OSHKOSH, WIS. — EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower announced January 12, 2012, changes in the organization, which he believes will allow the 170,000-member organization to better fulfill its mission to grow participation in aviation. As part of a long-term strategic plan, EAA will be adding important capabilities, aligning its resources with strategic priorities, and changing personnel to meet those objectives.
Included among personnel changes are changes among the senior leadership of the organization, including bringing on EAA Young Eagles Cochairman, Jeff Skiles, as Vice President of “Chapters and Youth Education.” Skiles first got involved in EAA years ago as a member, and more recently as cochairman of EAA’s Young Eagles program following his successful landing of a U.S. Airways Airbus A320 (Flight 1549) on the Hudson River with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger on January 15, 2009. Skiles will be tasked with strengthening and expanding EAA’s global chapter network and youth education initiatives and programs.
Long-time EAA staffer, Steve Buss, who worked to build the Young Eagles program and annual auction for nearly a decade, and who was a regular host at Theatre in the Woods during AirVenture, has resigned.
Chad Jensen is the new manager of EAA’s Homebuilders Community, coming from an extensive homebuilding background. Jensen will be key in EAA’s initiative to increase EAA’s knowledge and information capabilities for homebuilders and the amateur-built segment of aviation. Jensen will have extensive involvement with EAA Flight Advisors and Tech Counselors.
Heidi Strand of Blue Door Consulting in Oshkosh, will lead the EAA Marketing Department on an interim basis, while EAA completes a search for a new Vice President of Marketing to replace Rick Larsen. Strand will lead EAA’s brand and marketing capabilities and will also be responsible for EAA’s digital media properties and strategy.
Former Flying magazine editor-in-chief, Mac McClellan, who joined EAA in 2010 as a contributor editor, has been named the director of publications, replacing Mary Jones, who will remain with EAA as executive editor of EAA publications. Steve Schapiro, who became senior editor of Sport Aviation in 2010, was among the 30 employees laid off, along with long-time EAA photo chief, Jim Koepinick; Robb McAllister of EAA video; E-publications manager and EAA radio head, Fareed Guyot; museum director, Alan Westby; and events manager, Matt Miller.
EAA Vice President, Adam Smith, who was previously responsible for EAA publications and was recently named Vice President of AirVenture features and attractions, has resigned. EAA is now looking to fill a new Vice President of AirVenture position.
“Much thought and collaboration has been invested in the reshaping process to make EAA a stronger organization, better equipped to lead aviation, and welcome the next generation of aviators,” Hightower said.
“This will strengthen our organization in several key areas to more effectively meet the needs of our members, donors and aviators. We’ve made these moves after spending the past year reviewing EAA’s operations to best align them with the organization’s goals, and listening to many EAA members and supporters regarding the most valued areas of EAA.”
Hightower, who became the third president in 2010, also became chairman of EAA and AirVenture in 2011, following the retirement of Tom Poberezny, son of EAA founder Paul Poberezny.
EAA employs about 200 people at its headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.