Leading in Central MA: George Allen, Worcester Reg. Flight Academy
Monday, May 05, 2014
A Conversation with George Charles Allen
SW: A lot of exciting things have happened since we last spoke. Do you want to talk a little about the awards that The Worcester Regional Flight Academy has been receiving?
GA: This has been a crowning year for us. This month we celebrate four years in business. In June we were honored to receive the Key to the City of Worcester from Mayor Joe Petty, and that key seems to have unlocked the door to many other unexpected awards to follow. We were honored by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a national aviation organization, as one of the Top 10 Flight Schools in the country of over 500 schools surveyed, and our chief instructor, Bill Allen, was named one of the Top 25 Flight Instructors in the US for the second year in a row. We were also recognized by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce this past March 2014 for all of our hard work in the way of community outreach with a Breakfast Club award.
But, truth be told, we aren't in this to win awards. Our goal from day one has always been to provide the highest quality of customer service, education and programming for students of all ages and ambitions to explore the exciting world of aviation and aerospace right in their own back yard. The best award or reward for us is the smile on someone's face after experiencing flight for the first time, or when they've returned from their flight exam with a pilot's license in their hand.
SW: The AeroVenture Institute is an exciting project for you and the Central Ma community. Can you describe it in brief?
GA: The AeroVenture Institute at the EcoTarium is an exciting new partnership and one-of-its-kind Aerospace Learning Center for youth in Massachusetts, and the Northeast Region, providing an alternative and comprehensive educational opportunity where Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) meet real-life, hands-on exploration through flight and aerospace technology. All of our STEM programs are firmly rooted in the Aviation and Aerospace fields, and taught by professionals in the industry. With Worcester being the home of rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard, and the David Clark Company, this could not be a more exciting opportunity or location.
We are positioned as the community’s “go to” source for these comprehensive and exciting programs, and are poised to give students the best and broadest aerospace education available in Central Massachusetts. We are proud to have the EcoTarium, JetBlue, and David Clark as community partners and invaluable additional resources in our efforts to promote the best of science education and literacy for our youth, as well as enhance the nation’s future and burgeoning Aerospace industry.
SW: What are you hoping to accomplish?
GA: The AeroVenture Institute’s primary focus is to attract students who are interested in and passionate about aviation and aerospace and may consider careers in these industries. While not all students attending the Institute will ultimately work in aviation or aerospace, they will earn a great advantage by attending our programs and gaining both academic and employable skills that are transferable to a wide range of industries and careers.
In addition, through our various industry and community partnerships, the AeroVenture Institute is capable of having a student in high school earn high school science elective credit, up to six college-level credits, and a private pilot license all before graduating. That's an amazing and unique opportunity that has never before existed for students in Massachusetts.
SW: Your Top Gun program instantly brings to mind Tom Cruise and the adventure of flying! What does your Top Gun program offer to the community.
GA: Top Gun lets community members of any age earn their first five hours of flight training with The Worcester Regional Flight Academy and become a master of the skies over Worcester! If someone has always had a desire to fly and wants to know what it takes to become a pilot, this is an opportunity to test their wings and begin their pilot journey by building real-world experience and flight time, with absolutely NO commitment. You might just have the opportunity to meet a real Naval aviator during the course of your program, too!
SW: Jack Welch made the statement that good business leaders create, articulate, own and relentlessly drive a vision to completion. What is your vision?
GA: For the AeroVenture Institute, my vision is to create opportunity for the next generation of aviators or aerospace pioneers to learn, experiment, play, get their hands dirty, explore, gain confidence and understand the immense opportunities and endless possibilities that lay before them. If we have gone from the Wright Bros. rickety 1903 flyer to a man on the moon a mere 66 years later; to advanced jetliners, space shuttles, the International Space Station, and Virgin Galactic commercial sub-orbital space flights in 110 years ... just imagine where we can be in another 100 years. Imagine what adventures lay ahead, easily within the lifetime of the young adults we are educating and inspiring today.
SW: What else is on the drawing board for 2014?
GA: We have a lot of awesome courses on the horizon this year. Our first course at the EcoTarium begins June 1st and is called the Flight of Imagination, where students in Middle and High School will learn about the science of flight and rocketry with exciting hands on activities, which ultimately concludes with an actual flight lesson around the city of Worcester! We are also offering a Rookie Aviator STEMinar for students looking to gain flight experience and college credits this summer, and then there is our annual Aerospace Discovery Weekend in August. In the fall, we'll be building actual full-sized airplanes with students, launching weather balloons to the edge of space, as well as building rockets and so much more! Definitely keep an eye on our website for frequent updates, we have a lot of innovative courses on the rise.
SW: How do you define success for your business and yourself?
GA: Our greatest success is providing a solid foundational learning experience for our students to carry throughout the rest of their lives, no matter what they do. We've enjoyed watching our students grow from knowing absolutely nothing about aviation (other than the fact that they loved it), to growing into full-fledged pilots, or soaring off to some of the top schools in the country such as Harvard University, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and embarking upon the adventure of a lifetime. We are only successful when our students are successful in fulfilling their dreams and desires.
GoLocalWorcester presents Leading in Central Ma, a weekly profile of an outstanding community or business leader. Join us every Monday for an inspiring look at the careers and lifestyles of Central Massachusetts’s most influential citizens. If you have suggestions for a profile, please email [email protected].
Susan D. Wagner is president of Susan Wagner PR, a boutique public relations firm invested in meeting client's goals with integrity and creativity.
