Deputy Administrator, FAA
In February 2021, Bradley Mims assumed his current position as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Deputy Administrator. Mims has served as a transportation professional in government and the private sector for over 40 years. As a government relations specialist with a multi-modal transportation background, Mims holds a special affinity for the aviation industry. In addition to working for a number of firms and organizations related to transportation/aviation, Mims served as the head of government relations for the FAA during the Clinton Administration. He served as a transportation staffer for members of Congress in his early career (representing Congressman John Lewis—GA and Julian Dixon—CA). Mims has also served as a congressional liaison for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Between 2001-2005, Mims served as a transportation specialist at Booz Allen Hamilton. In 2005, Mims joined Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., serving as the Aviation Markets Vice President until 2010. As an appointee of the governor of Maryland, Mims joined the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority Board of Directors in 2014 and has served as the co-chair of the Dulles Corridor and Finance Committees, as well as chair of the Nominations Committee. In addition, Mims served as the transportation subject matter expert with Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) from 2014-2016. Prior to his appointment at the FAA, Mims served as the President/CEO of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) from 2016-2021. He graduated from Allegheny College with a bachelor's degree in political science.
President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
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.
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs and Advocacy, AOPA
As the Senior Vice president of Government Affairs and Advocacy, Jim Coon is responsible for the implementation of AOPA's political, legislative, and regulatory initiatives before Congress, federal agencies, and state legislatures. He has more than three decades of experience working with Congress and the aviation industry. Coon has held the role of staff director for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and majority staff director for the House aviation subcommittee. He has also served in leadership roles for the National Air Transportation Association, The Boeing Company, and the Air Transport Association (now A4A).
Singer, Songwriter, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Champion
Dierks Bentley – award-winning singer/songwriter, entrepreneur, restauranteur, and, yes, enthusiastic pilot. Dierks continues to be a dominant voice in today's music scene, with more than 6.4 billion digital streams. He has amassed more than 50 nominations from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, and Billboard Music with 14 Grammy nominations. Capacity crowds always follow Dierks's headlining runs, most recently his 2019 Burning Man Tour and his three-day Seven Peaks Festival in Buena Vista, Colorado. Dierks has an instrument rating with more than 4,000 hours in his logbook and a type rating in the Cessna 525. He cites his favorite airplane as the 1946 Piper floatplane in the video for his hit "Say You Do."
Manager of Pilot Career Recruiting, American Airlines
Currently the Manager of Pilot Career Recruiting at American Airlines, Brad has a passion for helping raise up the next generation of future pilots. His path in aviation started more than two decades ago when he took his first flight in a Piper Cherokee with his father and was immediately "bitten" by the flying bug. Since then, his journey has led him through various positions, from Flight Instructor, to Chief Pilot, to Flight School Director. In his current role at American Airlines, Brad is deeply involved with the American Airlines Cadet Academy, aimed at growing and diversifying the pilot population and opening up the world of aviation to young people who may never have considered this exciting career field.
Captain Dave Retnam
Senior Manager, Flight Operations and Chief Pilot, Southwest Airlines
Captain Dave Retnam is the Senior Manager of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot of Southwest Airlines; he has held those positions since 2016 and 2014, respectively. Dave's responsibilities include pilot hiring, mentorship and leadership development, Destination 225° Pilot Pathways Program, crew hotels, military affairs, security programs, and Southwest's Compassionate Care Programs. He earned positions as First Officer for Southwest in 2001 and as Captain in 2008. Prior to working at Southwest Airlines, he was a corporate and Part 135 pilot. Dave was also a flight instructor and manager of a flight school and FBO. He is a graduate of Mountain View College & Dallas Baptist University.
