“My mom was a working mom and she inspired me to aim high and
encouraged me to be very courageous. I was brought up with the sense that
working hard and taking risks will help you achieve your goals,” she says of her
But the Chicago native quickly learned that to stand out in corporate
America she had to take even bolder risks and showcase her value under any
“That was a personal challenge that I had to overcome,” Rios shares. “I did
that by believing in myself, observing other women leaders, pushing myself to
take on the more difficult projects and seeking out a mentor to help me work on
it.” Rios’ current scope of care expands to about 600 team members
responsible for taking care of an estimated 30,000 customers that come through
Chicago O’Hare for over 300 mainline flights every day.
Linda Valdez Thompson
Executive Vice President
Administration & Diversity
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
Linda Valdez Thompson recalls the excitement she felt the first time she flew on
a plane. She realized flying could help her explore places she read about as a
That fascination with flight drew her to a career in the aviation industry.
Since 2001, she has served as Executive Vice President of Administration and
Diversity at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The role makes her one of
the highest-ranking Latinas in the industry.
“What drew me in about airport first and foremost, is its commitment to
connect our region to the rest of the world,” she says. “There are many different
businesses and operational components to running an airport that create a work
experience that is very challenging and rewarding. No two days are alike.”
Valdez Thompson provides strategic leadership for Human Resources,
Procurement and Materials Management, Risk Management, Business Diversity
and Development and Corporate Communications & Marketing. Beyond the
technical aspect of her job, she is also a passionate advocate for diversity and
inclusion in the workplace.
“Diversity and Inclusion is core to my beliefs that every single person is
valuable and has talent and therefore should (be) acknowledged and affirmed for
their uniqueness and invited to belong to our community,” Valdez Thompson
She established a leadership council, various employees resource groups
including Hispanic Outreach by Leaders in Action (HOLA), networks and
mentoring programs. She has personally mentored and coached more than 150
women, many of whom are Latina.
“These are all programs that support our talented employees to grow to their
potential and contribute to our mutual success,” she says.
Valdez Thompson oversees the airport’s award-winning business
diversity program which creates economic opportunity for small, minority, and
women-owned businesses in North Texas. More than 30 percent of the airport’s
annual spending goes to these businesses.
She is particularly proud of her team’s successful implementation of new
HR database Success Factors in 59 countries for over 6,000 team members. On
a personal note, she is honored to have been named one of LATINA Style Inc.’s
Top 12 Corporate Latina Executives of the Year.
American Airlines’ Latin Diversity Network Employee Business Resource
Group was also recognized for its exceptional leadership and vision. Rios served
as the group’s first president and continues involved, including through mission
trips to Latin America.
“We all think of flight attendants and pilots when we think of the aviation
industry, but there is so much more to it, including in government affairs, the
legal department, our sales department and finance,” Rios shares. “There’s
opportunity here regardless of your background and area of interest.”
Linda Valdez Thompson, Executive Vice President Administration
& Diversity, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
Her professional values have helped her contribute to making the DFW
Airport one of the best in the globe.
“My greatest accomplishment has been to contribute to making DFW
Airport one of the biggest and best airports in the world by attracting and
engaging amazing talent both in our employees and suppliers,” says Valdez
28 www. lat inastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol . 25, No. 3, 2019