The University of Texas at El Paso officials announced Monday that President Heather Wilson was appointed chair of the newly formed Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIABB) by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao on Friday, May 15.
President Wilson, who served as the 24th Secretary of the Air Force from 2017 to 2019, will lead 30 individuals representing a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise in the aviation industry who were appointed to serve as board members.
“Women are underrepresented in aviation and I look forward to working with Secretary Chao, the FAA, and the advisory board to develop strategies that will encourage more women to consider careers in the aviation industry,” President Wilson said.
She has more than 35 years of experience in a range of leadership and management roles in the military, higher education, government and private industry. In August 2019, she began her role as President of UTEP, which is among the top 5% of U.S. research universities and one of the nation’s leading Hispanic-serving institutions.
She previously served as the 24th Secretary of the Air Force and represented New Mexico in the U.S. Congress for a decade.
She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in the third class to include women, and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England. Wilson is an instrument rated private pilot and aircraft owner.
“The Department welcomes Dr. Heather Wilson and these accomplished advisory board members, who share a commitment and passion for encouraging women to access opportunities in aviation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The WIAAB was established Oct. 3, 2019, under the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018. The purpose of the WIAAB is to encourage women and girls to enter the field of aviation with the objective of promoting organizations and programs that are providing education, training, mentorship, outreach and recruitment of women in the aviation industry.
Board members represent a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, including those from major airlines and aerospace companies, nonprofit organizations within the aviation industry, aviation and engineering business associations, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, and institutions of higher education and aviation trade schools.
“From Secretary Chao, to the several women on my senior leadership team, and the more than 10,000 women in the FAA, we see the professionalism and contributions that make our aviation industry the gold standard for the world every day,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “We salute the WIAAB’s new board members for their commitment to illuminate this career path for more women.”
Members will be appointed to the WIAAB for the duration of its existence, which is anticipated to be a minimum of two years. The board will meet up to twice annually to carry out its duties.
A full list of nominees and their biographies is available here.