The AHS staff is lean but extremely efficient, with a staff to member ratio of 1:1,000 – one of the lowest in association organizations. The following descriptions indicate the basic areas of responsibility for each of the AHS headquarters staff directors. Any questions that you may have can be directed to the staff member who covers that area. You can contact us at +1-703-684-6777 – our extensions are listed below.
Executive Director, x111
Mike Hirschberg assumed the duties of the AHS Executive Director on June 1, 2011, after 20 years in the aerospace industry, primarily in vertical flight. As the Executive Director, he is responsible for the execution of the strategic direction set by the AHS Board of Directors.
He represents the vertical flight technical community and advocates for the advancement of vertical flight research and technology to the executive and legislative branches of the government. Mr. Hirschberg is the publisher of all society publications, including Vertiflite, the Journal of the AHS, and the AHS Annual Forum Proceedings.
Mr. Hirschberg was previously a principal aerospace engineer with CENTRA Technology, Inc., providing technical and program management support for over 10 years to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) on advanced aircraft and rotorcraft concepts. Prior to this, Mr. Hirschberg worked from 1994 to 2001 in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program Office, supporting the development of the X-32 and X-35 vertical flight propulsion systems.
He served as the Managing Editor of Vertiflite magazine from 1999 to 2011, and had been a contributing author since 1997. Mr. Hirschberg is an internationally-known lecturer, frequently presenting on vertical flight at short courses, meetings, conferences and universities, and is the author/co-author of more than 100 publications on helicopter, V/STOL and advanced aircraft developments, including three books.
Mr. Hirschberg holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia (1991) and a M.E. Mechanical Engineering from Catholic University of America (1996). He completed a Master of Business Administration at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) in 2013. He is proficient in speaking German.
He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).
Julie M. Gibbs
Director of Technical Programs, x103
Julie M. Gibbs originally worked for AHS as the Director of Membership (1999-2005) after 12 years in the Washington, DC, offices of GKN Westland (which became AgustaWestland) working as the Marketing and Meeting Manager. In more recent years she has worked as a Communications and Event Manager for a naval defense contractor and as an Executive Administrator supporting VP level management for a large IT technology service provider. She rejoined the Society in May 2016.
As the Director of Technical Programs, Julie is the principal liaison with the AHS technical community, supports the AHS Technical Director and all Technical Council meetings, and is the production manager of the Journal of the AHS. Julie also works closely with the Forum Technical Chair to coordinate the Forum’s technical sessions, and coordinates the Forum student volunteer program, and supports with the Technical Committees with planning and executing their Technical Meetings and other activities.
Julie is also the point of contact for awards established/reviewed by the AHS Technical Council, including the Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) Scholarships, the Robert L. Lichten Competition, the Alfred Gessow Forum Best Paper Award and the Student Design Competition.
Director of Meetings and Advertising, x105
David Renzi joined the Society in February 2002 and he is the principal coordinator of the AHS Annual Forum, the largest event of the year for the Society. He conducts all technical exhibit sales and coordinates the exhibit hall floor and sponsorships. He also administers the subcontracting for Forum activities including convention and hotel services, tours, special events, transportation, and entertainment.
David works with the Director of Membership in the coordination, planning and scheduling of the Annual Forum and bi-annual Board of Directors meeting.
He is also the principal advertising contact for Vertiflite magazine, the AHS website, and all Forum-related publications.
Director of Membership, x107
Valerie joined AHS in July 2015, with nearly 25 years of prior experience in international non-profits and membership associations, including the Wold Bank, World Resources Insitute and, most recently, with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Valerie is a graduate of the University of Toronto and is fluent in French.
Director of Information Resources, x104
Randy Johnson joined the Society in October 2007. He is the Society’s in-house IT specialist and is responsible for all network and systems administration. He is also the Society’s webmaster, and together with the Director of Membership is responsible for configuration and maintenance of the AHS membership database.
Deputy Director of Membership, x102
Betty Chen joined the AHS staff in August 2014 after serving in technical and administrative roles in the U.S., China and Argentina. She is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese and is proficient in Spanish.
As Deputy Director of Membership, Betty manages educational membership, student chapters, as well as AHS store licenses and printed and electronic publication subscriptions. She is also the principal point-of-contact for purchases of proceedings, technical papers, books, as well as AHS novelties. Betty is the Vertical Flight Foundation (VFF) Scholarship Fundraising Coordinator as well as the Forum Registrar. As a result of her background, she is also assisting with the Society's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach efforts.
Administrative Assistant/Office Manager, x100
Itzel Zelaya joined AHS in July 2016 after serving as a marketing assistant for a real estate company. As Administrator Assistant, Itzel provides administrative and office support. She is supporting the Society's membership, financial and marketing activities, as well as website updates and social media outreach.
Itzel is a graduate of George Mason University with a degree in marketing, and is fluent in Spanish.
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