Captain Mary Ann Schaffer
Managing Director - System Chief Pilot and Washington, D.C. Base Chief, United Airlines
Captain Mary Ann Schaffer is the Managing Director – System Chief Pilot and serves in the Base Chief Pilot role for Washington. She oversees and supports United's eight pilot bases, works with Flight Standards and Flight Training on pilot qualifications and the line check airmen program. Mary Ann joined United Airlines over 32 years ago. Her recent roles include B737 Captain and Job Share Evaluator, LCA, FSAP ERC Management Representative, Technical Skills Evaluator for Pilot Hiring, and LOSA observer. She previously served as Flight Manager and as a Flight Operations Duty Manager. She has been a flight instructor, and was an electrical engineer for a Department of Defense contractor. Captain Schaffer holds a Juris Doctor from Washington College. She also has a Master of Aeronautical Science in Aviation Safety, and a Bachelor of Engineering.
Senior Vice President, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
As the Senior Vice President of the AOPA Foundation, Elizabeth leads the Foundation's efforts by championing its safety and educational initiatives. She first joined AOPA in 1998, holding positions that included managing editor of Flight Training magazine, executive editor of AOPA Pilot magazine, vice president of publications, vice president of eMedia, and senior director of communications. Elizabeth serves on the boards of the Aerospace Center for Excellence and the Aviation Accreditation Board International and the Board of Advisors for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. A native of California, Elizabeth holds degrees in Broadcast Journalism and International Relations and an MBA. She started flying in 1997 and is an instrument-rated private pilot and a hang glider pilot.
Senior Vice President/Editor in Chief, AOPA Publications
Tom Haines is the Editor in Chief and Senior Vice President of Media, Communications, and Outeach. He manages a staff of 35 writers, editors, graphic artists, photographers, videographers, event planners, communications experts, and support personnel. Tom 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 oversees the publication of AOPA Pilot magazine; Flight Training magazine; the weekly AOPA ePilot electronic newsletter; the Flight Training edition of ePilot, AOPA Online; and the association's video-on-demand channel, AOPA Live.
Dr. Nisha Zoeller, D.Litt.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, Morris Hills Regional District
Dr. Nisha Zoeller is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at the Morris Hills Regional District in Rockaway, NJ. She has been a public school educator for over twenty years as a secondary teacher, counselor, and school/district administrator. Dr. Zoeller also teaches at Kean University in the Nathan Weiss Graduate School of Education and supervises field placements for college students entering the teaching profession. She is dedicated to providing a wide range of experiences and opportunities to all students as they pursue their educational goals.
Kevin S. Doyle, Ed.D.
District Supervisor of Science, Morris Hills Regional District
Dr. Doyle is a veteran educator with 28 years of experience in education, the last 11 as the District Supervisor of Science at the Morris Hills Regional District in New Jersey. He is the coordinator of the Math & Science Magnet Program and the coordinator of the Aviation & Aerospace Program for the District. Dr. Doyle received his B.S. in Physics from Seton Hall University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment from Walden University, an M.S. in Educational Leadership from New England College, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Rutgers University.
Teacher, Morris Knolls High School
Marty Fundora is a physics teacher at Morris Knolls High School. She teaches Intro to Flight & UAS and courses at the Advanced Placement level (AP Physics I) and the Science and Mathematics Magnet Program (Research-Based Analysis). She began her career in education eight years ago after working as a marine and wetlands field biologist. Marty graduated from Florida International University in Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She earned two master's degrees in New Jersey: a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from St. Peter's University and a Master of Science degree from the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning in Physics Education.
Teacher, Morris Hills High School
Joseph Konopinski is a science teacher at Morris Hills Regional School District in Rockaway, New Jersey, teaching AP Physics 1 and the school's third-year aviation course, Intro to Flight Planning and UAS Operations. Joseph began his career at MHRD in 2017. In 2018, he began teaching the AOPA Foundation’s curriculum within his school district. In October of 2018, he began flight training. He also won two scholarships through the AOPA Foundation and is close to completing his private pilot certificate. To date, Joseph has taught the first three years of the AOPA Foundation Curriculum.
Math and Aviation Teacher, United Christian Academy
Gene Poole has taught math at United Christian Academy in Bloomington, Minnesota for seven years and is beginning his 4th year teaching the AOPA Foundation Curriculum. Gene's interest in aviation and aerospace began watching the space race to the moon. He joined the Air Force after high school, and studied mathematics education in college. Graduate school led to employment at NASA Langley Research Center in high performance and parallel computing. In 1991, a job with Cray Research led to a move to Minnesota, and 15 years in the engineering software industry. Last year, Gene became a pilot after receiving an AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Teacher Flight Training Scholarship. He is an active member of EAA and Civil Air Patrol.
