New NBAA chief brings heavy political clout

 - July 28, 2008, 10:18 AM

Shelley Longmuir, United Airlines’ senior vice president of international, regulatory and governmental affairs, has been named president of NBAA and will take office July 7. She succeeds Jack Olcott, who is retiring after more than 11 years at the helm of the association.

Although she is a novice to business aviation, Longmuir brings impressive credentials to her new position. As United’s top lobbyist, she led a team of more than 50 attorneys, economists and lobbyists responsible for implementing the airline’s regulatory and governmental affairs agenda. She has also held posts in the Executive Branch of the federal government.

“One of my critical jobs as expressed by the board is to go out and meet our members and get input from them as to where they want their organization to be headed,” Longmuir told AIN. “At the same time I get to have a wonderful crash course in this whole community.” The day before she talked with AIN, Longmuir had visited the Altria Corporate Services flight department at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., and FlightSafety International at Teterboro, N.J., where she received an overview on flight training and flew a Falcon simulator. “Of course, I’m going to tell you I flew magnificently,” she laughed.

Before joining UAL in 1993, the 47-year-old Longmuir worked at the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Justice departments. At the DOT, she worked for then-Transportation Secretary Andrew Card, who is now President Bush’s chief of staff. She served as chief of staff for the Presidential task force on Hurricane Andrew recovery and was honored by Card with a special achievement award for outstanding federal service for work on the hurricane relief effort. Longmuir revealed that her name was referred to the NBAA’s executive search firm by a contact within the current White House.

When NBAA began searching for a successor to Olcott early this year, it said it wanted the next association president to be broadly qualified and adept at representing the membership and the business aviation industry. In addition to obvious contacts in the current Bush Administration, Longmuir has years of experience working with many of the aviation committees in Congress.

“We are excited that Shelley is bringing her experience, leadership and vision to our association,” said NBAA chairman George Saling. “With the challenges facing business aviation today, it is especially important that NBAA continues to be a powerful advocate for our members and the entire business aviation community.

“NBAA’s role is especially important today as the industry grapples with issues of security and access to airports post-9/11,” Saling said. “Shelley’s background and knowledge of the political and regulatory arenas, as well as her extensive international experience, will be great assets as we work together on these issues.”

While at United, Longmuir said she ran a division that dealt with local and federal government, regulatory and international affairs, including a worldwide team that advised the State Department on bilateral agreements to gain additional access to foreign airports.

“My experience at United was dealing in large part with agency, governmental and legal hurdles that have to be dealt with to get access or efficiencies for the airline to operate,” Longmuir told AIN. “I think my legal training was of good use, not just in the regulatory arena but also as effective advocate for a cause, regardless of the capital city–domestic or foreign–in which the dilemma or challenge existed.”

Longmuir and her husband, who also is a lawyer, are parents of a four-year-old son. Like many people who work in Washington– including members of Congress and many federal appointees–she will divide her time between two residences, in the Chicago area and the national capital region.

A magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University, Longmuir received her law degree from New York University School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois, New York and the District of Columbia.

Longmuir helped United minimize the effect of new federally mandated security-related costs for commercial carriers and worked to secure more than $1 billion in tax savings and compensation following 9/11.

She will travel around the country visiting business aircraft operators and talk to as wide a cross section of the membership as possible. “This is the members’ organization,” Longmuir said, “and the board of directors wants NBAA to be responsive to member needs.”