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Mon, Dec 07, 2009

AOPA Restructures Senior Management

New COO Position Created To Run Day-To-Day Operations

AOPA announced a significant redesign of its upper management structure Thursday, creating the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) to oversee the day-to-day running of the Association, as well as a new position to lead the AOPA Foundation, and filling the top spot in the Association's government affairs division.

Robert H. Moran, most recently president and CEO of the Ancora Group, LLC, has been named AOPA's COO, effective immediately. Karen Gebhart, currently AOPA's executive vice president of communications, will fill the newly created position of president of the AOPA Foundation. And filling out AOPA's leadership team, Melissa K. Rudinger, vice president and assistant to the president of AOPA, has been named senior vice president of government affairs, formalizing a role she has filled since earlier this year.

"During my first year at AOPA, my travels have taken me from Florida to Alaska and dozens of places in between, and I have been reminded of what I learned over the years - that there is no substitute for reaching out to people in their own backyard… for meeting them where they are," said AOPA President and CEO Craig L. Fuller. "Having Rob on board will ensure continued smooth operations and decision making when I and other key members of the leadership team must be out of the office."

Robert H. Moran has extensive association and non-profit experience. He most recently owned and operated a management consulting firm that has worked with AOPA for more than three years. "AOPA is a tremendous organization that provides unparalleled services and support to its members, and to general aviation," said Moran. "It is an honor to be part of this dynamic enterprise."

The Ancora Group focuses primarily on leading organizations in transitions, developing leaders and managing talent, providing consultation and coaching to leaders and executives, and strategic planning and positioning. Prior to the Ancora Group, Moran headed the California Association of Health Facilities, served as executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, and was the executive director of the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics, which revolutionized the child-birthing experience, and of the International Halfway House Association.

Karen Gebhart has worked with or for AOPA for 19 years, most recently as the Association's executive vice president of the communications. In that role, she was vital to the success of one of AOPA's key initiatives, General Aviation Serves America, helping to craft the messages that would convince opinion leaders and decision makers of the value of general aviation. "Karen's intimate knowledge of AOPA and of general aviation overall, as well as her business and communications background, make her the ideal choice to fill this new role, as the Foundation matures and takes on new challenges," said Fuller. "I have great passion for general aviation and believe we must do everything we can to protect our freedom to fly," said Gebhart. "I look forward to working with our members on key initiatives to preserve our future - such as growing the pilot population and changing the public perception of GA."

Gebhart is a pilot. She joined AOPA in 1994 as vice president of membership marketing, where she oversaw extensive membership growth, earning a promotion to senior vice president in 1996. In 1999 she added AOPA's member products, technical assistance hotline, and Internet department to her areas of responsibility before being named executive vice president of non-dues revenue. Her passion for flying is evident in the types of programs she has championed while at AOPA, including numerous student-pilot outreach and support efforts that have involved working with a general aviation industry coalition. Before coming to AOPA, Gebhart was vice president of Barry Blau & Partners in Baltimore, Maryland, - AOPA's marketing agency at that time.  Her previous agency experience includes more than nine years in financial products marketing, managing client relationships with Citibank, Commercial Credit and First Chicago, among others. Gebhart holds a business degree from Iowa State University.

Melissa K. Rudinger has been at AOPA for nearly two decades. Most of that time was spent in the government affairs division. During that time, she has worked on air traffic issues, aviation security issues, aircraft certification, and other regulatory issues affecting general aviation. She was instrumental in helping get general aviation back in the air following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, acting as a liaison between AOPA and the Federal Aviation Administration. "Melissa's breadth and depth of experience are just what we need to oversee the management of our government affairs division," said Fuller. "She really understands the issues and what is at stake for our members."

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to lead AOPA's government advocacy efforts," said Rudinger. "AOPA's government and legislative affairs staff is second to none and I look forward in this new role to working with them to protect our members' interest."

As senior vice president of government affairs, Rudinger will oversee all aspects of AOPA's interaction with both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, as well as state and local governments. Rudinger is a commercial pilot with a lighter-than-air rating. She also has experience in flight school management. "I am very excited about going into 2010 with this new structure," concluded Fuller. "I am convinced that this will greatly strengthen AOPA's ability to serve and protect our members."

FMI: www.aopa.org

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