Exciting changes are underway at HAI, and the result means significant changes for our members.
HAI’s Operations and Business Development Departments have merged to create the Member Services Department. This group directly supports HAI members by providing services in regulatory assistance and advocacy, operations support, education, and membership and by producing HAI HELI-EXPO, conferences, and other events. This change was prompted by two events: the hiring of Michael Hertzendorf as VP of Operations and the retirement of Karen Gebhart, HAI’s longtime VP of Business Development.
“As we discussed the vacancy in Business Development, it became clear that we had an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to our members,” says James Viola, president and CEO of HAI. “The Operations staff was directly engaged in providing services to our members, often advocating for them before regulatory authorities. And we recognized that increasing our members’ satisfaction is the path to growth. It made sense to reorganize these two departments into an integrated unit focused on providing member value.
“HAI is grateful to Karen for her years of service to the association and her part in making HAI HELI-EXPO the success that it is today,” adds Viola. “The show is recognized as one of the fastest-growing trade events, and it remains the largest helicopter show in the world. Karen’s work, and that of her team, ensured that members of the global vertical lift community could find everything they need in this one event.”
In his expanded role as VP of Member Services, Hertzendorf will oversee HAI’s work for its members in flight operations, maintenance and technology, safety, education, events, and membership. He will also work closely with HAI’s Government Affairs Department to ensure HAI members across the VTOL industry are protected from overly burdensome regulations.
“We’re very pleased Mike accepted this new responsibility just as he was settling in. He understands that continuing to grow member value is a priority for HAI,” says Viola.
After a 29-year career in the US Army as a special operations aviator, Hertzendorf most recently served as CEO of NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research), where he was responsible for the integration, synchronization, and execution of all activities necessary to develop a national unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management system within New York state’s 50-mile UAS corridor.
His background in both manned aviation and UAS provides Hertzendorf with a unique perspective. “Mike’s history as an army aviator and leader, along with his work at NUAIR, means that he understands the issues and can represent the needs of both rotorcraft operators and those working to integrate new classes of aircraft into the airspace,” says Viola.
“I’m excited to join the HAI team in these unprecedented times for aviation,” says Hertzendorf. “I look forward to advancing HAI’s global presence as well as incorporating future VTOL platforms. With their experience in rotorcraft and low-altitude operations, HAI members are well positioned to take advantage of advancements in VTOL technology that I believe will ultimately improve the economic viability of our industry.”
Michael Hertzendorf, HAI VP of Member Services
Mike grew up in Upstate New York and has more than 20 years of command and leadership experience, finishing his US Army service as chief of staff of the 82nd Airborne Division. He holds a master’s degree in national security and strategy from the US Army War College, a master’s degree in public administration from Murray State University, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ithaca College.
Hertzendorf is a commercial instrument rotorcraft and private single-engine land pilot, and he volunteers on the Military Advisory Board for Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit supporting youths, families, and communities affected by terrorism and traumatic loss. He is an avid outdoorsman and focuses his off-hours on fitness and swimming.
The hiring of Hertzendorf and combining the two departments also resulted in additional staff changes. Chris Martino is now senior director of operations and international affairs, and Zac Noble has been promoted to director of maintenance and technology. Greg Brown has been named director of education and training services. Charlotte Zilke is now senior director of membership and conventions, and Shaquanta McFadden is HAI’s membership manager.