It’s hard for me to believe that over a month has passed since our Annual Conference in Atlanta! It’s great news that I have been so busy flying that the time since Conference has gone by quickly! Given how things have looked in the world for the last 2 years, being back on a regular flying schedule is certainly a welcome change. Things in the US airline industry are getting back on track as domestic travel has rebounded well, with International travel starting to improve. I realize that things are not improving as rapidly in the industry in some other parts of the world, but I’m hopeful that soon, the rest of our ISA+21 sisters around the globe will see similar improvements and, ultimately, a return to the type of growth that was forecast prior to the pandemic. I can’t wait for us all to be able to travel to Dublin next September for a much needed and long overdue reunion!
That said, I would be remiss if I did not reflect upon our Conference last month. As you all know, we were scheduled to be in Dublin this year. As 2021 dawned, it became apparent that there was a very good chance that Ireland would still be pretty closed off in September. We began to embark on a parallel planning process, in case we would have to change the location of this year’s conference. As our Event Director Maggie Eickhoff lives and works in Atlanta, and Atlanta was well on its way to opening up for large groups, we decided that Atlanta would be our “plan B”. It also helped that we believed that there were some opportunities for sponsorships and donations from Delta Air Lines that would help enhance our conference experience. So Maggie took on the monumental task of side-by-side planning of this alternate location. Thankfully she had done this, because in early Spring, after a membership poll, we did end up making the difficult decision to postpone Dublin until 2022, and hold this year’s Conference in Atlanta. Maggie, like Kara last year, did an amazing job at keeping up to date on the ever changing protocols and restrictions and pivoting as necessary. I think all of the women in attendance would say that she did an incredible job under very challenging circumstances. That certainly does not mean that we didn’t miss the many members who, due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, were unable to join us. The Board was very aware that this would be the case but, like last year, decided that we would like to hold a conference for anyone who had the ability and desire to get together, as well as offer the virtual attendance. I am so glad we did! I am also eagerly planning my trip to Ireland next September and looking forward to seeing all of my ISA sisters who haven’t been able to attend for 2 years. I am optimistic that Dublin will be one of the best conferences EVER!
If you attended this year’s conference, please fill out and submit the post conference survey. It is so important to the Board to get feedback about how we are doing, and whether the members thinks the conference was what they had hoped it would be. This is how we make improvements to future conferences. As for those who weren’t in ATL, we want to hear from you as well.. about conference, about merchandising, about the direction of ISA+21. Please feel free to email me anytime at email@example.com. I look forward to seeing all of you in Dublin!
An anonymous member expressed that she wanted to honor the memory of ISA+21 Charter Member Holly Mullins and donated so that our Atlanta Evening Reception did just that. ISA+21 Charter Member Angela Masson read a remembrance written by ISA+21 Charter Member Stephanie Wallach recalling fond times with Holly. Accompanying the presentation was an assortment of photos of Holly, both candid personal photos as well as Holly at ISA+21 events. Thank you to member and close friend, Florence Sanders for sharing photos of Holly’s life with everyone.
During the evening reception, our Silent Auction was occurng where members placed their bids and won some outstanding items at the end of the evening. Thank you to all who donated to our silent auction. A dinner buffet from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse included delicious cuisine and dessert table, and was the perfect pairing to the Open Bar!
We also took this opportunity to recognized the achievement of longtime ISA+21 Honorary Member Wally Funk for going into space by airing a presentation that we collaborated with Blue Origin on.
At the end of the evening, Scholarship Director, Natasha Shcheglova accepted a big fat check from Spirit Airlines in the amount of one scholarship ($5,000!) that will go towards our Scholarship Program.
After the Silent Auction concluded, DJ Hatazi (ISA+21 Vice President Kara Hatzai’s husband), kept the tunes going for a fun night of dancing. (We were able to extend our stay in the reception room so the party could continue!)
The 2021 General Business Meeting started off as past meetings have with a roll call introductions from each of the 104 members in attendance along with introductions from our virtual members “Zooming” in. We held a moment of silence for member Aubrey Rice who passed away earlier this year. Then, each Board Member proceeded to present their updates to the Membership. View the Meeting Minutes here and follow along by watching/listening to the recording of the meeting.
