February 14, 2022 |

Aerospace Center for Excellence & SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo Selects New President/CEO

Gene Conrad

LAKELAND, FL: The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) and SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo (SnF) Board of Directors are thrilled to announce that Gene Conrad has been named the organization’s new President/CEO commencing April 11, 2022.

Conrad, who was born in Oshkosh, WI and resides in Lakeland, FL, has been the Airport Director of Lakeland Linder International Airport since 2010. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Aviation Management, his previous positions include Deputy Director, Marketing Air Service Development, Branson Airport, Hollister, MO and Air Service Coordinator & Marketing Manager, Dayton International Airport, Dayton OH.

During his tenure at Lakeland Linder International Airport, Conrad managed a $200M capital improvement program, negotiated a 50-year lease with Amazon Air Cargo and led the successful relocation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aircraft Operations Center to the airport.

Rick Garcia, President/CEO of Gulf Coast Avionics, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Aerospace Center for Excellence said, “Gene’s track record and success here at Lakeland Linder International Airport makes him the best choice for the future of the Aerospace Center For Excellence and the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo.”

Harley Richards, SUN ‘n FUN Board Chairman, stated “The entire Board of Directors are extremely excited to have Gene lead ACE/SnF into the next chapter on our quest to provide unmatched career opportunities for young men and women and drive the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo to new heights of success.”

Having volunteered at EAA AirVenture for over 34 years, Gene is well prepared to acclimate into the volunteer culture of a non-profit aviation organization. He is set to officially join the team on March 7, 2022 to start the transition to be the next CEO following the completion of the 2022 SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo.

“After working closely with Gene as the Airport Manager over the last 10 years I can state without reservation that his heart and passion has been to ensure that the future of ACE and SnF was protected for future growth. I am looking forward to seeing ACE/SnF reach new heights of success under his leadership.”, stated Lites Leenhouts, current President/CEO of ACE/SnF.

When asked his thoughts on this new challenge, Gene stated, “I am both humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to lead such an incredible organization that just within the last several years has evolved from not only a major aviation expo, but now a nationally recognized Aerospace Youth Education Complex, educating thousands of students annually. I am anxious to join the team and share in my passion for aviation.”

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