Officers & Practice Leaders

President

Yovette Drake

With over 30 years of experience in management, business planning, financial analysis, software engineering, operations, and decision analysis, Ms. Drake has the breadth and depth of experience needed help airports implement systems and processes to increase revenues and improve operations. Ms. Drake strives to help airports gain a competitive advantage by putting data analytics at the center of decision making. She partners with clients to create data infrastructure, improve governance, streamline integration, and ensure both quality and access to critical data. She is also a leading voice in the industry for the power of visual analytics to monitor and calibrate airport operations.

A particular passion—Yovette strives to help airports gain a competitive advantage by putting data analytics at the center of decision making

areas of expertise

  • Airport Finance
  • Airport Management Consulting
  • Financial Systems
  • Property Management & Concessions Systems
  • Dashboards & Data Analytics

education

  • MM, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • BS, Management, Mundelein College – Loyola University

Senior Executive Vice President

Anthony Drake

Mr. Drake has 33+ years of aviation finance experience and has directed and participated in financial consulting assignments for over a hundred small, medium, and large hub airports throughout the country. He is known as a problem-solver and creative-thinker in his approach to developing strategic financial plans that deliver the necessary funding when needed. Mr. Drake founded Unison after serving as Vice President and Regional Manager of Landrum and Brown, Inc., where he managed the delivery of all client services within the firm’s Central Regional office. Prior to that role, he served as Chief Financial Officer for the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation, where he directed the $1.8 billion O’Hare International Airport Redevelopment Program.

Tony is known as a problem-solver and creative-thinker in his approach to developing strategic financial plans that deliver innovative solutions to complex situations.

areas of expertise

  • Airport Financing Strategies
  • Airline Lease Negotiations
  • Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Applications
  • Airline Rates and Charges Development
  • Master Plan Financial Analysis
  • Grant Maximization

education

  • PA, Public Policy, Southern Illinois University
  • BS, Southern Illinois University
Principal, Finance

Donald Arthur

Mr. Arthur has more than 32 years of business experience in accounting and financial management, including 29 years in airport finance. Having worked as both an aviation consultant and an airport executive, Mr. Arthur is familiar with all aspects of airport finance. He brings to his consulting assignments an in-depth understanding of the issues facing airport executives. Mr. Arthur has managed numerous financial consulting projects covering all aspects of airport finance, including financial feasibility reports, airline rates and charges, capital program funding plans, rental car and parking facility financial analyses, and other general airport financial consulting services. Prior to joining Unison, Mr. Arthur previously served in several capacities at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, most recently as Deputy Airport Director – Finance and Administration. In his consulting capacity, Mr. Arthur views issues from the perspective of airport management and assists clients in developing innovative solutions.

Don’s broad experience as an airport executive and an airport financial consultant enables him to provide valuable insight and recommend innovative solutions to help his airport clients achieve their goals and objectives.

areas of expertise

  • Airport Financing Strategies
  • Financial Feasibility Reports
  • Capital Program Funding Plans
  • Airline Rates and Charges Development
  • Airline Lease Negotiations
  • Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Applications
  • Rental Car Lease Negotiations
  • Master Plan Financial Analysis

education

  • M.B.A., University of California, Irvine
  • BS, business administration, accounting, California State University
  • Certified Public Accountant, State of Illinois
Principal, Finance

Gregory Chappell

Mr. Chappell has more than 20 years of experience in financial management, including development of financial models as well as operating and capital budgets. He has extensive experience with supporting various bond transactions through the development of bond feasibility studies in support of the Airport’s ability to repay the debt. He is a valuable resource for our clients, providing a variety of financial assessments as is always available to help clients resolve the complexities of an ever-changing industry. Mr. Chappell has managed numerous aviation consulting projects serving as Project Manager and On-Call Consultant and has been instrumental to the successful financing of major infrastructure development initiatives. Mr. Chappell has also led many special projects for airports, including: Staff Organizational Studies, Consolidated Facility Charge Affordability Analysis, Airline Use and Lease Negotiations, Financial Sensitivities during economic crisis, Rating Agency Presentations and Master Plan Studies (Finance Chapter).

Greg’s varied experience in several aspects of financial management provides an acute business acumen to assist our clients in viewing their financial solutions through a different lens.

areas of expertise

  • Airport Financing Strategies
  • Airline Lease Negotiations
  • Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Applications
  • Airline Rates and Charges Development
  • Consolidated Facility Charge Affordability Analysis
  • Master Plan Financial Analysis
  • Organizational Studies

education

  • MBA, Finance/Marketing, Northwestern University
  • BS, BA, accounting, Roosevelt University
  • Certified Public Accountant, State of Illinois
Principal, Finance

Sharon Sarmiento, Ph.D.

Dr. Sarmiento is an economist with nearly 30 years of professional experience, including 24 years leading Unison’s airport economic consulting services. Her academic specializations include transportation economics, urban economics, applied econometrics, and data analytics, which she puts to work in helping airports make data-driven decisions, plan capital improvements, raise funding to implement these capital improvements, and gain community support for airport development.

