Meet our Board Members

Thomas "Mike" Mickel
Chairman of the Board

Mike was elected as Chairman of the VABA in August 2016. He founded Dominion Aviation in 1983 as an aircraft management and charter company and is the President and CEO. 


Dominion Aviation Services is located at the Chesterfield County Airport. As a 35 year veteran of corporate aviation, he is dedicated to service and committed to quality with safety at the forefront of every decision.


He is an experienced pilot with over 10,000 hours of flight time, is Airline Transport rated and certified to fly numerous corporate jets and helicopters.

Ron Gatewood
Board Member
Scholarship Committee

Ron Gatewood is the founder and President of SkyWorld Aviation, Inc., a successful General Aviation aircraft management, and maintenance service firm. President of Tracey Corp., an airport development, management and FBO firm. President and founder of Midland Development Corp., a hanger construction firm.

Ron's military career includes 27 years command pilot with extensive flying experience in the United States, Asia and Africa as Naval Aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps. Maintenance Officer of a Marine Jet Squadron in high intensity combat operations. Executive transport pilot for U.S. ambassadors overseas and U.S. Marine Corps General Officer Transportation in the United States.

Honors: Distinguished Flying Cross - 4 Awards, Air Medal - #48 with Gold Star, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal - 2 Awards, Navy Commendation Medal, and Navy Achievement Medal.

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Catie Austin Brown
Board Member
Scholarship Committee

Catie Austin-Brown is a native of Buchanan, Virginia.  She is Vice President at Austin Electrical Construction, Inc. (AEC), a family-owned business founded by her father in 1977.  AEC specializes in airfield lighting installation and maintenance, and the installation, maintenance and inspection of AWOS Systems and Navigational Aids.  The company serves air carrier and general aviation airports in Virginia and throughout the East Coast.


Ms. Austin-Brown graduated from Mary Baldwin University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and an Elementary Education Teaching License.  She taught elementary school in Rockbridge County for seventeen years before assuming a full-time leadership role with AEC. 


Catie resides in Lexington, Virginia with her husband Stuart and their three children.  

Rich Anderson
Board Member
Scholarship Committee

Delegate Richard L. Anderson (Rich) represented the 51st House District in the Virginia General Assembly. In his legislative capacity, Del. Anderson chaired the House Committee on Science and Technology and sat as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, the House General Laws Committee, and the House Transportation Committee.


As chair of the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus, Del. Anderson led General Assembly initiatives that affect 800,000 Virginia veterans and their dependents. He is Chairman of the Virginia War Memorial. He is also a member of the Virginia Board of Veterans Services, the Virginia War Memorial Board of Trustees, the Virginia WW I and WW II Anniversary Commemorative Commission, and the Governor’s Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities.


His non-veteran boards and commissions include chairmanship of the Virginia Commission on Civics Education, chairmanship of the Virginia Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS), member of the Virginia State Crime Commission, member of the Virginia Commission on Youth.


Rich holds a BA degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech and an MA degree in Public Administration from Webster University. He is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, Armed Forces Staff College, and Air War College.


He served a three-year tour as National Commander of the United States Air Force Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol) and is a Life Member of VFW Post 1503, American Legion Post 364, and DAV Chapter 48. He is also a member of the Freedom Museum of Prince William County.

Scott Strimple
Board Member


Scott Strimple is a leading educator and evangelists for small unmanned aircraft operations.  He is a Captain and FAA check pilot for United Airlines and a certified flight instructor with 25000 manned flight hours.  His more than 40 years operating sUA combined with extensive subject matter expertise in flight training provide Scott with an industry leading perspective to the world of unmanned flight. 


His leadership and experience with unmanned aviation have been recognized by his appointment to the Governor of Virginia’s Unmanned Systems Commission.  He is a founding member of Virginia UAS and is an Executive Committee member and task group lead with the ASTM working closely with the FAA to develop standards for the unmanned aviation industry.  


As the director and founder of The Drone Flight School, Scott facilitates industry leading drone training and is frequently seen presenting at industry events, contributing written work and being quoted by numerous media outlets.  He is also an Emmy award winging cinematographer, a member of the Society of Aerial Cinematographers (SOAC) and a senior flight instructor for the Unmanned Vehicle University. 

