March 13, 2024

The 35th edition of the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC2024) kicked off March 13, with inspiring speakers urging attendees to engage and empower themselves to soar in their careers.

“What you take away from this conference really depends on you,” said conference Co-Chair Jessi Litz-Rowden “You all are here for the opportunity to learn from the professionals that are in this room. You can connect with people who will have a huge impact on your personal and professional journeys.”

Fellow Co-Chair Brian Abrahamson said he knew how difficult it could be to reach out. “The people here know and understand how important and difficult it can be to get engaged and they are here to support you,” he said.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen at SDC2024

Business Aviation is Climbing. Fast.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen talked about the importance of the industry, which accounts for more than a million jobs across the county, connects communities not served by the airlines, is critical in times of natural disasters and helps companies grow and thrive.

But, he added, “Our industry is effectively under attack,” with recent proposals by the current administration to increase taxes, lengthen the depreciation schedule and unfairly target companies that use business aircraft for IRS audits.

He urged attendees to contact their representatives in Congress and let them know how harmful these proposals are to a vital American industry. Contact Congress today.

Bolen also highlighted the new CLIMBING. FAST. advocacy campaign, which highlights business aviation’s many societal benefits, as well as its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Help us be our best – get engaged, be empowered,” he said.

Keynoter, retired Col. Merryl Tengesdal, at SDC2024

Build Your Skill Set

Keynoter, retired Col. Merryl Tengesdal, the first and only Black woman to fly the U.S. Air Force’s U-2 spy plane, said her quest to achieve her dreams began as a 7-year-old in the Bronx, NY, watching science fiction, specifically Star Trek.

“They went where no one had gone before,” she said. “I thought, ‘I want to do that’.”

With the goal in mind of being an astronaut, Tengesdal spent her childhood and young adulthood building her skill set to achieve her dreams. After college, she went to Navy Officer Candidate School, then becoming a naval aviator.

After 10 years in the Navy – and building her skill set – she went to the Air Force and learned to fly the U-2 Lady Dragon.

“It takes a team of people to get anything going,” she said. “Without that team, the mission’s not going to get done. It takes a team to make sure the aircraft gets to the destination – it’s because of you. As a scheduler and dispatcher, you guys are the conductors, the maestros.”

She urged attendees to think about what skills they have honed for the future and add to their skill set whenever possible.

“As a pilot I see what you do and I appreciate what you do,” Tengesdal said. “There’s going to be some twists and turns, there’s going to be a lot of challenges. But if you use those skill sets you’ve already honed and developed, the journey will be amazing.”

Chris Algee, CAM (left), presented with the Schedulers & Dispatchers (S&D) Outstanding Achievement and Leadership Award by NBAA's Ed Bolen (right)

Award Winners

During the keynote, longtime business aviation scheduler and licensed dispatcher Chris Algee, CAM, was presented with the Schedulers & Dispatchers (S&D) Outstanding Achievement and Leadership Award. Algee has been employed with Birmingham, AL-based Encompass Health since 2017 as manager, flight scheduling operations and administration. Read more about Algee and the award.

Also recognized were the SDC scholarship recipients and sponsors.

Learn more about the Schedulers & Dispatchers Training Scholarships.

Learn more about the Schedulers & Dispatchers Scholarship Awards.