As I first set out along the path upon which I would come to lead the NGPA, little did I know where that road would lead, what course our journey would take, or imagine where we would be today. I still remember that warm fateful summer 2014 afternoon, receiving Steven Moore’s call by which I would eventually come to lead our great organization, the National Gay Pilots Association.
As I then beheld my life in a mirror, I so well recall looking into my own heart and soul, asking, “How do my 27 years of life now qualify me to be NGPA’s next leader.” I knew that in order to succeed I needed to listen, surround myself with people wiser than myself, all the while walking side-by-side with ones who possess a great passion to love people and the mission of our NGPA. Whereas time and again, you as members of the NGPA wanted to tribute our success to Jan and me, rest assured that it is you and the thousands more NGPA members like you that continually promotes and propels our amazing organization.
Since my announcement to step down this coming February, it has been suggested how difficult it may be to find someone to fill our shoes. Alas, I think not. When I look back upon those that have come before us, Steve Walker, Steven Moore, amongst so many others, one truth remains ever present. We all have our own shoes in which we walk out life’s callings. Steven Moore could have never filled Steve Walker’s shoes, I could have certainly never filled Steven Moore’s, and the next President won’t fill mine. It is because we have our own different shoes that we are collectively strong.
Over the last several months, the NGPA Governance Committee set out in search of our next leader as President. Vice President Jan Anderson and I are ensuring that with our February departure, there shall be adequate time to hand over the NGPA leadership reins in an orderly manner that safeguards a timely and successful changeover. Part of this plan includes our continued commitment to serve NGPA as volunteers in our former President and Vice-President role.
Accordingly, yesterday, the NGPA Governance Committee and Board of Directors notified us that, Mr. Brian Gambino was unanimously elected as NGPA’s next President, effective February 15, 2020.
Brian will enter the role of President in 2020 after over 10 years of NGPA membership. Brian has successfully served as Director of NGPA Industry Expo and Corporate Relations for the past 4 years, which has helped him build strong relationships with many of our corporate sponsors. Brian graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science. There he served as the Vice-President of the Student Government Association along with being the President of his graduating class. He went on to fly in the regional airline market for 8 years before landing his current job as a First Officer with JetBlue Airways flying the Airbus 320/321 based in New York. Brian has the support of his husband, Jon Bellante, and they live in the city of Chicago. I have personally known Brian for 12 years since we first met as gate agents at Raleigh-Durham airport. I’ve seen him thrive and overcome challenges in the workplace and as a leader at NGPA over the years. When I consider someone who has the ability, vision, passion, determination and ultimately a love for people, I cannot think of a better person to lead our NGPA family than Brian.
Jan and I have great confidence in our Board of Directors as they guide, guard and govern NGPA’s future. Between now and February 15, 2020, Brian will be closely working with Jan and I as we transition the duties and responsibilities to President-Elect Brian Gambino. In the coming weeks, Brian will be nominating a Vice-President to serve alongside him, which shall be approved by Board vote. I can personally say Brian is incredibly excited to serve in the office of NGPA President. Through his humbling and loving character, you and NGPA will be in good hands.
2020 marks the 30th anniversary of NGPA. I couldn’t think of a better time or opportunity to be celebrating change and progress than bringing in new leaders to take NGPA on our continued successful course. Please join us at our 30th-anniversary celebration at the Winter Warm-Up in Palm Springs 2020, where Jan and I will welcome NGPA’s new President Brian Gambino.
NGPA has graduated from being a quiet, safe haven for the LGBTQ community to a tall beacon for hope, advocacy, visibility and accountability in the world around us over the years.
NGPA’s long line of leaders, volunteers, and steward made that happen. Every LGBTQ person, in the aviation community or not, stands straighter, taller, for it.
And for that, I will always be grateful.