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Aviation Alliance’s Selena Shilad Dies at 45
November 29, 2023
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  • The general aviation community lost a “fierce advocate” with the November 24 passing of Selena Shilad, the executive director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA). Shilad, who was 45, died after a brief illness.

    She joined the Alliance after it was formed in 2007 and was promoted to executive director within a year, holding that role until she passed on Friday.

    “Selena was one of the most committed, passionate, resourceful, and effective coalition builders and aviation advocates imaginable,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, who serves as chair of the Alliance. “Every single day, she engaged with community leaders, organizations, and individuals from across the country to powerfully communicate the central role of general aviation in America.”

    During her tenure with the nonprofit advocacy organization, she elevated the focus on the economic role that the general aviation community had on a local, regional, and national level. She brought together a wide range of groups—from the League of Rural Voters to the National Grange and Restaurant Equipment World—to advocate for the industry.

    Under her leadership, the Alliance grew to encompass more than 7,000 individuals, businesses, agricultural groups, FBOs, small airports, local and community elected officials, charitable organizations, law enforcement associations, think tanks, tribal leadership, and aviation associations.

    She is credited with helping to facilitate numerous state and local proclamations on the benefits of general aviation, along with local and regional news stories and economic impact surveys in nearly all 50 states.

    Before joining AAAA, Shilad coordinated high-profile initiatives for corporate and nonprofit clients across a range of industries and served as a legislative advisor in state and national campaigns, including in Arizona and Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago, as well as a master’s from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

    “We remember Selena as a person of endless passion, indefatigable energy, loyal and joyful friendship, infectious optimism, and integrity,” Bolen added. “Our entire industry is stronger and better for her efforts and having known her.”

    National Air Transportation Association president and CEO Curt Castagna further said that the general aviation community is mourning the loss of a “true industry champion” and said, “Selena’s skill in creating community and strategizing for the greater good of general and business aviation was unmatched and will be dearly missed. Our hearts and thoughts go out to her family and countless loved ones.”

    She is survived by her parents Shafi and Karen, her brother Justin, and her daughter Amaya.