Sun. Sep 25th, 2022


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DIA keeps former CFO as consultant in $20,000-a-month contract

2 min read

Meet the high-paid consultant who will advise Denver International Airport after the departure of its chief financial officer — the former CFO herself.

Gisela Shanahan, who stepped down in early August after serving in that position for five years, is shifting into work as an aviation industry consultant. DIA last week signed a contract with New York City-based Frasca & Associates, her new employer, that’s worth up to $468,000 over two years.

That amounts to a $19,500-a-month retainer, though the ultimate payment will depend on the total billable work done by Shanahan and two other employees approved for the contract.

Shanahan made slightly more at DIA, where her final annual salary was about $242,000, a spokesperson said.

It’s not uncommon for top city appointees who leave their jobs to be paid for project work or as consultants. But in granting a waiver ahead of time, the Denver Board of Ethics said the arrangement was unusual because it was with Shanahan’s new employer, rather than with her directly.

DIA’s intent is to keep Shanahan involved in financial planning, its management of billions of dollars worth of projects — including the underfunded Great Hall terminal renovation — and other accounting matters.

“DEN has made the decision to contract with Gisela Shanahan in an advisory role during this time of transition while we conduct a national search for her replacement,” CEO Kim Day said in a statement to The Denver Post. “This is so we can continue to have access to necessary fiscal expertise and guidance during this interim period, and especially during the challenges DEN is facing throughout this pandemic.”

This year’s fall-off in air travel has delivered a hit to the airport’s budget. Day said the pandemic also was likely to slow down recruiting for the “critical position,” so it might take a year or longer to have someone in place and brought up to speed.

For now, George Karayiannakis, a senior vice president, is serving as acting deputy CFO.

Frasca already has a separate city contract to advise officials, including at DIA, on bond issuances. The ethics board’s Aug. 27 waiver letter said Shanahan’s contracting arrangement wouldn’t violate revolving-door restrictions because she didn’t play a role in the awarding of that contract by the city’s finance department, and she didn’t oversee it.

Shanahan, now a managing director at Frasca, said when she left DIA that she and her husband planned to spend more time with family members based on the East Coast.

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