West Virginia International Yeager Airport board accepts resignation of airport director, approves new leader

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The board that oversees West Virginia International Yeager Airport has accepted the resignation of the airport director and named a new leader.

On Tuesday, following a near two-hour executive session during a special meeting, the board decided to accept the resignation of Nick Keller as director. The board then named Dominique Ranieri, previously the assistant director and COO, as the new director and CEO of the state’s busiest airport.

MetroNews was first to report that Keller submitted his resignation to airport board chairman Ed Hill Saturday morning.

Ed Hill

Board members did not give a reason for why Keller decided to resign suddenly. The public notice for a special meeting went out on Aug. 31. On the agenda was one item, “Discussion of personnel matters concerning West Virginia International Yeager Airport’s executive officers.”

When asked about circumstances around Keller’s resignation, including if the board would have let him go at the meeting if he didn’t resign, Hill said, “Our policy is to not discuss personnel matters.”

Hill said ‘yes’ when asked if it was fair to say that the airport has no financial irregularities. He also said Keller’s resignation had nothing to do with pending lawsuits.

Keller was named airport director and CEO at West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) in Sept. 2019, replacing the retiring Terry Sayre. He had been an assistant director since 2015.

Ranieri has been with CRW for five years and practiced law in Charleston before landing at the airport. Earlier this year, Ranieri became a Certified Member (C.M.) of the American Association of Airport Executives, a designation signifying diverse knowledge of the primary functions of airport operations.

Dominique Ranieri

“I am humbled and honored that the board feels that I am the person to carry forward the momentum that our airport is seeing today. I am excited and up for the challenge,” Ranieri said.

Hill said there is no contract for Ranieri and no interim tag. Keller was the first and only director that had a contract as director. Keller signed a 5-year employment agreement with the board in 2020 after about a year as executive director.

Hill noted that the board waived the 90-day notice that Keller had in his contract to contact the board about resigning from the position.

“We’re moving forward with a new director, our first female director. She is more than competent, well-qualified to take over this position and we look for great things to happen here,” Hill said of Ranieri.

“She has been here and serving as assistant director. She’s been in intimately involved in every project. She has proven herself to be more than capable.”

Hill said nothing is changing as far as plans and goals at CRW. Ranieri said she wants to keep the momentum going with projects such as expanding the Marshall University flight school and the potential new terminal.

She said that being the first female in the airport director position in CRW’s 75-year history will bring a different perspective. She said she wants to meet with all of the employees and discuss goals and the needs to get there.

“Our team is fantastic. They are the ones that make this place run day to day and are responsible for all of the great things that you see around the airport,” Ranieri said.

Ranieri will now have a salary of $200,000. She previously had a salary of $188,000 as assistant airport director. Keller was given a raise to $200,000 in Sept. 2021.

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