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Dale Wright Award for Distinguished, Professional and Exceptional Career Service to NATCA and the National Airspace System

Winners of The Dale Wright Award for Distinguished, Professional and Exceptional Career Service to NATCA and the National Airspace System:

2021: Steve Hartsoe
Central Regional Vice President Aaron Merrick (left) presents Steve Hartsoe with his award.

On July 20, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert were honored to virtually join an award presentation at the joint regional meetings for the Central Region (NCE), New England Region, and Region X in Kansas City. NCE Regional Vice President Aaron Merrick presented Steve Hartsoe with the Dale Wright Award for Distinguished, Professional, and Exceptional Career Service to NATCA and the National Airspace System.

NATCA first presented the award to Wright at our 14th Biennial Convention in Denver in 2012. Wright was NATCA’s former director of safety and technology. The award honors an extraordinary, positive impact made on our ability to call the U.S. National Airspace System the world’s safest. It symbolizes a career devoted to service to NATCA and safety. View the previous winners here.

Hartsoe started his Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) career in 2000 at Cedar Rapids ATCT (CID), where he served as FacRep for a brief time. He moved to St. Louis TRACON (T75) in March 2003 and worked there for the remainder of his career before retiring at the end of 2019. Hartsoe was in the Air National Guard when he got hired by the FAA. Hartsoe’s best friend, retired T75 member Chad Wilson, was in the Guard with him and was already a controller with the FAA. Wilson always talked about NATCA when the two men were together. So when Hartsoe got hired, he said there was no doubt he wanted to be a part of an organization that Wilson spoke of so highly.

Hartsoe was a part of the National Drug and Alcohol Team and was a national finance rep for the Central Region. He was part of national training teams, teaching for the NATCA Academy on drug and alcohol issues. He also worked on the National Collaboration Team; took part in the Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement Team; and was a regional drug and alcohol lead, a regional Training Review Board (TRB) lead, a local Professional Standards rep, and was a local secretary and treasurer for four years.

It is in the area of training where Hartsoe really made a difference for NATCA. With his passion for training, Hartsoe worked tirelessly on getting the NATCA/FAA TRB course developed and played an integral role as the lead cadre instructor for NATCA in the initial rollout of the course. Hartsoe wrote a lot of the TRB’s standard operating procedures. He had previously written training plans for the Air Force bases at which he was stationed. National Training Representative Jamaal Haltom said he recognized Hartsoe’s willingness to work and his desire to share information. Hartsoe’s knowledge and way with people always stood out even amongst other outstanding subject matter experts, and because of that, he was instrumental in making the TRB course the success that it is.

Those who know Hartsoe best say he is very thorough and very fair and has always been committed to ensuring that people are successful. He is easy to talk with, has a pleasant demeanor, and was a good ambassador for NATCA and liaison between controllers and the Agency.

Congratulations, Steve, for this well deserved honor. And thank you for your service to our great Union.

2019: Tom Adcock
(From left to right) President Paul Rinaldi, Tom Adcock, and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert.

Tom Adcock was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety in Las Vegas on Sept. 17, 2019.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2019: Julio Henriques
(From left to right) President Paul Rinaldi, Julio Henriques, and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert.

Julio Henriques was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety in Las Vegas on Sept. 17, 2019.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2019: Garth Koleszar
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Julio Henriques, President Paul Rinaldi.

Garth Koleszar was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety in Las Vegas on Sept. 17, 2019.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2019: Andy Marosvari
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Andy Marosvari, and President Paul Rinaldi.

Andy Marosvari was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety in Las Vegas on Sept. 17, 2019.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2018: Jeff Richards
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Jeff Richards, and President Paul Rinaldi.

On April 20, 2018, at NATCA’s 17th Biennial Convention in Philadelphia, the Dale Wright Award was presented to Jeff Richards.

This dedicated NATCA leader has demonstrated what is truly remarkable about the NATCA family: The willingness to take on added responsibilities to help the Union. