By Makenzie Winkler
Megan Thoben, ’10, earned her degree in aviation management from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in just three years. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Thoben says EKU’s aviation program is what drew her to the school.
“I had looked at several other programs across multiple surrounding states and decided on EKU for one big reason: the obvious benefits of staying in the state,” Thoben said. “Going to EKU was a great decision. I loved getting to customize what I did within the aviation department.”
Thoben was among the Louisville Business First Forty Under 40 in 2021 and was named the 2022 Most Admired Woman - Young Woman Executives by Today’s Woman. Thoben is the director of operations and business development for the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.
“EKU helped prepare me for this role, because they gave me a glimpse of all the different perspectives I’d encounter as the director of operations,” said Thoben. “I work with general aviation, air traffic controllers and pilots. Knowing what they go through and knowing what their job entails—even on a small scale—gives me a leg up in understanding my role and how I can assist them better and run an airport better.”
After graduation, Thoben worked part time at Blue Grass Airport, part time for TAC Air-Lex and as an unpaid intern at the Louisville Airport. Her days started at 5 a.m. with Blue Grass Airport and ended at 10 p.m. with TAC Air-Lex, and she traveled to Louisville on her days off for her internship.
Thoben was then offered a full-time position with Blue Grass Airport in their operations department before being promoted to supervisor.
“The operations department oversees regulatory compliances with the FAA and TSA,” Thoben said. “We ensure the airport stays open and can receive commercial flights. Airport operations is the glue that brings everybody together for the passenger experience.”
She next took the opportunity to work as operations manager at Columbia Airport in South Carolina. After almost three years in this position, where she built the department from scratch, she landed her current position at the Louisville Airport.
Thoben says she most enjoys the opportunities she’s had in this position and the people.
“I’m very fortunate and appreciate those unique experiences I’ve been able to have. Equally as much, it’s the people that I get to meet,” said Thoben. “Most of the time the people I cross paths with are just as passionate about what they do as I am and what aviation does for the world and for people. It's my two passions colliding. The main function of airports is bringing people together.”