITY BEACH — Holly Melzer says she believes gender should not hold any woman back from seeking a leadership position.
The 40-year-old Panama City resident has been elected chairperson of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Board of Directors, making her the first woman to lead the board.
Melzer, who has been a member of the Airport Authority since 2019, is an attorney and partner at Barron & Redding of Panama City.
"During my 15 years of practicing law in Bay County, I've certainly grown accustomed to being in male-dominated courtrooms and boardrooms," she said. "I've worked hard to demonstrate my ability to lead, advocate, make tough decisions and be prepared.
"... Although I do see more and more women in our local legal community and local organizations, which is great, I think it's important for any leadership position to be filled based on someone's vision and qualifications, regardless of gender. It's an honor to lead this board at such an exciting time at ECP."
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Melzer said one of her priorities as chairperson is to support economic development and expansion projects at the airport, which is located just north of Panama City Beach in unincorporated Bay County.
The facility logged its busiest year ever in 2021, servicing 1,598,492 passengers — about 323,000 more than its second busiest year in 2019.
"Holly's leadership and experience make her a perfect fit for this role," said Parker McClellan, executive director of ECP. "She knows exactly what it takes to lead the board and make strategic decisions to positively impact our growing airport and region."
Looking ahead, Melzer said she believes it is important for the airport to continue to develop and expand so it can meet the demand of the growing number of people who travel to and from the region each year.
In addition to her roles as Airport Authority chairperson and a local attorney, she also is a member of the board of directors of Anchorage Children's Home and magistrate for Callaway's code enforcement department.
"We really want our airport to be the airport of choice in Northwest Florida," Melzer said. "It connects our county and Northwest Florida to the rest of the country. Not only does it bring millions of visitors to our area every year, which is a huge economic driver, but it also brings business people to our area to investigate and recognize the opportunities that we have for economic development."
The Airport Authority boasts seven members and governs the Panama City-Bay County Airport and Industrial District, which owns and operates ECP. Two of its members are appointed by the Panama City City Commission, two are appointed by the Panama City Beach City Council, two are appointed by the Bay County Commission and one is appointed by the Walton County Commission.
All are appointed for four-year terms, and the chairperson is elected by the board's members.
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: ECP Airport Authority elects first woman to lead board of directors