Sharon combines a strong theoretical foundation, expertise in advance data analytics, deep industry knowledge in preparing various studies airport managers need to make critical decisions, gain support, and obtain funding for airport development.

areas of expertise

  • Transportation demand modeling and forecasting
    • aviation activity
    • airport rental car demand
    • airport parking demand
    • ground access mode choice
  • Airport market assessment
  • Benefit-cost analysis
  • Economic impact assessment
  • Survey research and data analysis
  • Data & visual analytics
  • Predictive & risk analytics

education

  • Ph.D. in economics, University of California, Irvine
  • M.A. in international and development economics (with honors), Yale University
  • M.A. in mathematical behavioral sciences, University of California, Irvine
  • Certificate (summa cum laude) – world banking/finance, The Economics Institute
Principal, Finance

Brian Drake

Brian Drake brings 12+ years of finance experience to the firm’s Airport Finance and Economic Practice. He specializes in feasibility studies, Rates and Charges and Lease Negotiations, and PFC applications. Mr. Drake also offers expertise in complex financial modeling and is adept at various forecasting techniques including sensitivity analysis of operating and capital budgets, as well as evaluating financial support for issuing bonds. Prior to joining Unison, Brian served as a Global Gasoline Trade Financial Control Analyst and a Financial Portfolio Advisor for British Petroleum.

Brian loves the challenge of creating complex models to project detailed answers for his clients.

areas of expertise

  • Airport Financing Strategies
  • Airline Negotiations
  • Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Applications
  • Rates and Charges Development
  • Non-traditional Funding Methods Identification and Implementation
  • Master Plan Development

education

  • MBA, Finance and Strategic Management, Purdue University
  • BA, Finance, Howard University
Director, Airport Retail Concessions

Firelli Pitters

Ms. Pitters brings 20 years of extensive experience in airport concession planning-development, and implementation, as well as research. With Unison, Ms. Pitters has been involved with numerous terminal development projects, working closely with airport staff and architects to develop concession spaces and programming requirements for new terminal facilities. Her work includes developing and executing market and passenger research studies. Ms. Pitters leads Unison’s Market Research practice, and has completed numerous airport research projects. Ms. Pitters additionally served as a Principal Investigator for a key industry study for the Airport Cooperative Research Program regarding concession operations at the airport.

Prior to joining Unison, Ms. Pitters worked for a national retailer in Store Operations and Management where she proved to be a transformative executive. Ms. Pitters created and managed numerous management training and customer service programs for all levels of personnel and led several company-wide committees in an initiative to evolve the company’s organizational structure.

areas of expertise

  • Concession Planning and Programming
  • Traffic and Passenger Flow Analysis
  • Airport Surveys and Market Research
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Analysis and Development of Leasing/Management Methodologies
  • Merchandising & Marketing Plans

education

  • BS, Political Economics and Business Management, University of California (Berkeley)
Vice President, Airport Retail Concessions

Bhavesh Patel

Mr. Patel joined Unison Consulting in 2017 to take the reins of the firm’s non-aeronautical revenue programs planning and management discipline. Mr. Patel has more than 25 years of experience in developing all aspects of airport revenue programs that brings together airport, airline, public, and private sector experience. He brings to his consulting assignments, a multi-discipline approach and understanding of the issues faced by the many facets of the aviation industry.
Having spent his entire career within various sectors of the aviation industry, Mr. Patel’s expertise spans a broad range of business services that uniquely qualifies him to lead a distinguished team of industry professionals that assist clients by planning, implementing and managing a full portfolio of non-aeronautical revenue programs.
Mr. Patel is well suited to this role, having previously served as Chief Revenue Officer at Denver International Airport (DEN) within the Revenue Management Division. In that capacity, he managed a portfolio of business units that generated approximately $770M (exclusive of PFCs and CFCs) in annual revenues to the airport and directed a team of over 100 staff members across culinary, passenger and rental car services, as well as duty free and retail establishments. The role extended into oversight of airline affairs, airport real estate, parking and ground transportation services, and more. Prior to joining DEN, Mr. Patel served as the Director of Airport Concessions at Tampa International Airport, as the Manager of the Concession Development Program at San Diego International Airport, and he has held various positions at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, SH&E/CAM, General Electric Engine Services, Northwest Airlines, Tucson Airport Authority and the City of Phoenix Aviation Department.

