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Tue, Jan 10, 2006

Upgraded: AOPA's Andy Cebula and Karen Gebhart

Promoted To New Executive VP Posts

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) announced Monday the promotion of two of its members to newly-created positions within the association. Karen Gebhart has been made executive vice-president of non-dues revenue, and Andy Cebula has been made executive vice president of government affairs.

"Andy joined AOPA just months before the terrorist attacks of 9/11," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Through Andy's guidance and leadership during a very difficult time for general aviation we have successfully forwarded the concerns of our members on the national, state, and local levels."

With nearly 25 years of experience in aviation policy, Cebula manages AOPA's advocacy efforts on issues affecting general aviation (GA) pilots and aircraft owners. This includes opposing legislation that limits GA pilots' freedom to fly, protecting and preserving airports and access to the nation's airspace, and fighting proposals on Capitol Hill, state capitols, and regulatory agencies that increase the cost of flying and aircraft ownership.

Cebula joined AOPA in 2001 as the senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs at the association's Frederick, MD headquarters. Shortly thereafter he also became the head of AOPA's lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. In addition, Cebula manages AOPA's Political Action Committee, 13 regional representatives located across the country, and 1,700 volunteers in the AOPA Airport Support Network.

As part of Cebula's new responsibilities, the Aviation Services Division of AOPA now falls under his leadership as well. The division is staffed by experienced pilots who answer nearly 130,000 technical questions from members each year, and medical specialists who to answer 50,000 questions annually about medical certification issues.

"Andy's promotion is part of a senior management reorganization I announced in 2003," said Boyer. "The structure is now complete, with Andy as one of the four executive vice presidents who will be vital to AOPA's continued success."

Another one of those new VPs is Karen Gebhart, who has been with the association for 11 years.

"Karen's unique background with AOPA's advertising agency, Membership Marketing, and the current Products and Services Marketing group make her an excellent choice for this position," said Boyer. "During her eleven-year tenure, Karen has held increasingly responsible positions and led departments that generate millions of dollars."

AOPA tells Aero-News that Gebhart joined the AOPA staff in 1994 as vice president of membership marketing, where her responsibilities included the development and oversight of direct mail and advertising campaigns to help attract and maintain AOPA members.

In 1996, she was promoted to senior vice president, assuming additional responsibilities in managing the AOPA Membership Assistance department and AOPA's graphics staff. In 1999, Gebhart took over the Products and Services division, including AOPA Member Products, Aviation Services, and AOPA Expo.

In her new position, Gebhart leads a division spanning two important areas of continuing growth for AOPA, contributing more than 60% of AOPA's income.

The first is AOPA Publications advertising, which annually generates more than $14,000,000 in revenue for the association. Second are the member benefits available through specialized products, services, and discounts for AOPA's members.

The non-dues revenues from these programs generate more than $19,000,000, according to AOPA. Gebhart also oversees the annual AOPA Fly-In and Open House, which attracts thousands of aviation enthusiasts and hundreds of airplanes to AOPA headquarters in Frederick, MD., each year, and AOPA Expo, the association's annual convention and trade show.

Gebhart and Cebula join two others in executive VP roles within AOPA: Diana Roberts, executive VP of Operations, and Jeff Myers, EVP of Communications.

FMI: www.aopa.org

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