CEO Dan Dumbacher will leave his position at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) on September 30, 2024, according to an announcement made by the organization.
During a recent meeting of the AIAA Board of Trustees, Dan expressed his intention to step down from his position as the Institute’s steward. Over the past six years, his leadership has played a crucial role in positioning us strongly for the future, particularly in successfully navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic. We greatly appreciate his numerous contributions to AIAA and the aerospace community. At the core of his leadership is his unwavering commitment to supporting AIAA members’ success as they dedicate their efforts to unraveling the mysteries of flight and exploring the universe. We extend our best wishes to him as he embarks on the next phase of his journey, stated AIAA President Laura McGill.
Dumbacher became part of AIAA in 2018 in the position of Executive Director (currently CEO) after working for over three decades at NASA. Additionally, he held a role as a Professor of Engineering Practice at Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. There, he instructed classes centered on systems thinking, systems engineering, and space policy. Dumbacher has maintained his membership with AIAA for nearly 40 years.
AIAA Foundation Chair Basil Hassan expressed immense joy in collaborating closely with Dan to motivate and guide the upcoming generation. Over the past few years, their joint efforts have resulted in the Foundation introducing fresh STEM education initiatives for K-12 students. They have also formed partnerships aiming to positively influence one million students annually by 2025. In addition, they have established the prestigious Trailblazing STEM Educator Award to honor deserving teachers and included valuable scholarships for university students pursuing aerospace engineering.
Throughout his tenure, the Institute has successfully fulfilled its mission of supporting aerospace professionals and their organizations. In 2020, the Institute adopted a Domain approach aimed at accelerating innovation and advancement in Aeronautics, Aerospace Research and Development (R&D), and Space in the 21st century. This new structure, taking into account the current systems applications, missions, and rapidly evolving market, has positioned AIAA for the future. Within each Domain, priority issues have been identified to serve the interests of our members and the industry. AIAA strategically coordinates programs and activities to tackle substantial challenges faced by the aerospace industry. The collective efforts of the Board of Trustees, Domain Task Forces, Technical Committees, Integration and Outreach Committees, local sections, student branches, and external partnerships have established AIAA’s approach to address the community’s needs while maintaining the agility necessary to keep up with a dynamic and fast-paced environment.
AIAA has retained its status as a globally recognized technical pioneer with Dumbacher’s guidance. This has been achieved through his unwavering commitment to promoting the industry to policymakers and government officials at local, national, and international levels, as well as his bold and ambitious vision for the future of aerospace.
Dumbacher acknowledged that the Institute’s unwavering advancement amid the challenges presented by the pandemic resulted in innovative approaches to program delivery, all while upholding the Institute’s exceptional publishing proficiency. The AIAA members and stakeholders exhibited remarkable resilience during this unparalleled period, reflecting the inherent tenacity ingrained in our industry.
Dumbacher is widely recognized as an influential figure in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He has actively shared his expertise by writing editorials on relevant industry matters, making frequent appearances in media coverage of industry events, and expressing his dedication to fostering a STEM-literate workforce for the future. Additionally, he has been a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the aerospace sector, playing a crucial role in driving the industry towards a more representative demographic. As a result of his significant contributions, the Institute is now regarded as a vital voice in the industry.
AIAA is a prestigious organization driven by inspiration, perseverance, and exceptional achievements. The Institute has gained worldwide recognition as a symbol of aerospace excellence for almost a century. Leading the dedicated team at AIAA and collaborating with our committed volunteer members to further enhance AIAA’s esteemed reputation has been an immense honor. I would like to express my personal gratitude to the AIAA staff, our members, and all stakeholders for their valuable guidance and unwavering support over the years. I am humbled to have played a small role in the remarkable list of accomplishments we have collectively achieved, stated Dumbacher.
The AIAA Board of Trustees has hired Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) to help find the next CEO through a nationwide search. Led by Julia McGeorge and Stephanie Tomasso at the RRA Washington, DC office, the search is anticipated to last for several months.