A Legacy of Service – Charles T. Sullivan
Vol.5 Issue 1
Charles T. Sullivan, Program Director, Office of Facility Management retires after 32 years of service.

Charles T. Sullivan’s professional career began when he was in his last year of graduate school at the University of Oklahoma (OU) studying in the School of Architecture. He was hired as an intern architect at Binnicker Associates, an architectural and engineering firm located in Oklahoma City. Upon graduation from OU in 1978, he was promoted to an associate position in the firm. In 1976, working as the Vice-President of Production and Design, he opted to expand his career, and accepted a position as the Manager of the Architecture and Engineering Division for the Federal Aviation Administration at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. In 1999, he was promoted to Program Director for the Office of Facility Management.

Throughout his career, Charles was instrumental in achieving numerous accolades for himself and the Aeronautical Center. In late 1980, he became eligible to take the Oklahoma State Board of Governors Licensing Exam for Professional Architects after serving the required apprenticeship upon graduation. On February 9, 1981, the Board of Governors presented him his Architecture License (No. 2001) to practice architecture in the State of Oklahoma. Then in 2015, Charles was presented with the prestigious FAA Golden Compass Award for Exemplary Leadership. In 2016, Charles was presented with the Department of Transportation Sustainability Champion Award for leading energy and water conservation efforts at the Aeronautical Center for over 29 years, resulting in a 50% reduction in consumption.

Charles was responsible for overseeing the 137 buildings and the physical space of the entire Aeronautical Center, on 1,057 acres of land, while ensuring a proper working environment - including its development and maintenance for nearly 6,300 federal and contract employees. He did all of this while also conforming to local zoning and environmental impacts and Presidential mandates. His career accomplishments include designing and constructing 71 new buildings on the Center’s grounds over a three decade time span. He’s provided oversight for 17 different remodels, not including the two buildings that are currently under renovation, (the Multi-Purpose Building, and the Base Maintenance Building.) Charles also put his artistic touch on several points of interest around the Center, including: the clock tower, the pavilion area with the globe; and helping secure the limited edition LearFan aircraft located in front of the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. After September 11, 2001 Charles was actively involved in rerouting MacArthur Boulevard and helping to make the facility more secure with prominent gates. He helped construct the esthetically pleasing entrance to the Center’s complex.

When Charles was asked which of the projects that he worked on were his favorite, he mentions designing and building the Day Care Center, the Aero Fitness Center, the Thomas P. Stafford Building, the Security Command Center, the Air Force Building, and the Headquarters Pavilion area. “I greatly enjoyed the more challenging projects, which provided opportunities for more creative solutions,” explains Charles.

Among special guests in attendance for the ceremony were former Aeronautical Center Director, Lindy Ritz (center) and former Deputy Director, Dick Rodine (right).

He personally provided leadership to over 300 employees in his organization. Charles has a knack for leading people, as was indicated by repeated high marks on annual FedView Surveys. Charles says that he admires individuals who are creative, honest, who demonstrate integrity, and are passionate about what they do. He lives by the mantra, “love what you do and do what you love.” Always challenged by deadlines and simultaneous projects, Charles notes that the main obstacle he faced in his career was always time management. He reflects back on a time when he was 16 years old and decided to work 3 summer jobs. His day began at the Oklahoma City Public Maintenance Department, where he put together new lockers for high schools. Then in the evenings, he spent his time umpiring little league baseball games. On Saturdays, he helped his father design and paint small, one-and-two engine aircraft (including the “N” numbers) at a private airport near Lake Stanley Draper in Southeast Oklahoma City. It was evident that Charles developed a strong work ethic and time management skills at an early age.

A man of faith, Charles always reserved Sunday as a day of rest, but during the work week he gave it his all. He faithfully reads and studies the Bible every day. His testament is shown by the relationships that he has developed throughout his career, characterized as a strong, caring, and fair leader. He also enjoys volunteering in his church and helping with various charitable organizations. For many years, he served on the Local Federal Campaign Committee for the Combined Federal Campaign. In the late 1990’s, Charles was known as “the man with the hair.” He had a perfectly styled coiffure, fitting for the time. During Easter, he volunteered to play Jesus at his church’s Easter pageant. It was quite the acting role, having to carry a heavy cross down the aisle, only to be crucified at the end of the service! Times have changed and so have hairstyles, so now Charles plays Santa Claus each year at Positive Changes, where his daughter is the Clinic Director to over 100 students with emotional and behavioral challenges.

For several years, Charles used his lunch break once a week, to serve as a reading and math mentor during the school year at Coolidge Elementary School. The program was called “Help One Student to Succeed” (HOSTS). Charles notes, “I was honored to give back to my community, especially since Calvin Coolidge is where I also attend 1st through 6th grade.” When Charles isn’t working or giving back to his community, he also enjoys playing golf, watching Indy and NASCAR racing, going to rock concerts, and doing arts and crafts projects with his grandkids – which, as of late involve unicorns.

Charles shares center stage with his wife at his retirement ceremony. Deborah also retired from the FAA a few years ago.

When asked how he plans to spend retirement, Charles replies, “I want to spend more time with my wife, my daughters, and son-in-law, and my two granddaughters. I plan to visit museums, see more movies, and get more sleep. He and his wife enjoy traveling, especially to the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii, and they always prefer travel by cruise ship.

From a young boy who wanted to be an Astronaut, Charles Sullivan has left quite a name for himself at the Aeronautical Center. Most everyone at the Center believes that Charles hung the moon. Such accolades may be close enough to stardom for this highly revered executive.

(L-R) Aeronautical Center Director, Michelle Coppedge provides Charles Sullivan with an honorary Mayoral Proclamation from OKC Mayor, David Holt.
(L-R) Making it official, Aeronautical Center Deputy Director, Kevin O’Connor provides Charles with his retirement certificate honoring his years of service.
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