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AADA Article GinaRadke

Gina Radke, Chief Executive Officer of Galley Support Innovations, and the new President of AADA, has become known over her 13- year business career, as the “toughest thing in a skirt.” When asked if she had to struggle with stigmas and stereotypes as a woman in a still predominately male-driven business world, she replied, no matter the gender question, “I am who I am, and I work hard. Respect comes from showing respect to others and proving I either know what I’m doing or am willing to learn. Respect comes from education and experience,” Both of which are to become even more of a priority in the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance.

Currently, there are eleven Aerospace Bachelor and Graduate Degrees in thirteen universities in the South. However, not as much value was being placed on early education. Radke plans to change that. She currently serves on the board of the Arkansas Career Education and Workforce Development Commission, and through the state agencies, seeks to expand educational opportunities by “developing a workforce pipeline starting with k-12 to get them excited about going into the Defense and Aerospace industry.”

AADA has a reputation for leading the South in Aerospace Education. Already the non-profit hosts Aerospace and Defense days for this age group, but now Radke is talking with the Little Rock School District about an Aeronautics program centered on STEM. Most Aerospace jobs are centered in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but Radke states, “We also have marketing jobs, sales jobs, technical jobs and HR jobs. This industry covers absolutely everything.”

Radke’s plans to send this message of opportunity to these age groups is three-fold. One, is the STEM focused Aeronautics program. Two, is by conducting field trips to the facilities, to the airports, and to all the different departments within the industry. Three, is to have industry executives speak to schools and career counselors, to promote opportunity, and growth for the Aerospace and Defense industry, and in turn, Arkansas economy.

The latter being the main focal point of Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance’s purpose, which Radke plans to uphold by, “Making the Alliance something that adds value to every single company that is under the Arkansas and Aerospace and Defense industry. I want it to bring training opportunities, economic development opportunity, and the possibility to sell more to local Arkansas businesses.” She plans to bring this to pass by offering more training consortiums and business to business meetings through trade shows and bringing new companies to Arkansas and by connecting more current companies in Arkansas.

AADA’s Ninth Annual Summit coming up in March is the perfect place to do such, where companies and agencies like NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing attend. There are over 10,000 people employed by the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense industry, approximately 180 aviation and aerospace-related companies in the state, which generates $1.8 billion dollars. This number will continue to grow as the Alliance expands, and the Summit helps make this happen.

This will be Radke’s eighth Summit, and she will be speaking on Workforce Development. As Radke herself is testament, respect and success come from education and experience, both of which the Alliance works towards providing every day. Radke states, “What I love about Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance is that it brings together and showcases the diversity of the workforce that is Arkansas Aerospace and Defense, which many people do not realize is the largest financial export in Arkansas.”