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2019 President's Message
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President's Message

Welcome to the website of the Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives. Founded in 1971, NWAAAE is an affiliate of AAAE, the world’s largest professional organization representing the men and women who work at commercial service and general aviation airports. As the largest geographic Chapter of AAAE, we represent the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah; and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

The aviation industry is going through much change. We struggle to fill the workforce needs of today and challenge that will only become more pronounced in the coming years. We are right in the middle of the silver tsunami with ten thousand baby boomers turning 65 every day. At the same time, millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, with more coming into the workforce every day, but with different ideas about how they want to live and work. That tidal wave of workforce turnover is something we all need to be prepared for and address now at each of our airports. With the pilot shortage, and demands for employees in other key aviation roles, it’s time we all stepped up to ensure our futures in airport management.

Focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs for today’s youth are critical to the aviation industry moving forward. Actively mentoring youth through STEM programs - focused on aviation - is a necessity if we are going to meet our workforce needs of the future. At the same time, we know we’ll need to diversify our workforce if we are going to be able to meet the demand for future airline pilots, airframe mechanics, air traffic controllers, and airport directors. Mentoring youth in AVID classes is one way to boost outreach to diverse audiences. AVID is Advancement Via Individual Determination, a nonprofit focused on equity in education for underserved youth. These students will likely be the first in their families to attend college. They are typically from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. And they are a key piece to the puzzle in diversifying our workforce into the future.

I recently spoke with students in an AVID class to learn what they wanted to see and hear about in future talks about careers in aviation. Their feedback to me was – “show us videos about jobs in aviation, tell us what we need to do to get there – four year universities and trade school, and give us information about how much these positions pay and opportunities to move up.” With this AVID student feedback in hand - I intend to dedicate my year as president of the Northwest Chapter to visiting dozens of classrooms, both STEM and AVID, and talk with students about careers in aviation. It’s really easy – just call up a school, Elementary or Secondary, and ask to come and speak at a class or two. Teachers will love you for giving your time and energy their students. And the students will love you for sharing your experiences, believing in them, and encouraging them to consider careers in aviation.

The Chapter’s newly forming Diversity Committee will serve as a springboard for these activities moving forward - providing resources, talking points, and hopefully soon a video promoting careers in aviation. This new initiative will dovetail with AAAE’s Diversity Committee efforts.

I hope you’ll all join me in this initiative to personally reach out to youth of all ages to ensure a strong future workforce in the aviation industry.

Cathryn Stephens, A.A.E.

Northwest Chapter President

P.O. Box 1054
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
P: (541) 539-8580

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