When one talks AVIATION, the first image which comes to mind is an AIRCRAFT; after all without such a vehicle, there is no flight. Upon second thought, what makes aviation do is our PEOPLE.
Recently, there have been a number of moves within the ranks of our industry, albeit all are within the Beltway. Yes, the policy folks are ONLY staff, but as important as the line positions are to operation, the policy wonks in Washington assure that the laws, rules and regulations defining flight are rational.
Mr. Schaffer’s resume is well recited in the FAA Press Release. The Associate Administrator for Airports is a political appointment. While the ARP function involves tremendous technical substance, the head of the organization is deeply involved in the decisions of whether and how much to fund an airport project with AIP dollars. The skills require command
- of finance, equal to an investment broker,
- of the AIP and FAR strictures, with Kate Lang as the definition of the professor of this knowledge base,
- of the complex covenants defining the flows and allocation of the capital as well as the risk-bearing parties, here the measure of merit is a partner of a Wall Street law firm
- the political acumen of the sensitivities of these economic development projects, a job worthy of the Chief of Staff for the House Speaker.
Kirk meets these criteria.
This is an unusually significant appointment for two reasons; (i) Infrastructure is a prominent plank in the President’s agenda during these two years that lead up to the next election and (ii) the FAA political cadre is being built from the bottom up.
- 1st Deputy Administrator (Acting Administrator) Dan Elwell
- 2nd Greg Martin was appointed Assistant Administrator for Communications
- 3rd Charles M. Trippe, Jr. as Chief Counsel
Those are usually selections made by the Administrator; by creating an executive political team BEFORE the “CEO” is appointed seems to say that the powers to be have a high level of confidence in these key players in the FAA operation.
Kirk’s reinsertion as ARP-1 means that someone well familiar with the real world of airports will be making the executive decisions.
The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) occupies a unique position in the Washington aeropolitical world. Its members are drawn from the rosters of all 50 of the states’ aviation departments. They are members of the Governors’ Executive Branch where they are involved in GA, BA and commercial operations, but typically their primary focus is one airport funding.
NASAO is not armed with major PAC $, but their members have excellent access to their Senators and Representatives. Coordination, or speaking vernacularly “speaking on the same page”, is its most effective function.
NASAO’s legendary Henry Ogrodzinski was a master of finding allies and incrementally advancing the interests of the State Aviation interests. Shelly Simi has a career path that will emulate the Henry O talents. She has experience working for Aurora Flight Services, Boeing, Jeppesen, Adam Aircraft, GAMA and FedEx. That’s a career path, which created a nonpareil Rolodex or technologically hip- Outlook Contacts, so vital to her NASAO mission.
Brilliant choice NASAO!!!
The talent needed to provide the technical expertise for an aviation trade association is difficult to find and even harder to retain. First it is vital to find staff, who can listen to the members. It is not just hearing their concerns but translating the jargon used in the operational environment into the language of the regulator. The targets of employment are folks who can successfully communicate between the stakeholders and the FAA and then convey the message back to the field,
Having found people with such skills, it is the job of the association’s HR executives to compensate these individuals who are in demand and to do so within a multi-layered organization. Knowing what package of compensation, benefits and working conditions will keep them home without busting the budget is truly a skill.
Holly Clark, SHRM-SCP, CCP was a master of those skills. During her tenure NBAA’s already talented staff continued in a pattern of steady growth and only suffered minimal attrition of valued talent.
As her boss, Ed Bolen, noted:
“Holly brought these leadership experiences, and a host of other assets, to her focused implementation of HR best practices at NBAA,” said association President and CEO Ed Bolen. “Her work has touched upon benefits we all relate to, including medical care, performance-based compensation and retirement savings.” Bolen noted that for her work in NBAA’s retirement-benefits area, Clark was recognized as 2017 Plan Fiduciary of the Year by AFS 401(k) Retirement Services.
“From the professional excellence of our staff, to the quality of our training, benefits and more, Holly has been instrumental in helping make NBAA the world-class association it is today,” Bolen added.
“Holly helped set the bar high at NBAA with standards for professionalism, and in handling all aspects of our human resources programs with great expertise, commitment, and concern for our employees,” Bolen concluded. “Simply put, Holly has laid a remarkable foundation for us to build upon – our people, processes and culture are a reflection of, and tribute to, Holly’s commitment to excellence.”
Holly’s talents tend to be characterized as “back-of-the-office”. If you assesses NBAA’s current level of talent, one has to credit her with the superior technical expertise the association has had for her time at the association. That’s a formula for success.
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