Walt Gillfillan Award

The Walt Gillfillan Award is presented annually at the UC Davis Aviation Noise and Emissions Symposium (ANES) to an individual(s) or organization whose exemplary achievements and contributions in noise mitigation and/or emissions reduction in commercial or general aviation deserve recognition by their peers.  The Award honors Walter (Walt) E. Gillfillan, who founded the Aviation Noise Symposium (now the Aviation Noise and Emissions Symposium) in 1985.  This is a unique award in that there is no other similar recognition at any other academic institution or aviation environmental forum.

We are sorry to share that the 2024 Gillfillan Award has been cancelled. We apologize for the inconvenience and are incredibly grateful to all the past recipients of the award.

About Walt Gillfillan

Walt Gillfillan

Walter (Walt) E. Gillfillan was a transportation planning consultant for over 40 years with a practice focused on airport issues.  He was a national leader in facilitating community dialogue with airports and other relevant stakeholders, regarding community noise impacts from airport and aircraft operations at both general aviation and commercial service airports.  In opening that dialogue, he realized that there was an “airport noise mitigation institutional void”: no one institution (airport proprietor, airlines, the FAA, or local governments) had the authority or responsibility to comprehensively address airport noise issues on a local, state, or federal level.  This lack of an institutional resource left the public and local communities with nowhere to go to seek assistance and relief from airport and aircraft noise impacts. 

To fill the institutional void, Walt created the airport community roundtable concept in the late 1970s/early 1980s.  This simple approach was based on a foundation of inclusion – all stakeholders were invited and encouraged to participate in the dialogue to address the issues.  The roundtable model provided individuals and communities with an institution (public forum) at which to express their complaints and concerns regarding aircraft noise issues and a formal body to identify and pursue feasible actions to address them.  

The roundtable format also created an environment for civil collaboration and cooperation.  The stakeholders embraced the opportunity to work together to pursue actionable solutions to mitigate aviation noise impacts.  Walt was instrumental in the formation and operation of long running and effective airport community roundtables at SFO, LAX and Centennial Airport, a busy general aviation facility near Denver, Colorado.

Walt founded the symposium in 1985 through the UC Berkeley Continuing Educations Department.  It later came under the Technology Transfer Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies and then under the UC Davis Air Quality Research Center in 2006 where it remains today.  Walt used the term “symposium” to emphasize the interactive nature of the event, at which community members, aircraft operators, airport proprietors, aviation consultants, local government staff, and government regulators could openly discuss aircraft noise and emissions concerns and share best practices from across the United States and throughout the world.  Walt continued to help advise and run the event until his retirement in 2011.

Walt was known for his inclusive style managing the symposium planning meetings as well as his enthusiasm eliciting audience questions and answers throughout the event.  He is widely remembered for his lively evening soirées!


Any person(s) or organization contributing to pursue airport/aircraft noise mitigation and/or aviation emissions reduction is eligible to be nominated to receive the Walt Gillfillan Award.  The nomination must describe how the efforts and activities of the nominee(s) meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Made a valuable contribution to aircraft noise and emissions
  • Been a leader, innovator, or key strategist who has improved our understanding of the science underpinning the field
  • Advanced the technology
  • Crafted better policy
  • Drafted balanced regulations
  • Worked to improve communications among stakeholders
  • Provided clear and understandable legal interpretations
  • Inspired others to do any or all of the above

Any one can nominate a person(s) or organization for the Gillfillan Award, including a self-nomination, but please note that previous award recipients are not eligible to receive a second award. The nomination information should include enough detail to clearly describe why the nominee(s) is/are worthy of receiving the Award.

The deadline to submit nominations is set by UC Davis. This year, nominations are open from November 22, 2023 - December 20, 2023.

Nomination Process

The nomination process is meant to be simple and straightforward. For the 2025 year, there will be a short, online form for you to submit a nomination. 

Selection of Award Recipient(s)

The nominations for the Walt Gillfillan Award are reviewed by a volunteer committee of stakeholders, some of whom are previous Gillfillan Award recipients.  Based on the content of the nomination information, the committee members, by consensus, select a nominee(s) that best fits the criteria for receipt of the Award.  The Award is presented to the selected recipient(s) during the Symposium Program.

Past Recipients 


Walter (Walt) Gillfillan
Transportation Planning Consultant; founder of the Symposium


Arlene Mulder
Chairperson, O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC)


David Southgate
Head of Aviation Environmental Policy, Department of Transport & Regional Services, Australia


Neal Phillips
Manager, Noise Abatement, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority(MWAA) 


Mary Ellen Eagan
President, Harris Miller Miller and Hansen, Inc. (HMMH)

2011 FAA Office of Environment and Energy

Anne Kohut
Founder and Editor of Airport Noise Report (ANR) and Aviation Emissions Report (AER) newsletters


Mary Vigilante
Founder and CEO, Synergy Consultants, Inc.


Dan Frazee
Director, Airport Noise Mitigation, San Diego International Airport


James Crites
Executive Vice President of Operations, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Sandra Lancaster
Environmental Program Manager, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)


Sanford Fidell
President, Fidell Associates, Inc.

Armando Tovar
Noise Abatement Officer, Raleigh-Durham International Airport


David Carbone
Airport land use compatibility planner; former Coordinator/Program Manager for the San Francisco International Airport/Community Roundtable

Mike Kenney
Vice President, KB Environmental Sciences, Inc.


Dr. Lourdes Maurice
Aviation consultant; former Executive Director of the FAA Office of Environment and Energy

Scott Tatro
Airport Environmental Manager, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)


Dylan Heberlein
Senior Planner, Noise/Environmental, Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority, Colorado

Mike Fronapfel
Director of Planning and Development, Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority, Colorado

Arlene Juracek
Chairperson, O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC)


Andrew Harris
Founder and former President of Harris Miller Miller and Hanson, Inc. (HMMH)


Vince Mestre
Semi-Retired; former Associate Vice President, Landrum and Brown; former Principal, Mestre Greve Associates

Paul Dunholter
Founder and CEO, BridgeNet International


Steve Alverson 
Retired, Former Senior Vice-President & National Airports Practice Leader, Environmental Science Associates (ESA)

Daniel McGregor
Former Technology Leader, Airport and Community Noise Engineering Group, The Boeing Company