NAFI Names New Board Chair and Hall of Fame Selection Committee

National Association of Flight Instructors elects Karen Kalishek as board chair and names five-member committee.

The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) has elected Karen Kalishek as its new chair. Her term will begin on January 1, 2022.

Kalishek, of De Pere, Wisconsin, has been a member of the NAFI board since 2018. She earned her private pilot certificate in 2006. These days, she’s a: designated pilot examiner, ATP, three-time NAFI Master Instructor, FAA Gold Seal Instructor, CFII/MEI/CFI-G, AGI/IGI, and a FAASTeam Lead Representative in the Milwaukee (MKE) FSDO.

In 2019, Kalishek received the National FAASTeam Representative of the Year award and is actively involved with several aviation organizations.

As an independent flight instructor, Kalishek has a particular fondness for antique aircraft and enjoys spending quality time with her Van’s Aircraft RV-6.

During her time on the board, Kalishek has helped move NAFI forward with a commitment to facilitating a broader reach for NAFI in government and industry relations. A primary focus of hers is runway safety. Kalishek regularly attends the FAA Surface Safety Group meetings.

Before becoming a full-time flight instructor, Kalishek was an executive in the banking industry and spent more than 20 years providing international consulting services in 37 countries.

“Karen’s enthusiasm and passion is an asset to the organization,” said current chair, Bob Meder. “Her willingness to take initiative to seek new opportunities for NAFI is outstanding. I am pleased that such an outstanding candidate will take on the role of chair of NAFI. Her experience and impressive career are a perfect fit to carry on the important work that NAFI does for flight instructors and all of aviation education.”

As Kalishek moves into the chair position, Meder will become chair emeritus, and will continue to make important contributions to the flight instruction community as a member of NAFI’s board.

“Having the opportunity to be a board member of this highly respected and vital association in and of itself has been a privilege,” Kalishek said. “Now, I am truly honored to take on this role and I appreciate the board’s trust in me. I look forward to continuing the important work NAFI does for aviation education as it has since NAFI’s founding by Jack Eggspuehler and colleagues in 1967.”

Kalishek said there is one thing a CFI needs to get right when training primary students:

“Various studies have found that 60 to 80 percent of people who start initial flight training quit before achieving a private pilot certificate. The high dropout rate is a real concern that needs to be addressed.

“Flight instructors are the continuing point of contact with any individual in training and are therefore key to successfully completing initial certification,” she said. “Getting that right means quality instruction along with building a relationship which helps the individual achieve his or her aviation goals, understanding motivations, being a mentor and resource.”

Kalishek added that one of the most important initiatives NAFI can continue relates to overall growth of the pilot population.

“To grow the pilot population, more flight instructors are needed. I am excited about developing NAFI’s role in building the number of active CFIs, and therefore supporting overall growth in aviation.”

New Selection Panel Named

NAFI also recently named their new selection panel for the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame. The award program recognizes individuals who make significant contributions to aviation education and flight instruction, reflecting honor on themselves and their profession—and highlights the important safety role they play in the national air transportation system.

Named to the new Flight Instructor Hall of Fame selection panel were:

  • Greg Brown, retired U.S. Marine Corps aviator
  • Col. Julie Tizard (U.S. Air Force, retired), 40-year professional pilot
  • Thomas P. Turner, 2015 Flight Instructor Hall of Fame inductee
  • Barry Schiff, author and retired TWA captain
  • Brittney Tough, a CFI and commercial pilot

“With this panel of professional aviators, we anticipate a large cross-section of the industry will have the opportunity to receive recognition for this important award, and we are proud to administer this award for all flight instructors regardless of NAFI membership,” said John Niehaus, NAFI’s director of program development.

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