Some highlights of Board Member presentations include updates on professional videos to be produced on ISA+21’s story, a designer Abingdon ISA+21 Watch available in 2022, recognizing new ISA+21 Lifetime Members, and expanding ISA+21’s sponsorship, volunteering, and mentorship programs. We have some exciting things on the horizon and appreciate the support of membership as we carry out our transformation vision of ISA+21!
For the second year now, Aviation Retirement Strategies sponsored our Luncheon and gave a brief presentation with a longer 401K seminar offered afterwards. We had another delicious plated meal catered by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. New this year, select Aspiring Members joined us for the Wednesday activities starting with the luncheon. Captain’s Club Coordinator, Katherine Wallace then introduced and presented plaques to nine new inductees to the ISA+21 Captain’s Club. The full Captain’s Club Induction presentation can be viewed on our YouTube Channel. Congratulations Ladies!
‘A Night at the Aquarium’ might just be the highlight of the 2021 Atlanta conference, and it would not have been possible without the support of Delta Air Lines.
The Ocean Voyager Exhibit of the Georgia Aquarium was mesmerizing! The underwater tunnel and massive viewing window provided some fantastic photo opportunities for our pilots and guests. The red-carpet photo booth was, as always, a huge hit! There were so many great pictures and smiles. If you haven’t seen all the photos, be sure to check out the album on Shutterfly!
After everyone had their fill of heavy hors d’oevres and a serving or two from the open bar, our President Tara Cook introduced our guest of honor, Delta Air Lines V.P. of Flight Ops and System Chief Pilot Captain Patrick Burns. A gentleman and a storyteller, Captain Burns told us an inspiring tale of his journey from boy-scout to senior leadership at one of the world’s largest airlines and how important it is to turn around and give a hand up to those behind you. His story resonated with our members as it perfectly paralleled our mission of Inspiring, Supporting, and Advocating for female pilots!
After awarding the raffle winners with many of our new ISA+21 products from our RedBubble ISA+21 Hangar Store, we moved the dining tables out of the way and DJ Hatzai cranked up the tunes once again! It was an epic dance party, and everyone had a blast!
ISA+21 Events Director
A full bus plus a couple of overflow cars headed off from the Embassy suites on Thursday morning – a whole bunch of members & friends were looking forward to the tour Maggie had put together. Twenty minutes later we arrived at the historic Pullman Yard warehouse (previously used for filming The Hunger Games & Divergent) where the immersive Van Gogh Experience is set up.
With our VIP tickets and on-time arrival, we zoomed through to start enjoying the huge digital reproductions of Van Gogh’s works. The first hall told much of the history in a fairly normal museum style, with a couple chances to take photos as though in his paintings. The second hall had an amazing floor to ceiling continuous loop of images floating, merging, colliding and retreating again – with a voiceover explaining links between his many works. This huge hall had beach chairs, cushions, mats and stools so everyone could lie back & relax while enjoying the inspirational view.
In the last hall the VIP tickets meant we could also experience the Virtual Reality trip through a few of Vincent’s memorable places! It was really cool to “fly” from scene to scene, spinning around and getting a full 360 degrees view of fields, forests, the café in Arles, the harbour and many others.
Once we all made our way through the gift shop, picking up our complimentary poster and other bits and pieces of memorabilia, we headed back to the bus and stop #2: lunch! The Mexican restaurant, Patria Cocina (Homeland Cuisine) dealt with us all wonderfully, delicious meals and tasty cocktails were the order of the day – they cook everything from scratch, no artificial additions at all and you could certainly taste it!
Then we only had to walk a few yards to the entrance of the Civil Axe Throwing venue, wearing our closed toed shoes, staying behind the line and following instructions. Some members – Brenda Robinette and Denise VanGrunsven, for example, were absolute prodigies! I would want to stay on their good side for sure! But I think everyone managed to get the hang of it after a few throws and quite a competition ensued!
Around 4pm we headed back into Atlanta, chatting all the way through the suburbs until we were dropped off by the Skyview site. We had glorious weather, sun and clear skies.. we see to the horizon from almost 20 stories high, safe and cool in their air conditioned gondolas. After several revolutions around the Ferris wheel, we all headed off on foot across the lovely Olympic Park back to our hotel. All in all, a great day!
Liz Jennings Clark, ISA+21 Member