EAA announces major reorganization, leadership changes

January 13, 2012

EAA announced Jan. 12 a major reorganization of senior management and a new commitment to its core mission: “growing participation in aviation.”

The restructuring includes job eliminations, transfer of some responsibilities, and creation of new positions within the organization that runs the nation’s largest airshow, AirVenture, and employs nearly 200 people, EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said. Published reports citing elimination of 30 jobs overall, and a net reduction of roughly half that number, contain inaccuracies, Knapinski said, though he declined to be specific about the number of positions created or eliminated.

The reorganization followed a strategic review led by EAA President Rod Hightower, who became the 170,000-member organization’s third president in 2010. Hightower assumed more responsibilities in 2011 following the retirement of Tom Poberezny, son of EAA founder Paul Poberezny, from the role of chairman.

Hightower said in a press release that the reorganization followed careful consideration of strategic priorities, with the investment of “much thought and collaboration.” 

“This will strengthen our organization in several key areas to more effectively meet the needs of our members, donors and aviators,” Hightower said. “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.”

In September, EAA announced management changes including the hiring of former Flying Editor in Chief Mac McClellan as the new EAA director of publications. Adam Smith, who previously oversaw the association's publications, was named vice president of AirVenture features and attractions.

Smith is no longer with the organization, Knapinski said. “That was a personal choice.”

EAA has created a new position, vice president, AirVenture, to oversee the event to be held July 23 to 29 this year. Knapinski said the position has yet to be filled, though preparations for the 2012 edition of AirVenture are well under way, and the show remains central to EAA’s mission:

“Growing participation in aviation,” Knapinski said. “It’s that simple. You want to shape the organization to make sure that you can put your resources to the places that they’ll be most effective.”

Among the new hires announced Jan. 12, “Miracle on the Hudson” co-pilot Jeff Skiles—previously co-chairman of the Young Eagles program and a Waco owner—was named vice president, chapters and youth education.

Knapinski said Skiles has tremendous name recognition within, as well as outside of the aviation community that will help draw interest in EAA’s 1,000 chapters and youth programs.

EAA announced Chad Jensen will serve as manager of EAA’s Homebuilders Community, serving a “core constituency” that is “a major part of the long-term strategic plan,” Knapinski said. Jensen, with extensive experience as a homebuilder and aviator, will preside over a team of flight advisors and technical counselors.

EAA plans to continue working with AOPA on government advocacy, and also to enhance its various publications—including an upgrade of its digital media presence.

“Those are the areas that our members find the most valuable,” Knapinski said. “Those are the areas that we’re looking at to fortify the most.”

Jim Moore

Jim Moore | Online Associate Editor, AOPA

AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.