Since its founding in 1953, EAA has been led by a Poberezny — the founder, Paul, and then his son, Tom — but in September the organization will appoint a new president, Rod Hightower. Hightower and his family were introduced to the press in a brief news conference on Monday, Opening Day at AirVenture 2010. The effort to find a new leader was intensive. “We hired a professional search firm, and over 700 candidates were screened,” Poberezny said. The field was narrowed down to six finalists, who were interviewed in March. Hightower, a longtime EAA member and aviation enthusiast, flies a Stearman biplane that he restored. In his 25-year business career, he has held high-level positions in various large international corporations, EAA said.
Hightower also is a director of the National Stearman Foundation and helps organize the national Stearman National Fly-In. He is originally from Texas, he said, but now lives in St. Louis. In his Linked-In profile, he lists past positions as president and CEO at Public Safety Equipment, vice president and general manager at York International, and vice president of strategic accounts at Schneider Electric. He graduated from Central Missouri State University in 1981 with a degree in aviation technology and aeronautics. Hightower will host a more intensive Q&A with the press later today.