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Staff

Gene Cossey
Gene Cossey is the Executive Director of the University of Illinois — Willard Airport and has been with the Airport since December of 2015. Gene has worked aviation operations management since he was 19 years old and has held positons at five airports spanning over 28 years. Prior to coming to Willard Airport, Gene was the Director of Operations at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and before that he was the Director of Airside Operations at the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport. Up until this point, the majority of Gene’s Career was spent on the Oregon Coast where he was the Operations Manager, Director of Information Technology at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport, and Airport Director and the Newport Municipal Airport.

Gene holds a Bachelor’s degree from Linfield College in McMinnville Oregon majoring in Business Management and Information Systems Design. He also is an Accredited Airport Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives and is an International Airport Professional with the Airport Councils International. Currently, Gene is obtaining the University of Illinois Springfield’s Masters of Public Administration degree.

Gene loves outdoor activities including competing in triathlons and running events as well as riding bikes and motorcycles for pleasure. He likes to be active in the community and participates regularly in local events.

Nathan Lilly
Nathan Lilly joined Willard in March of 2017 as the Associate Director of Finance and Administration. Nathan came from Crawford, Murphy, & Tilly (CMT) where he worked as an airport consultant in finance and planning. Nathan holds a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University. In addition Nathan is an active member of the Finance and Administration Committee for the Association of Accredited Airport Executives (AAAE), and an active member of the Finance Committee for the Airport’s Council International – North America (ACI-NA).

Tim Bannon currently serves as the Assistant Director of Operations and Maintenance at Willard Airport, a position he filled in February of 2018. Previously, Tim served as the Assistant Airport Director at Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport in Bullhead City, AZ. Prior to his position in Bullhead City, Tim held airport positions including Operations Officer at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Operations specialist at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in Columbia, South Carolina.

Tim graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Master of Public Administration degree, a bachelor of science degree in Aviation Management, and an associate degree in Applied Science in Aviation Flight. At the time of completing graduate studies, Tim served as a Graduate Assistant for the Southern Illinois Airport Authority. Tim is a commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings.

In March of 2017, Tim earned his Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) designation through the American Association of Airport Executives. Previously, Tim has served as an Executive Director for the Arizona Airports Association (AzAA), as well as the Legislative Committee Chair for the Southwest Chapter of the  American Association of Airport Executives (SWAAAE).

John Riegel
John Riegel is the Airport Fire Chief. He began his work as chief in September of 2012, working as a Crash Rescue Coordinator and Specialist since 2000. John is also the interim Director of Operations, the Wildlife Hazard Coordinator, and the Airport Security Coordinator. John has an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. John loves spending time with his beautiful wife, Dawn, and their three wonderful boys.

Ashley Hipsher joined Willard Airport in February of 2018 as the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications. She manages the marketing plan, airport advertising, public relations, and media outreach. She previously worked for the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. She holds her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Illinois State University. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys do-it-yourself projects, following her favorite sports teams, binge watching Netflix shows, shopping and spending time with her friends and family, especially her husband, Nick and their sons, Weston, Nash, and Beau.

Jessica Pike

Jessica Pike is the Office Manager. She began working for the University at Willard Airport in 2006 as an Office Assistant. Jessica is also part of the airport security team, the most likely face to make your airport security badge. Her favorite part about working at Willard is all the different people she gets to interact with daily. When she’s not working, she’s spending time with her husband and three children.

Teresa Adams
Teresa Adams is an Account Technician II and began working with Willard Airport in April of 2015. Prior to that time, her roles at the University consisted of working for the Office of International Programs as an Office Manager, and she began her university career working in the Office of the Provost in January 2005. Prior to working for the university, she worked in medical management for Carle for 5 years and worked 11 years as an Office Manager and Medical Transcriptionist with Crawford and Company. She is very creative, a published poet and an interior decorator, and she enjoys remodeling homes.