As the Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs (A&I/A), Joel Szabat leads staff that: negotiates agreements for US air carriers to operate internationally; licenses all foreign and domestic air carriers to operate in the United States; rules on airline merger and joint venture requests; manages the Essential Air Service and Small Community Air Service Development grant programs; and coordinates international activities and policy for the Secretary across DOT. Joel was the Executive Director of the Maritime Administration, from 2012, before joining A&I/A in January, 2018.
Joel joined the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2002. His previous positions include Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS), Transportation Policy; DAS, Management and Budget; and DAS Aviation & International Affairs. He was the federal official responsible for DOT’s $48.1 billion share of the Recovery Act in 2009. In 2005, he oversaw the US government’s reconstruction of Iraqi airports, ports and railroads. Joel was the Chief of Staff for the Small Business Administration from 2006-2008, after which he returned to DOT.
During the Cold War Joel commanded tank units along the East-West German border. He has worked as a management consultant in the private sector, as a transportation staffer in the California State legislature, and in the US Environmental Protection Agency. He graduated from Georgetown University and Harvard Business School. His wife, Chiling Tong, is a prominent Asian Pacific American activist. Together they established a foundation to promote the civic awareness, involvement and effectiveness of Asian Pacific Americans.