Avionics News June 2019 - 54

CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS
Continued from page 53

meet their peers, nothing can. The same is true for the show's
signature free exhibit-hall lunch, with its open seating and
relaxed atmosphere. It's also true for all the other networking
opportunities throughout the exhibit hall, in the training
seminars, during the regulatory update sessions and in the
hotel lobby after hours.
But while social events designed to foster business
networking and advance attendees' professional development
are a significant part of each AEA annual meeting - as well
as its regional events worldwide - that's far from the only
reason the association and the industry it serves got together
in Palm Springs.
Leadership Changes
Some of the most impactful news made at the AEA
Convention came on its first day, during the opening
ceremony. As she announced at last year's event, Paula
Derks ended her four decades of service to the AEA,
and the preceding 23 years as the association's president
and chief executive officer, with a warmly felt standing
ovation accompanied by a farewell video featuring
industry leaders. As she entered retirement, Derks sorted
through many emotions and memories to thank the
association - its members, staff and leadership - and to

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2019

urge it onward to the next challenges it will face.
"As I prepared for this day, I realized that my journey is
so much more than my personal achievements; I got the rare
opportunity to help grow something," she told attendees,
relating her earlier experiences with a much-smaller
organization run by her father, Monte Mitchell. "And then to
watch the amazing avionics technologies that have developed
over these past 40 years while I've been here, and all of you
who have been a part of that, whether you have designed and
produced those products, or whether you maintain and install
those products, I cannot imagine a more-perfect and better
industry to be a part of, and a witness," Derks added.
"So today, I simply want to pay my respect to this industry,
and my thanks to my colleagues, my friends and my family,"
she said. As she left the stage, her service to the AEA ended,
and her retirement began.
Incoming AEA President and CEO Mike Adamson led
another round of applause for Derks as he took the stage.
Formerly the association's vice president of member programs
and education, Adamson was named to his new position by
the AEA's board of directors in October, effective the first
day of the convention. Previously, he has been responsible for
the association's training and education programs on behalf
of technicians and small-business owners throughout the
world. A U.S. Navy veteran, graduate of the aviation program
at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and an MBA
from Avila University, Adamson also played a major role in



Avionics News June 2019

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