Inaugural NBAA Emerging Leaders Conference Hailed as a Success

Contact: Dan Hubbard, 202-783-9360,

Orlando, FL, Feb. 28, 2020 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC2020) – the first-ever conference designed by and specifically for young business aviation professionals – attracted 120 attendees, and provided an opportunity for networking, education and enhancing leadership skills.

The Feb. 27 event overlapped with NBAA’s longtime Leadership Conference, offering new and veteran industry professionals a chance to interact and learn from each other. The event kicked off with a joint session where attendees of both conferences heard from speaker Mark Fernandes about humanizing business with millennials in the mix.

“They say there’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come – and it was clear from the energy and enthusiasm of ELC2020 attendees, they are ready to help lead our industry into the future,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, who in his address to open the conference highlighted the continued importance of safety, technology, diversity and sustainability in a fast-paced, dynamic industry.

Bolen also reinforced the need to engage with elected officials in support of business aviation. His opening address culminated with a call-to-action as attendees used their smartphones to express support of H.R. 5118 and S. 3303, the Promoting Service in Transportation Act.

Throughout the daylong event, a talented roster of panelists shared, and occasionally debated, best practices on topics ranging from management to teleworking, personal branding to social media and business ethics. Speakers included Kate Fraser, safety lead at Joby Aviation, Elaine Karabatsos, director of maintenance, aviation, Encompass Health and Alex Banayan, motivational speaker and author of bestseller, The Third Door.

“The goal of the conference was to create a place where young professionals in business aviation could come together to share ideas,” said event Chair Kali Hague, senior partner, Jet Law. “Secondly, the idea was to share best practices to foster the leadership skills they need to succeed within their company and the industry.”

On Feb. 28, ELC2020 attendees had the opportunity to give back to the local Orlando community at the Covenant House, an organization that provides shelter and services to homeless and at-risk youth. Events such as these, dubbed “Helpy Hour,” are a staple of NBAA’s Young Professionals (YoPro) program.

ELC2020 represented the culmination of six years of effort – beginning with the Young Professionals Council – conceptualized in 2014 by NBAA Senior Manager, Registration Sierra Grimes. With strong support from NBAA, the council has over the years organized receptions, hosted community service events and even met with the ICAO secretary general.

“In some ways, emerging leaders are going to adapt to what business aviation is like today, but in other ways they will shape what business aviation is like tomorrow,” said Jo Damato, CAM, vice president, educational strategy and workforce development. “I think one of the best things employers can do is listen to them – give them the chance to lead conversations to figure out how we meet in the middle –  they will certainly inspire us to make some changes that will make our industry better now, and in the future.” 

Learn more about ELC2020.

Learn more about NBAA’s Young Professionals in Business Aviation program.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 11,000 companies and professionals and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

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