Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly by promoting an environment that gives people of all ages the opportunity to enjoy aviation and all it has to offer. As the world’s largest community of pilots and aviation enthusiasts, AOPA can connect reporters with in-house experts on a variety of aviation topics.Read more about AOPA
YCF Highschool Program
Sun N' Fun 2019
Sun N' Fun 2021
When: July 26 - Aug 1, 2021
Where: Oshkosk, WI
When: April 13 - 18, 2021
Where: Lakeland, FL
Mark R. Baker joined AOPA in 2013 as president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world’s largest civil aviation organization.
A native Minnesotan, Baker earned his pilot certificate in his twenties and has logged more than 10,000 hours of flight time in aircraft ranging from light seaplanes to turbines and helicopters.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Baker has served on numerous corporate boards and has taken leadership roles with several nonprofit organizations.
Before his appointment at AOPA, Baker served in numerous senior executive roles, including CEO of Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corporation, a leading retailer of home improvement and garden products. Baker also served in senior executive roles at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Gander Mountain Company, and The Home Depot. Earlier in his career, he also worked for HomeBase, Scotty’s Home Improvement Centers, and Knox Hardware and Lumber.
In conjunction with his role as president and CEO of AOPA, Baker is chairman of AOPA’s Political Action Committee; chief executive officer for the AOPA Foundation; president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, representing pilots in 81 countries; and publisher of AOPA Pilot, the world’s largest and most influential aviation publication.
Greg Cohen serves as the Senior Vice President of Administration, overseeing Human Resources, AOPA Aviation Finance, Pilot Information Services and Member Services, Facilities, Office Services, Finance & Accounting, and Information Technology.
A native of New Jersey, Cohen is an instrument-rated private pilot, soloed at 16, and earned his certificate at 17.
Cohen is a certified public accountant, holds an MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from Franklin & Marshall College.
Prior to rejoining AOPA in 2016 as Vice President of Human Resources, Cohen worked for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Dulles International Airport, Reagan National Airport, and the Dulles Toll Road. Other prior experience includes working for ACS State & Local Solutions (later acquired by Xerox), and for the mutual fund giant Vanguard Group.
Cohen’s previous experience at AOPA, which first began in 2006, includes various positions within the Finance division.
Jim Coon is the Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Advocacy, where he is responsible for the implementation of AOPA’s political, legislative, and regulatory initiatives and policies before Congress, federal agencies, and state legislatures.
Jim joined AOPA in 2014, lives in Falls Church, Virginia and is a student pilot.
He received a degree in Urban Planning from Virginia Tech and served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army Reserves and Virginia Army National Guard.
Prior to joining AOPA, Jim had over three decades of experience working with Congress and the aviation industry. He held the role of Staff Director for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for several years and served as Staff Director on the Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee. During his 25-year tenure on Capitol Hill, he played a large role in crafting major transportation legislation and was recognized by Roll Call as one of the top five transportation staffers to know. Additionally, Jim is a board member of the Aero Club of Washington and served in leadership roles for the National Air Transportation Association, the Boeing Company, and the Air Transport Association (now A4A).
Thomas B. Haines was appointed senior vice president and editor in chief of AOPA Publications in July 1994 and named senior vice president of Media in December 2009 and currently holds the title of Editor in Chief and Senior Vice President of Media, Communications, and Outreach. He manages a staff of 35 writers, editors, graphic artists, photographers, videographers, event planners, communications experts, and support personnel.
A native of Pennsylvania, Haines earned his pilot certificate in his late teens and has logged more than 4,000 hours. He has a commercial pilot certificate with multiengine, instrument, and seaplane ratings, and holds type ratings in the Eclipse 500 and Cessna CJ business jets and has a second-in-command type rating in the North American B-25 Mitchell. He owns a Beech A36 Bonanza.
Haines holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Mount St. Mary’s University and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a Communications Media minor from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Prior AOPA experience includes executive editor and vice president, senior editor, and associate editor of AOPA Pilot Magazine.
