Blake Woolsey appointed chairwoman of XNA board

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 967 views 

Blake Woolsey of Fayetteville was recently appointed chairwoman of the board of directors for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority after chairman Art Formanek resigned to establish an aviation program at a Springfield, Mo., community college.

Bentonville attorney Brian Burke was appointed to replace Formanek on the board. Burke’s term expires Dec. 31. Earlier this year, Formanek was named chairman of the board, and Woolsey was appointed vice chair.

Woolsey said she had expected taking the role of chairwoman at some point, but the change came sooner than expected.

“It’s moved me forward quite a bit,” said Woolsey, who has worked in public relations since 1992. She was executive vice president at Fayetteville public relations firm Mitchell, and she recently started doing contract work as a facilitator, trainer and executive coach.

One of the most pressing tasks of the governing board for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) is to select the next CEO and executive director for the Highfill airport as Scott Van Laningham plans to retire from those positions. The board recently narrowed down the number of candidates to three: XNA Airport Director Kelly Johnson; Aaron Burkes, president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority; and Steve Hennigan, assistant general manager of operations for Bush Intercontinental Airport of the Houston Airport System. A second round of interviews is expected later this month.

After a new CEO is selected, which could happen as soon as Thursday, the board will look to choose a chief operating officer, chief financial officer and chief development officer, Woolsey said. Other major projects include the terminal expansion and renovation and the construction of an access road to the airport.

“All of us as a board would love to see that come to fruition,” she said.

After Woolsey was appointed chairwoman, Sara Lilygren was named vice chair. Woolsey has served on the board since January 2015.

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