His work has earned industry recognition with multiple awards—including Airport Minority Advisory Council 2015 Airport Concessions Innovation and Inclusion, Chairman’s Catalyst Award (DEN), Airport Revenue News 2014 Airport with the Best Overall Concessions Program (SAN), Airport Revenue News 2014 Airport with the Best Concessions Program Design, Medium Airport Division (SAN) and Airport Revenue News 2013 Best Concession Management Team Award (TPA).

areas of expertise

  • Non-Aeronautical Revenue Program Planning, Development, and Implementation
  • Strategic & Financial Planning
  • Data Analytics & Project Management
  • Market Analysis & Benchmarking
  • Business transformation
  • Program Outreach & Solicitation Strategies

education

  • BS in Aviation Management, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Six Sigma Greenbelt, General Electric
Director, Finance

Barry Molar

Mr. Molar has more than 45 years of experience in aviation, including 31 years in airport finance and federal airport regulatory requirements. Having worked as both a manager in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Airports and an aviation consultant, Mr. Molar is familiar with all aspects of federal airport financial assistance programs, including the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), passenger facility charges (PFCs) and the obligations (Assurances) associated with these programs. He brings to his consulting assignments as director of Unison’s Federal Assistance Maximization Practice an in-depth understanding of the issues facing airport executives in seeking federal assistance, and an in-depth understanding of the FAA’s approach to administering its airport financial assistance program. Mr. Molar has managed numerous consulting projects covering all aspects of federal airport finance assistance, including PFC applications, AIP letter of intent (LOI) applications, benefit cost analyses (BCAs) to support LOIs and significant AIP discretionary grant awards, and grant assurance requirements for use of airport revenue, airline rates and charges and disposal of airport property. Prior to joining Unison, Mr. Molar previously served in several capacities in the FAA’s Office of Chief Counsel and Office of Airports, most recently as Manager – Airports Financial Assistance Division. In his consulting capacity, Mr. Molar is able to apply both the perspective of airports applying for federal assistance and the perspective of the FAA in administering federal airport assistance programs to assist clients in developing innovative solutions.

Barry’s experience as an FAA airport program executive and an airport financial consultant enables him to provide valuable insight and recommend innovative solutions to help his airport clients achieve their goals and objectives for maximizing federal assistance.

areas of expertise

  • PFC Applications
  • AIP Grant Policies and Requirements
  • AIP LOI Applications
  • Contracting Requirements for AIP-Funded Projects
  • Federal Requirements for Airline Rates and Charges
  • Federal Requirements for Use of Airport Revenue, Including Financial Reporting Requirements
  • CARES Act Airport Financial Assistance

education

  • J.D, National Law Center, George Washington University
  • Admitted to Practice, District of Columbia; United States Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, First, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits
  • B.A. – Economics (Magna Cum Laude), Michigan State University
Director, Finance

Anthony Banks

Mr. Banks has more than 20 years of management and finance experience in both the public and private sectors. In particular, Mr. Banks has established his expertise in contract compliance, cost containment, business process evaluations, budget development, conducting fiscal and cost-benefit analyses, establishing financial auditing procedures, project management, and in reviewing systems and information technology for management and financial purposes. Additionally, he brings to each of his assignments a thorough knowledge of the governmental contracting requirements, business diversity and inclusion, and project management and planning. He has helped airports avoid million dollar loses by performing compliance audits on capital programs.

Anthony understands that projects can be managed efficiently while ensuring that all stakeholders including small and disadvantaged businesses are paid timely to prevent hardship and project delays. He provides valuable insight to clients and recommends solutions to help projects stay on schedule and within budget while ensuring that small and disadvantaged contractors are paid timely.

areas of expertise

  • Capital Budgeting and Planning
  • Capital Program Financial Controls
  • Contract Compliance Audit
  • Organizational Assessments
  • Organizational Diversity and Inclusion
  • Process and Policy Review and Documentation

education

  • MPA, Financial Management, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • BA, Political Science & Communications, Illinois State University
Director, Airport Retail Concessions

Joseph Crump

Mr. Crump has provided concession management and planning services to a number of Unison clients for more than 7 years. He works to develop revenue strategies for a variety of concessions including food and beverage service, retail, news and convenience, services and passenger amenities. Advertising, banking and communications concessions are part of his expertise. He oversees financial analysis and forecasting to monitor program sales and revenue performance, including reporting to airport and airline management. Mr. Crump additionally manages the development and implementation of program solicitations, outreach planning, request for proposal (RFP) evaluation, tenant selection and lease negotiations. In particular, Mr. Crump was the primary consultant on the 2015 Midway International Airport concessions redevelopment and expansion project. He has also completed work on passenger satisfaction and preference surveys, concession space requirement analysis, merchandising and program profitability analysis.
Joe previous experience as commercial banker prepared him to understand the underlying financial needs of airports to maximize non-aeronautical revenues, while balancing the financial risks concessionaires assume with each contract.

Joe’s concessions and banking experience allows him to focus on strategies that provide long term, risk focused solutions to airline and airport clients.

areas of expertise

  • Concessions Program Management
  • Concession Planning Financial Analysis
  • Benchmarking and Industry Analysis
  • Lease Development Solicitation
  • Development and Outreach Planning

education

  • BA., Business Administration, Florida A&M University

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