As part of his role at AOPA, Haines oversees the publication of AOPA Pilot magazine, the world’s largest aviation magazine; Flight Training magazine, a magazine specifically for student pilots and flight instructors; the weekly AOPA ePilot electronic newsletter; the Flight Training edition of ePilot, AOPA Online; and the association’s video-on-demand channel, AOPA Live. Under his leadership, the media properties have won many industry-leading awards. His writing has earned him awards from the Associated Press and American Society of Business Publication Editors. In 2010, at the Cacique Awards, the Bahamian government named Haines as its Travel Writer of the Year.
Haines is often sought out for his publishing and aviation expertise. He often speaks at regional and national publishing conferences and has appeared on news shows at NBC, CNN, and MSNBC. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Businessweek, and many other national publications. He is regularly asked to comment on aviation podcasts and radio shows.
Justine Harrison joined AOPA in 2019 and serves as AOPA’s general counsel and corporate secretary, leading the Legal Department and overseeing AOPA’s Legal Services Plan, which serves more than 66,000 members.
Harrison is a commercial rated pilot and flies aircraft ranging from an AirCam experimental she co-built to a Lear 75.
Harrison earned her Bachelor of Science from Cornell University, and her Juris Doctor from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Prior to joining AOPA, Harrison ran her own law firm for a decade after serving as general counsel, senior vice president of external affairs, and corporate secretary of the Nevada Cancer Institute.
She previously served as a director for the Nevada Cancer Institute, the Nevada Business Aviation Association, and Angel Flight West, and as a member of EAA’s Legal Advisory Council.
Jiri Marousek joined AOPA in 2014 and is the senior vice president of Marketing, where he oversees marketing and membership, advertising, partnerships, websites, social media, and products.
A native of Czech Republic, Marousek earned his private pilot certificate in 2015 and is currently enjoying taking trips with his son in a Cessna 182 and has seaplane and tailwheel endorsements.
Marousek earned a degree in Commercial Economics and International Business from Rotterdam Business School, executive MBA at the University of Wisconsin, and completed the senior executive program at Stanford University.
Prior to joining AOPA, Marousek led the global digital marketing for Brand USA working in Europe, China, and the United States. Before that, he served in executive leadership and was a partner at several global advertising agencies, leading digital marketing and innovation for Kellogg’s, LL Bean, Unilever, Nestle, Briggs & Stratton, GE, Saris Cycling, SC Johnson, and Kohler.
Marousek was also the founder of several technology startups working with brands such as Harley-Davidson, CycleOps, Nobles Weapon Systems, and Buell Motorcycles, building innovative technologies including some of the first-to-market connected devices, data security, and social based learning.
Richard McSpadden was appointed executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute in February 2017 and was promoted to senior vice president in July 2020. He currently leads a team of certified flight instructors and content creators who develop and distribute aviation safety material –free of charge— in order to advance general aviation safety industrywide. ASI distributes material through a dedicated YouTube channel, iTunes podcasts, Facebook, and a dynamic website. ASI material is accessed over 7 million times annually.
A native of Panama City, Florida, McSpadden started flying as a teenager and has logged over 5,000 hours flying a variety of civilian and military aircraft. McSpadden is a commercial pilot, CFII, MEI with an SES rating, and a 525S (Citation Jet Single Pilot) type rating. He taught his son to fly, instructed his daughter to solo in their Piper Super Cub, previously owned a 1950 Navion that was in his family for almost 40 years, and currently owns a 1993 Piper Super Cub.
McSpadden holds a degree in Economics from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Public Administration from Troy University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air War College.
Prior to joining AOPA, McSpadden had a successful career in the information technology industry, leading large, geographically dispersed operations providing business-critical IT services. McSpadden also served in the Air Force for 20 years, including the prestigious role of commander and flight leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team where he led over 100 flight demonstrations flying the lead aircraft.
Additionally, McSpadden currently serves as the industry chair for the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee.
Adam Meredith joined AOPA in 2013 and currently serves as president of AOPA Aviation Finance Company. Meredith is responsible for the start-up and management of AOPA Aviation Finance, a brokerage firm wholly owned by AOPA, providing aircraft financing to its members.
He is a native New Englander and a commercial pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings.