Jim Hopkins
Board Member


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Jim Hopkins has 35 years of administrative, financial and operational experience in the aviation industry, with Signature Flight Support and its predecessor companies. During his tenure, he has held various roles from flying aircraft, to overseeing the fixed base operation (FBO) network, MRO and Aircraft Management & Charter operations. Jim is a graduate of Virginia Tech, with a major in management science. He is an ATP pilot and has over 5,000 hours of flight time.


His role at Signature Flight Support is Senior Vice President, Airport Relations and Strategic Programs. Jim is responsible for Signature’s relationships with the airports it serves in North America and opening new opportunities for both the airport and the airport’s community.

Todd Yeates
Board Member


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Todd Yeatts is the Government Operations representative for The Boeing Company focusing on four states: Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio. In this position Todd is responsible for program advocacy and awareness campaigns, facilitate Congressional site visits and provide legislative testimony.


He coordinates with major suppliers to provide economic impact data to Congressional district offices and local governments and facilitates third party advocacy on major issues.

Shane Combs
Board Member


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Shane Combs is the Director, NEXTGEN Aviators, Partner Relations and Marketing , at Dynamic Aviation. NextGen is a 3-hour immersive aviation experience that inspires middle schoolers and high schoolers to pursue their dreams.


NextGen introduces young people to technical jobs by providing hands-on exploration of a broad range of aviation careers including aerospace engineering, parts fabrication and assembly, electronics and avionics, and flight.

John Earl
Board Member


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Donna Lawson
Board Member


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George Snyder
Board Member


John Earl is the FBO Manager at AU Aviation Services. At age 17, just after high school, John packed up his Datsun 510 and relocated from Southern California to Kansas City where he went to work for a small aviation company in Olathe, KS. That is when he discovered that being around aircraft and an airport FBO was cool (secret, it still is).


Throughout the ensuing years his career level progressed to the point where he was holding senior level titles in various locations throughout the United States. He has worked and lived in such diverse location such as Boston, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Donna Lawson recently retired from the position as the legislative affairs officer for NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Since 2003, she had been responsible for developing and implementing strategies to communicate the value of NASA and Langley’s programs to federal, state and local government officials. She earned a master’s degree in Technical Communication and Management from Old Dominion University and is a resident of Poquoson, Virginia.


She is deeply committed to building advocacy for NASA and maintaining US leadership in aerospace. She collaborates with industry, academia and community leaders on cooperative efforts to raise awareness of the importance of NASA and the aerospace industry to the future and economic vitality of our Nation.  Read more.

George's dedication and commitment to the aviation industry led him to found GHS Aviation Group in 2004. George's passion for aviation and his desire to use the experiences gained from his top level executive positions at US Airways and Korean Air to make a difference in the global aviation industry has been the foundation upon which the “GHS” culture of respect, responsiveness to clients, and always exceeding a client’s expectations has been built.


Beginning his career with US Airways as a line pilot, George subsequently ascended to senior management positions. He served US Airways from 1994 to 1997 as Director of Flight Safety and Quality Assurance before being promoted to the position of Vice President Corporate Safety & Regulatory Compliance in 1997. Following these successes, George was recruited by Korean Air in January 2000 to head its Corporate Safety, Aviation Security, and Regulatory Compliance Department in Seoul, Republic of Korea.  Read more.

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Tom Walker
Board Member


Tom is the founder and CEO of DroneUp, the leading complete drone services provider, transforming businesses and government organizations with drone technology solutions. DroneUp’s diverse suite of products includes flight services, data analysis, drone program development, regulatory consulting, training, equipment, and drone delivery.

Recognized as a UAS industry pioneer with patented mobile app technology and a commitment to research and development, DroneUp further fuels invention and application across private and public sectors. With our people, services, and innovative solutions, DroneUp delivers on operational challenges with efficiency, reliability, and safety. Read more.


Bud Oakey
Bud Oakey, President
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Craig Whitham,
Vice President
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Lena Cary, Administrative Director