Teacher, Hereford High School
Michael Doddo teaches Principles of Aviation, Private Pilot, Engineering Design, and Engineering Tech at Hereford High School in Hereford, MD. He has 36 years of teaching experience at both middle school and high school levels. It is currently his 17th year at Hereford where—in addition to teaching—he is the Robotics, National Honor Society, Society of Women Engineers, and Engineering Club sponsor. Michael’s interest in aviation started as an extension of robotics when he noticed the amount of student interest in drones. A Baltimore County grant allowed him to begin an Aviation and Aerospace program at Hereford. Since then, he has worked to help students obtain their goals to become pilots or aerospace engineers.
Sr. Medical Certification Specialist, AOPA Pilot Information Center
Jacquie Brown is a Senior Medical Certification Specialist at AOPA and has assisted the organization's members for 17 years. In her role within the Medical Certification Department, she answers members' medical questions, troubleshoots potential and current certification issues, and answers questions on BasicMed. Jacquie enjoys doing anything outdoors when not at work and spends much of her time training dogs. She currently has three Jack Russel Terriers and a White German Shepherd—which she hopes might one day become a therapy dog.
Ambassador, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
Jamie Beckett is the AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Ambassador for Florida. He is responsible for promoting and growing AOPA's pilot community development programs, including Flying Clubs Initiative, Flight Training Initiative, Rusty Pilots program, and Reimagined Aircraft. Jamie's preferred mode of transportation is a bright yellow and black Reimagined Cessna 152, which he often refers to as his company car. Jamie holds commercial land and sea ratings for airplanes, as well as instrument and multi-engine instructor ratings. An A&P mechanic with a penchant for the classics and a frequent contributor to a wide variety of aviation publications, Jamie's passion for general aviation is truly infectious.
Sr. Manager, Curriculum Development, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
As Sr. Manager, Curriculum Development, Michael works with other AOPA Foundation curriculum team members to plan and write the organization's High School Aviation STEM Curriculum. A certificated Remote Pilot, he has played a particularly active role in creating the curriculum's UAS pathway. Michael earned a bachelor's degree in Business Economics and an MBA and joined AOPA in 2014 as Financial Analyst. Since that time, he has worked as a Research Analyst and the Manager of AOPA's Flying Club Initiative— while also earning a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Lasell University. Michael has been flying since 2011, and is an instrument-rated commercial pilot who enjoys flying both airplanes and helicopters, albeit at different times. He is also an Advanced Ground Instructor.
Director, High School Outreach, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
Glenn Ponas is responsible for providing programmatic, management, and fiscal oversight of the AOPA Foundation's High School initiative, and leading the AOPA Foundation's effort to expand the implementation of its Aviation STEM Curriculum. Glenn has thirty-one years of experience as a secondary teacher, administrator, and curriculum development specialist. In 2002, he founded the Pittsburgh Gifted Center Aviation Program, introducing over 3,000 students to aviation. He is an FAA certificated private pilot and remote pilot. In 2005, Glenn co-founded Frameworks Information Technology, Inc., a web-based data visualization and GIS analysis company. He was also an educational data systems consultant to state and federal governments.
Director, Curriculum Development, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
Erik is the Director of Curriculum Development for the High School Initiative at the AOPA Foundation. Erik joined the You Can Fly team after 25 years in education as a STEM supervisor, technology curriculum coordinator, teacher trainer, and classroom teacher from elementary school through high school physics. He was the Program Director for the Global Learning nonprofit organization in New Jersey. Erik has inspired his students with aviation-themed lessons while teaching in places as diverse as Tianjin, China; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Chatham, New Jersey. A 3,500-hour ATP certificated pilot, Erik earned his private pilot, CFII, and MEII credentials in high school and college before instructing full time and completing his master's degree in Education.