Related Slideshow: 14 To Watch in Central Mass in 2014
EcoTarium's Cox, who took the helm in 2012, is one to certainly watch in 2014. If you don't know Joe, he helped raise over $26.5 million at his previous post at the Galisano Children's Museum in Florida – and broke attendance projections in the process. If a track record of success is any indicator of a future one, expect to see amazing things at the Ecotarium.
Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, EcoTarium will soon house one of the most unique exhibits in the country. A team of researchers led by Robert L. Ryan, professor of landscape architecture and regional planning at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, along with Worcester's Clark University and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, will integrate the science of urban systems into a new "City Science" exhibit.
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With Michael O'Brien's departure from the City Manager post he'd held since 2004 for the private sector, Ed Augustus got tapped from his Director of Communications post at Holy Cross to fill O'Brien's shoes – but for an interim basis only. The former McGovern staffer and State Senator will take the helm for nine months only, leaving the big question in 2014 as to who will be the next City Manager.
The next City Manager will have a myriad of issues to deal with, from economic development, to crime – a top issue as far as residents are concerned. Will the next City Manager address the fact that while more than 40 percent of Worcester's population is a minority, the City has more than 1,600 full- and part-time city employees and well over 80 percent of them are white. Will city government ever reflect the population of Worcester?
The Hamilton native, who did a stint at Syracuse before declaring for the NBA draft this year, is already making an impact as a pro.
In February, GoLocal's John Barone broke the news that Hamilton native, and Syracuse Orange guard, Michael Carter-Williams would declare for the 2013 NBA draft after his sophomore season.
Carter-Williams, a 2011 McDonald’s All-American at St. Andrews in Rhode Island, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. He is currently having himself quite a rookie year, with 17.6 point and 7.8 assist per game averages.
Dr. Dickson, who was named President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care this past February, will no doubt continue to have an influential role in the community.
During his tenure to date, challenges have included financial and labor issues, but also oversight of major changes as well -- Dickson appointed a new president of UMass Memorial Medical Center, Patrick Muldoon, and embarked on closer collaboration with Baystate Health to improve quality, access, and affordability of care.
Republican activist and Boylston school committee member Brad Wyatt will definitely be someone to watch in 2014, having just announced he's running for State Representative.
Wyatt is eyeing Hank Naughton's seat in the 12th Worcester District, as Naughton's now seeking the office of Attorney General. According to the Red Mass Group, the district, which includes Boylston, Clinton, Lancaster, and Berlin is the 38th most Republican leaning district in the Commonwealth. Scott Brown took the 12th in 2010 63-36, and Charlie Baker got 51% to Deval Patrick's 40%. Could Wyatt see a similar success in 2014? Stay tuned.
The Holy Cross senior is no stranger to politics – both locally, and in Washington, DC, having worked as an intern in the Office of Communications at The White House (and before that both in the office of the Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Worcester.)
As President and co-founder of the Worcester Student Government Association, Hakim told GoLocal's Susan Wagner, "Lately I have been describing myself as a pragmatist. I’m definitely a dreamer, but I believe the only way to get anything done is to make an honest assessment of where things stand and then go from there."
Who will get medical marijuana licenses in Worcester County will be watched for certain in 2014.
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Future of the T&G
What will become of the Telegram and Gazette will no doubt be closely watched in 2014.
GoLocal's Dean Starkman wrote in November of the scenario, "The Telegram and Gazette, a wallflower among New England newspapers that has suffered years of benign neglect by distant owners, seemed poised for a revival, after John Henry scooped it up as part of his landmark deal to buy the Boston Globe. Now a month later, he’s putting it on the block."
The potential future of the paper that has a nearly 150-year presence in the city and circulation of roughly 75,000 was broken down by Starkman. One of the major question marks is if new ownership would be local, or a return to a New York parent company.
The quintessential power player in Worcester has been a tireless advocate for the Commonwealth's tourism and visitor industry – with clear focus on developing the Canal District and the Blackstone Valley.
Giangregorio sits on the boards of Preservation Worcester and the Worcester Convention and Visitor Bureau, and also serves on the steering committee of Citizens for Business and as representative for the Canal District on the Mayor's Small Business Roundtable.
Be Like Brit
The legacy of Britney Gengel, who perished in the 2010 Haiti earthquake while on a service trip with Lynn University, continues to move forward through the Be Like Brit orphanage.
What started as a project built in her memory is now home to 35 children, and employs more than 40 full-time employees. According to the Be Like Brit website, hundreds of American and Canadian college students and other volunteers visit or volunteer at Be Like Brit each year.
He might have gotten the nod earlier this year for his cool factor, but GoLocal is putting Corazzini on our list of people to watch because of his "kid" factor.
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Waterman, the CEO of Girls, Inc., didn't always know she'd end up in the role of spearheading the 97-year-old organization in Worcester that allows girls the ability to participate in enrichment programs and get the tools, opportunities, and encouragement needed to grow.
A 20 year veteran of the mortgage banking industry, Waterman created "Divorce Mortgage Specialists" to help women in transition, before switching gears to head up Leading Women Massachusetts as President, providing cutting-edge leadership development solutions for women in organizations. Now, Waterman is setting her sights on the 100 year anniversary of Girls Inc. in 2016.
Central Rock Gym
Could 2014 be the year you start climbing to the top? If you haven't already been to a Central Rock Gym, watch out, because you could just catch the climbing bug.
Now in four locations in MA and CT, the gym offers climbing opportunities for all ages and abilities, and hosts climbing camps, regional, national – and international – competitions.
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