As President of NKI AMERICA INC., she helps shape the travel experiences of millions of passengers.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
President, NKI AMERICA INC.Favorite Professors: “Dr.Jerry Churchill, in whose lab I learned to be a logical thinker, and Professor Harry Brenowitz, who we called ‘Uncle Harry’ and was the driving force behind the Adelphi Institute of Marine Science, where I pursued my dream of being a marine biologist. Also, Madeline Lane, who showed me that anyone can appreciate and create art, and that mistakes don’t have to be failures.”
Favorite experiences: “In 1996, I was invited by the Russian Federation to the United Nations to participate in the historical restoration of Killenworth, the former George Dupont Pratt mansion owned by the Russian government in Glen Cove, New York.”
Advice to students: “Your education is important. Get your degree. Travel, see the world, understand that there are ways of thinking other than yours.”
Finding Science in Construction
On your next visit to an airport, take a moment to study the furnishings, the layout, and the design elements that make travel more comfortable and efficient. These are the tools of Valerie Ribaro’s trade.
As president of NKI AMERICA INC., part of the NKI GROUP, one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of airport interiors, she helps shape the travel experiences of millions of passengers. Equally at home in a construction site or design studio, the former biology student loves the excitement of the large-scale projects her firm conducts.
“Each construction zone is a study in evolution,” she says. “Everything is constantly growing and changing. Keeping everything in order and on-time is a giant challenge. I’ve learned to love being a problem solver, but it was my time in the science labs at Adelphi that taught me how to organize my tasks in a logical way.”
Ms. Ribaro has worked on numerous multi-million dollar projects including the North and South terminals of Miami International Airport, the new Jet BlueTerminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and her personal favorites, Harrisburg International Airport and Terminal 3 in Cancun Mexico. Her responsibilities vary from contract negotiations to budget monitoring, job site supervision to procurement.
An avid traveler, Ms. Ribaro embraces the challenge of making commercial flying more hospitable and pleasant. Her career in airports began with a passenger service position for Pan-American World Airways. At the time she had been working in a biophysics lab at the NYU Medical Center. On a chance trip to the airport, she was stopped by an airline executive who urged her to consider joining Pan-Am.
She soon put her scientific training to work and transitioned to the role of manager of weight and balance, overseeing the load distribution and weight management of each departing aircraft.
“I was a young manager at Pan-Am,” she says. “It was a wonderful learning experience, which ultimately led me to become a project manager in the Facilities division. Following a management buy-out at Delta Air Lines in the 1990s, I joined NKI.”
Ms. Ribaro came to Adelphi following her dream of becoming a marine biologist. She maintains that commitment to logic and precision in every project she undertakes. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, swimming, traveling, and vintage cars.
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