Two Diversity Promotions which should elevate Aviation’s Future

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Contributing to the Future of Aviation

Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison & Carl Newman

Aviation, as with all economic endeavors, benefits from increasing diversity. Promoting people with different perspectives necessarily adds to our industry’s ability to better serve all customers. The selection of Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison as the first woman and non-pilot to Chair OBAP and President Barack Obama appointment of Carl Newman to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council are excellent stories of this effort.

Ms. Blacknall-Jamison, with some encouragement from her mother, began her career as a Flight Attendant for Braniff International, quickly was promoted to a supervisor and then took her talents to New York Air, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines. The last airline recognized that her skills were not confined to the back of the airplane and promoted her to recruit pilots (1985-2008). Unfortunately, the company downsized and cut her job. Soon thereafter the FAA hired her as a leadership coach and change management adviser on the flight standards leadership development team. She currently leads the agency’s leadership development team.

This is one of the slides which she uses in her leadership coaching:

future of aviation

future of aviationHer new role at the Organization of Black Airline Professionals (started in 1976 as the Organization of Black Airline Pilots) will be to take this group to the next level. Based on her successful history, she will energize OBAP’s initiatives. The goal of these programs is to increase the number of Black Professionals, historically underrepresented, in this industry. Her work at United and now the FAA, Ms. Blacknall-Jamison knows training, education and mentorship—the key tools for OBAP’s mission. The organization is best known for its annual professional conference and “career exposition,” along with Project Aerospace, its youth recruitment program that includes the signature Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy. The summer program exposes students ages 14 to 18 to opportunities in aerospace and aviation.

“Our focus is cradle to career — cradle might seem a little young, but we firmly believe that you have to start early,” said Blacknall-Jamison of the ACE program that helped nearly 3,000 youths in 2016 through 28 academies in the U.S., including Puerto Rico and St. Croix. “So many kids don’t know all of the careers available to them. We want to expose them early and often to all of the wonderful opportunities available to them. We’re committed to preparing the workforce for the future of aerospace.”

As the USC Alumni Association tweeted:

future of aviation

It’s likely she will. One of the black pilots whom she recruited for United, endorsed her selection noting that but for her efforts, he would never have been a United pilot.

future of aviation

Case #2: Carl Newman, the CEO of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, will serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which provides the Secretary of Homeland Security with advice on the security of the critical infrastructure sectors and their information systems. Mr. Newman will be one of 30 members from private industry, academia, and state and local government.

jackson hawkins airports

Mr. Newman serves as the current chairman of the American Association of Airport Executives and brings more than 30 years of experience in airport management to NIAC. Newman said he looks forward to advising the council to help protect critical infrastructure. Specifically, Mr. Newman and his council colleagues are charged with:

  1. Enhance the partnership between the public and private sectors in securing and enhancing the security and resilience of critical infrastructure and their functional systems, physical assets and cyber networks, and providing reports on this issue to the President through the Secretary of Homeland Security, as appropriate;
  1. Propose and develop ways to encourage private industry to perform periodic risk assessments and implement risk reduction programs;
  1. Monitor the development and operations of critical infrastructure sector coordinating councils and their information sharing mechanisms and provide recommendations to the President through the Secretary of Homeland Security on how these organizations can best foster improved cooperation among the sectors, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other Federal Government entities;
  1. Report to the President through the Secretary of Homeland Security who shall ensure appropriate coordination with the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; and,
  1. Advise sector specific agencies with critical infrastructure responsibilities, to include issues pertaining to sector and government coordinating councils and their information sharing mechanisms.

Much has been reported about attempts at hacking airline, airport and FAA (NextGen) systems. Newman’s experience should provide invaluable insight into the aviation infrastructure’s strengths, vulnerabilities and best practices. Indeed, his work at AAAE should provide great examples of how the public and private cooperation have worked.

jackson airport

His airport is subject to a contentious, litigative battle. It will be interesting to see if his appointment to this prestigious council will impact that controversy over control of the airport.

These two elevations should contribute to the future of aviation.

 


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