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ARSA, AAR’s Holmes Laud Duckworth

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) received ARSA’s Legislative Leadership Award on March 10, 2021 in recognition of her efforts protect aviation maintenance jobs during the pandemic and improve technician training. Photo courtesy Office of U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

ARSA presented its 2021 Legislative Leadership Award to Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) as part of the association’s Legislative Day on March 10. The honor is given annually to a member of Congress who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the aviation maintenance community.

AAR President & CEO John Holmes, who presented this year’s award on behalf of ARSA, lauded Duckworth as, “a true champion for the aviation maintenance industry and our workers” and highlighted her work to ensure the CARES Act included economic relief for repair stations. The association estimates repair stations received approximately $500 million through the Payroll Support Program and more than half of ARSA’s members received forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans in 2020.

Duckworth has also been a vital ally in other recent maintenance-sector legislative victories, including establishing and funding the new workforce grant program and the enactment last year of a bill to force FAA to update 14 CFR part 147 and bring aviation technician training rules out of the dark ages.

As part of the award presentation, Holmes highlighted Duckworth’s “amazing backstory.” Born in Thailand, her mother was Thai and her father was an American Army and Marine Corps Veteran who worked on refugee and development issues. After graduating from the University of Hawaii and the George Washington University, Duckworth joined the Illinois Army National Guard. In 2004, she deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, one of the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On Nov. 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by an RPG and she lost her legs and partial use of her right arm.

Following her recovery, Duckworth became director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and, in 2009, President Obama appointed her assistant secretary of veteran’s affairs. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and the Senate in 2016. During all that, she was holding down other important jobs: She didn’t retire from the Illinois National Guard – as a lieutenant colonel – until 2014 and is also a working mother of two daughters who in 2018 became the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.

During her time in Congress, Duckworth has staked out a reputation as an effective lawmaker who can work across the aisle.  She serves on several committees that impact the maintenance industry, including Armed Services, Environment & Public Works, Small Business and Commerce, Science, & Transportation and that committee’s aviation subcommittee.

“We’re extremely pleased that Senator Duckworth was able to join us to receive the award and just as pleased that John [Holmes] agreed to present it,” ARSA Executive Vice President Christian A. Klein said. “John’s leadership and personal involvement in the legislative process have been critical to our collective success. He sets the standard for an engaged CEO and has helped advanced policies that benefit not just AAR, but our entire industry and the hundreds of thousands of Americans we employ.”

For more information about the Annual Conference, including access to recordings and other resources produced during the event, visit arsa.org/conference.



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