NBAA’s Departed Do Not Go Quietly…

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It's been anything but a dull month at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). As AVweb reported in the last edition of Business AVflash , President and CEO Shelley Longmuir departed her position on April 1 after only nine months on the job. The association's press release about Longmuir was accompanied by news that two longtime staffers, Bob Blouin and Cassandra Bosco, would remain at the association, despite their announced resignations. That same April 1 press release also announced the departure of Bob Warren, executive vice president and COO, who was hired by Longmuir, and the appointment of NBAA Chairman Donald E. Baldwin as interim president and CEO. A search committee, headed by NBAA Vice Chairman Ken Emerick, was formed to begin work on identifying a new president and CEO. All of which seemed to be the end of the beginning for the NBAA's transition to a new president. Indeed, it all seemed to be over except for the shouting. What no one knew at the time was how long the shouting would continue.

The shouting began in the form of an April 15 letter from Warren to the NBAA's members in which he described the association's board of directors' decision to terminate Longmuir's employment -- which he said began with a mandate to be a "change agent" -- as a return to "business as usual" and "foreclosing NBAA from advancing a meaningful political agenda." In addition to describing the NBAA's keystone aviation security policy initiative -- the Transportation Security Administration Access Certificate, or TSAAC -- as "limited" and "inadequate," Warren went on to raise a series of what he called "troubling management issues," including "imprudent financial management, inappropriate staff travel [and] ... excess staff and Board expenditures," among other criticisms. His letter to the NBAA's members concluded by saying that the association's board of directors "went the wrong way in causing someone with [Longmuir's] credentials to leave. They need to hear from you loud and clear to get back on the right course." Perhaps in response to Warren’s challenge -- perhaps in helping to ensure that the lines of communication between the organization and its members remained open -- the NBAA has established a Web page dedicated to obtaining from its members suggestions on its next president.

Normally, Warren’s letter to NBAA members would be enough for anyone -- and way too much for others. However, he didn’t stop there, getting even more "airtime" via an article published by the National Journal, a weekly magazine for policy wonks focused on the happenings inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway. That article, which described Capitol Hill's view of the NBAA as "a sleepy organization," included an interview with Warren in which he took things even further. According to the National Journal, Warren maintains that the NBAA's board of directors "said they wanted change, but at the end of the day, they didn't -- because they came to understand that changes were actually going to be made." The article continued by saying "Longmuir's predecessor as president, Jack Olcott, had a mostly hands-off management style. According to Warren, the NBAA board, not Olcott, directly managed the staff and set the group's direction. 'The board liked running the organization,' Warren said." For her part, Longmuir is staying out of these trenches, telling the National Journal that she "has turned a new page" and has not commented publicly -- since her own April 1 statement, anyway -- on either her departure from the NBAA or on the various letters floating around.