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The AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is the philanthropic arm of AOPA. Your contributions fund programs that membership dues don’t cover including the AOPA Air Safety Institute and You Can Fly program. Our goal is to fund opportunities of growth beyond what AOPA membership dues can accomplish, for the entire general aviation community.

Charity Navigator is America's premier independent charity evaluator. Click on the logo to review our four star rating.

Charity Navigator is America's premier independent charity evaluator. They help charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions by providing in-depth, objective ratings and analysis of the financial health and accountability & transparency of America's largest charities. Charity Navigator awarded the AOPA Foundation four out of a possible four stars. Receiving four out of a possible four stars indicates that the AOPA Foundation adheres to good governance and other best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way. Please click on the logo above to review our four star rating.

Meet the AOPA Foundation Staff

Melissa Rudinger

Melissa has been with AOPA for more than 28 years and joined the AOPA Foundation as Executive Director in October 2019. Melissa leads a team of dedicated professionals who are focused on funding programs that grow the pilot population, improve safety, and make flying more accessible and affordable. In her previous AOPA roles Melissa has worked in both Public Relations and Government Affairs. She has advocated for General Aviation interests at the Federal, State and Local levels of government on matters affecting airmen, aircraft, and air traffic control. She has also represented AOPA's international policy interests at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and other international regulatory bodies. Additionally, Melissa serves on RTCA’s Board of Directors and previously served as Co-Chair of the FAA NextGen Advisory Committee Subcommittee and as an appointee for the National Park Service Overflight Advisory Group. A pilot for more than 35 years, Melissa holds a commercial pilot certificate with a lighter-than-air rating. She has FAA Academy training in Airspace Design and Analysis, Air Traffic Management, Terminal Procedures Development, and Environmental Policy. Melissa began her aviation career in 1983 at a small FBO in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During this time, Melissa also launched Conestoga Hot Air Balloons, a commercial hot air balloon business that operated half a dozen balloons providing sightseeing flights, and flight instruction. Her company was also an FAA certified balloon repair station. Contact Melissa at (301) 514-0923 or [email protected]
latest collection of AOPA staff portraits

Sam Jackson

Sam joined the AOPA Foundation team in 2019 and currently serves as the Manager of Development Marketing & Communications. Sam is responsible for internal and external communications that convey the impact the Foundation makes in the General Aviation community. Prior to joining the Foundation team, Sam worked as the Marketing Director at the YMCA in Frederick, Maryland for six years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. Sam is looking forward to becoming a Private Pilot. Contact Sam at (301) 695-2333 or [email protected]
Second round of AOPA Staff portraits

Becky Johnston

Becky joined the AOPA Foundation team in 2017 and is the Senior Manager of Development & Planned Giving. She serves as the liaison for Hat in the Ring Society, President’s Council and Legacy Society members. After graduating from Salisbury University in 2004, Becky began her career in fundraising for an order of Catholic priests and Brothers where she held several positions during her twelve-year tenure. Becky is a student pilot and is enjoying the flight training process with her ever-patient CFI. Contact Becky at (301) 695-2274 or [email protected]
latest collection of AOPA staff portraits

Lili Leonard

Lili joined the AOPA Foundation in June 2019 and works closely with all members of the AOPA Foundation team to manage day-to-day operations. She has more than 11 years of fundraising experience in higher education and non-profit organizations and earned her CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) designation in 2017. She also holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Lili loves riding bicycles, participating in triathlons, and being outdoors. She is actively working on her sport pilot certificate and lives in Maryland with her wife and two dogs. Contact Lili at (301) 695-2213 or [email protected]

Agnes Macdonald-Hutchins

Agnes joined the AOPA Foundation in 2009 after working in AOPA’s marketing department for seven years. During her tenure, she has worked on many projects to help the organization achieve its goals. She works closely with the Executive Director and Director of Development Operations to help drive the strategic direction by assisting with creation and execution of budgets, ongoing systems management, research and process improvements. Prior to AOPA, she worked for a direct marketing firm and managed a printing company, where she was highly involved with other nonprofit organizations. Agnes holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in management with a nonprofit specialization. She began her private pilot license training and hopes to get back into flying soon. Contact Agnes at (301) 695-2112 or [email protected]
Picture of Kim Reed from the AOPA Foundation

Kim Reed

Kim joined AOPA more than 35 years ago, and since October 2016, she has been working with the AOPA Foundation as an Administrative Assistant where she provides key administrative support to the team. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kim served as a Member Services Representative, where she used her experience communicating with the members and knowledge of the AOPA database to provide excellent service to members. Prior to that, Kim was the Program Specialist for the Airport Support Network Program (ASN). Contact Kim at (301) 695-2208 or [email protected]

Carli Stone

Carli has been with AOPA since 2017 and joined the AOPA Foundation in March 2020 as Development Coordinator. Prior to joining the Foundation, Carli was a Member Services Senior Specialist, where she provided comprehensive assistance with membership needs and provided excellent customer service. Carli earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Maryland University College in 2018. Contact Carli at (301) 695-2207 or [email protected]

Don Weinbach

Don joined the AOPA Foundation in 2020 as Major Gifts Officer after 29 years in higher education development, including serving as Vice President for Development & Alumni Affairs at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut since 1996. A member of AOPA since 2004, Don works with his colleagues at the Foundation to increase major gifts in support of AOPA’s strategic initiatives. Contact Don at (301) 695-2101 or [email protected]
latest collection of AOPA staff portraits

Laurie Whitaker

Laurie joined the AOPA Foundation in July 2019 with more than 20 years of prospect research and development experience. She works closely with the Vice President of the Foundation and other team members. Laurie helps drive the strategic direction by working on proactive and reactive prospect research projects and assists in maintaining database integrity. Prior to joining AOPA, she worked for cultural, educational, and healthcare organizations in Alexandria, VA, Baltimore, MD, and in her native MA. Laurie had a prospect research and consulting business for several years as well. She has a BA from Assumption College, JD from Catholic University, and Certificate in Fundraising from UMass Amherst. Laurie enjoys travel, sports, spending time with family and friends, and supporting animal welfare issues. Contact Laurie at (301) 695-2173 or [email protected]