Meredith holds dual master’s degrees in Business Administration and Finance from Boston College, and has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado. Meredith first obtained formal credit training in 2001 from Eastern Bank, the oldest and largest mutually held bank in the United States, with $11B in assets. While at Eastern Bank, he earned experience in equipment leasing, commercial and industrial lending, managed assets, and commercial real estate. Prior to joining AOPA, Meredith was with Santander Bank, where he was the aviation commercial loan officer and portfolio manager. Before Santander, Meredith co-founded and sold TJM Motorsports, a small business specializing in the wholesale distribution of automotive performance parts.
Additionally, Meredith is involved with the National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA), where he serves as a board member and chairman of the Light Aircraft Roundtable Committee, and is active in his local area youth lacrosse programs.
Melissa Rudinger currently leads the AOPA Foundation as executive director, a role she took on in October 2019. Rudinger leads a team of dedicated professionals who are focused on funding programs that grow the pilot population, improve safety, and make flying more accessible and affordable.
A native of Pennsylvania, Rudinger holds a commercial pilot certificate with a lighter-than-air rating. Having flown for more than 35 years, Rudinger also has FAA Academy training in Airspace Design and Analysis, Air Traffic Management, Terminal Procedures Development, and Environmental Policy.
Rudinger has been with AOPA for more than 28 years, and prior to joining the AOPA Foundation she worked in both Public Relations and Government Affairs. She advocated for general aviation interests at the federal, state, and local levels of government on matters affecting airmen, aircraft, and air traffic control. She has also represented AOPA’s international policy interests at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and other international regulatory bodies.
Prior to joining AOPA, Rudinger’s aviation career began at a small FBO in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During this time, she also launched Conestoga Hot Air Balloons, a commercial hot air balloon business that operated half a dozen balloons providing sightseeing flights and flight instruction. Her company was also an FAA certified balloon repair station.
Additionally, Rudinger serves on RTCA’s Board of Directors, and previously served as co-chair of the FAA NextGen Advisory Committee Subcommittee and as an appointee for the National Park Service Overflight Advisory Group.
Elizabeth Tennyson is the executive director of AOPA’s You Can Fly and is responsible for programs designed to get people flying and keep them flying. You Can Fly comprises four initiatives: introducing high school students to aviation career opportunities, improving the flight training experience, making flying more accessible and affordable through flying clubs, and returning lapsed pilots to the cockpit.
A native of California, Tennyson earned her private pilot certificate in 1998 and is an instrument-rated private pilot and a hang glider pilot.
Tennyson holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, and undergraduate degrees in Broadcast Journalism and International Relations from the University of Southern California.
Tennyson first joined AOPA in 1998. Prior to joining You Can Fly, she held positions throughout the association that included director of Publications/managing editor of Flight Training magazine, vice president of Publications/executive editor of AOPA Pilot magazine, vice president of e-Publishing, senior director of Communications, and vice president of Aviation Program Operations. Prior to her tenure with AOPA, Tennyson was a television, radio, and wire service reporter, working for the Associated Press in Los Angeles, Miami, and Raleigh, North Carolina. She also served as editor in chief for a collection of legal and golf magazines.
Tennyson serves on the boards of the Aerospace Center for Excellence and is a member of the Aviation Accreditation Board International.
Erica Saccoia joined AOPA in 2009 and currently serves as AOPA’s senior vice president of Finance and Accounting. Saccoia is responsible for the day to day management of a team of accountants and operational technicians as well as overseeing all fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities for the organization(s), including financial reporting, planning and budgeting, accounting, risk management, contract management, tax and regulatory compliance, auditing, and all other areas of financial analysis and activity. In addition, her department is responsible for monitoring and
overseeing the organization’s internal financial and fiscal policies regarding all financial transactions.
A native of Woodbridge, Virginia, Saccoia graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting, and she obtained her certified public accountant license in May 1994.
Prior to joining AOPA, Saccoia was the accounting manager, Financial and Tax Reporting, for National Public Radio for eight years. She started her career with Price Waterhouse as an auditor of the federal government and nonprofit organizations.
Saccoia’s prior experience at AOPA includes senior vice president-Finance and Accounting, vice president-controller, director of Accounting, and accounting manager, where she was responsible primarily for financial reporting for the Air Safety Foundation and AOPA Foundation.