Citizen Lax: Commissioner Walter Zifkin
Citizen Lax: Commissioner Zifkin loves to fly
When I wanted to get into public service in the city, I thought about infrastructure,” says Walter Zifkin, who serves of the Board of Airport Commissioners and has done so since 2004. “People keep moving to Los Angeles and the infrastructure trails behind the needs. I have an interest in that area and it’s fortuitous that there wound up being openings on the commission and that I got appointed to the post. I am happy to be doing it. It’s challenging and interesting and this commission is an outstanding group and will make a difference in terms of doing the things that need to be done.”
Zifkin, who moved to Los Angeles at the age of 11, is more than happy to do his part for the city he calls home. “I have a lot of pride in L.A.,” he says. “I feel fortunate that my parents moved out here in 1947. It’s a wonderful, vibrant city and I am happy to be able to do whatever I can do at this point in my life.”
A UCLA graduate who enjoyed a long tenure at the William Morris Agency, where he rose to the ranks of Corporate Vice President, Executive Vice President and eventually acted as Chief Operating Officer in 1989 and then served as the chief architect of the merger between Triad Artists and William Morris, which was the largest union of two agencies in entertainment history. He was the firm’s CEO and then named CEO Emeritus after his 40th anniversary with the company. Clearly, Zifkin has a long history of overseeing major projects and is therefore equipped with the tools, experience and intelligence to be on the BOAC.
As Zifkin began to “slow down” at his lifelong company, he began conversing with former L.A. mayor Jim Hahn about being active in the city, which lead to his first appointment to the Board of Airport Commissioners. He was reappointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and couldn’t be happier about it. As for what the Board of Airport Commissioners does, it’s a “semi-autonomous and proprietary” unit for LAWA, which governs LAX, Ontario, Palmdale and Van Nuys airports and it’s comprised of civic-minded members who are responsible for airport policy.
That may sound like bureaucratic language to the layperson, but Zifkin is in the thick of things, helping to make a trip to the airport a better experience for all those who pass through its halls. He says, “Aviation is magical. The business of flying is unbelievable. When I drive to the airport, seeing planes coming down or when I’m looking out the window on a clear day into distance, I can see the planes lined up and coming into LAX and it’s unbelievable. To watch LAX ‘work’ and all the people at LAX, who are part of LAWA , from the controllers to the security people, how all these different agencies come together to make this function in the way that it does is amazing. I’ve developed a great appreciation of that from being involved.”
With Walter Zifkin as part of the team guiding the airport into the next century, LAX is looking better than ever.