exceed $35 million. That’s lots of
numbers to make the point that
it isn’t “opinion” that AAAE’s
business model and culture have
succeeded — it’s “fact” with
How did that success happen?
The volunteer leaders and staff
for the past three decades worked
every day to build a culture of growth
and success aimed at serving the
members. We created a culture to look for ways
in which AAAE could add value in the airport
marketplace that were also within our not-for-profit purposes. “Culture” is an easily used word
these days, but it is, in reality, hard to create
and protect one aligned with an organization’s
goals. Culture has to survive changes in people,
business, politics, technology, time and more.
AAAE’s culture has managed to get stronger, year
by year, and challenge by challenge.
I’m very proud of the AAAE staff’s part in
that decades-long endeavor, but the truly crucial
factor has been the volunteer leaders’ support
and persistence. Those elected leaders chose the
policies that led to AAAE’s success, defended
them when others disagreed, and stuck with them
for more than 30 years to create the success that
we now take for granted as today’s AAAE. Those
elected leaders are the people to thank for the
institution that we find today, one with a solid
foundation for the future and more resources
and services than most of us dreamed could be
possible when we started the journey.
Now it’s time for a new generation of staff and
volunteer leaders to take over and steer AAAE
to greater accomplishments — perhaps different
accomplishments in different forms than the ones
my generation worked on. But whatever they may
be, I hope you all get to look back after 30 more
years and find AAAE’s successes way beyond
what we can imagine today.
I haven’t discussed the legislative, policy
and other representative successes AAAE has
enjoyed in Washington. Or, the privileges I’ve
enjoyed serving the industry in some unique
roles along with some of the legends of aviation
and government. These policy achievements and
honored positions will be the core of my valued
memories of this tenure. But I believe institutions
succeed on culture, not past successes and not
individuals. So in saying “goodbye,” I most
wanted to relay the lesson I have learned over
time for organizations with staying power. Focus
on the institution’s foundation and resources first
— success or failure in current events will not last
in a place like Washington. In Washington, great
positions and smart people without significant,
consistent resources to compete don’t get very far.
I know it seems like nothing gets very far in
Washington these days, but I predict that the
current dysfunction eventually will pass and
persistence always will be the industry’s best
Washington strategy — persistence with the
resources to support it.
So my parting wish is that the newer members
of AAAE see the value that’s been created with
a unique business model and a culture to match.
These are proven assets worth continuing no
matter the changes that may be needed ahead
for AAAE and its partners. Fierce support and
commitment to successful core principles, while
also accepting the reality of change, are needed
in today’s world if you expect to succeed at any
business — whether your business’s profits go to
shareholders or not-for-profit purposes.
My final comment is “thank you.” The ride has
been fantastic and more than I could have ever
imagined. It’s the friends and colleagues I’ve made
along the way that are the greatest treasure. I’m off
to do lots of fun, new stuff that I’ve wanted to do
for a while, but I still will miss you all greatly. I
hope AAAE’s best days are ahead. Thanks!
“Culture” is an easily used word
these days, but it is, in reality, hard to
create and protect one aligned with
an organization’s goals. Culture has to
survive changes in people, business,
politics, technology, time and more.