NASAO Concludes Successful 90th Annual Convention, Announces 2021 Award Winners

Photo above – Tina Wilson, Aviation Development Program Supervisor with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, received NASAO’s Distinguished Service Award. Tina is flanked by Brad Brandt, left, Aviation Division Director, and Greg Pecoraro, NASAO President and CEO. All photos courtesy of Shahn Sederberg, Colorado Dept. of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics. 

The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) concluded its 2021 Annual Convention and Tradeshow in Colorado Springs, CO on Thursday, September 16.

After 18 months of virtual engagement, NASAO members safely gathered for the association’s first in-person event since the 2020 Washington Conference, in February of that year.

With more than 270 individuals registered and representation from 31 states, NASAO leadership dubbed the event a success. “State aviation leaders and their partners from across the country enjoyed gathering in a safe and monitored environment to discuss the most important issues facing our industry,” said Greg Pecoraro, NASAO President and CEO. “It was a great opportunity to discuss best practices and explore paths forward out of the pandemic into a future for aviation powered by emerging technologies and environmentally sustainable operations. We’re looking forward to an engaging and productive year ahead with our newly elected Board.”

The convention sessions addressed a variety of topics including airline industry sustainability, the Future of Aviation and Airport Electrification, and UAM development. Key convention events included luncheon Keynote session with Col. (Ret) John Manzi, USAF; an update from Washington with FAA Associate Administrator for Airports, Shannetta Griffin; and election of the 2021-2022 NASAO Board.

2021 NASAO Awards

During the convention, NASAO leadership named the recipients of the 2021 NASAO Awards, which honors state and individual contributions to aviation. The 2021 NASAO Award winners are:

  • Most Innovative State Program Award

Aviation Board Training- Pennsylvania Bureau of Aviation, Department of Transportation.

PennDOT Aviation Bureau Director, Anthony McCloskey accepts the award on behalf of the Department.

The award recognizes truly unique and service-oriented state aviation programs, projects, and activities. Many innovative aviation programs that began at the state level have spread to other states or in some cases have been adopted or accepted by the federal government and the aviation community. This year, NASAO recognized the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for their newly established training program designed to educate airport board members to better understand their airport’s role within the Pennsylvania airport system.

  • State Aviation Distinguished Service Award

Tina Wilson, Aviation Development Program Supervisor, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

The award recognizes and honors state aviation personnel who have excelled in their service and dedication to aviation progress and development in their state. This year, NASAO recognized Tina Wilson (See photo at top) for her leadership, dedication and hard work. Among other achievements, Ms. Wilson implemented new strategic planning tools that have helped to promote aviation safety and manage airport profitably within Louisiana.

  • NASAO Center Aviation Education Program Award

Utah Rotor Pathway Program

 Jared Esselman, left, Director, Utah Dept. of Transportation, Aeronautical Operations Division, accepts the award from Anthony McCloskey.

The NASAO Center for Aviation Research and Education established an annual Aviation Education Program Award in 1993 to recognize the efforts of the state aviation agencies educating and motivating the public with aviation-related education programs. The Utah Rotor Pathway Program brings together industry, universities, and high schools to provide both helicopter pilot and maintenance training at the high school level. The program has grown to 32 schools in 13 of the state’s 29 counties.

  • NASAO Board Chair’s Award

Steve Brian, Manager of Aviation Programs, Georgia Department of Transportation

Each year, the Chair of the NASAO Board selects a recipient based on their outstanding contribution to the association and support of the Board Chair. This year, Steve Brian, Chair of NASAO’s Block Grant Committee, was recognized for leading the 10 Block Grant States’ engagement with the FAA and for facilitating information sharing and best practices among the states.

  • NASAO President’s Award

Melanie Alvord, Director of Federal Affairs, Texas Department of Transportation 

Each year, the NASAO President & CEO selects a recipient based on their outstanding contribution to the association and support of the President’s initiatives. This year, Melanie Alvord was recognized for her contribution to NASAO’s government affairs.

NASAO will start accepting nominations for the 2022 awards in June. Learn more about the NASAO Awards.

NASAO looks forward to hosting next year’s conference in Greenville, SC, from September 11-14, 2022, followed by Rogers, AK in 2023!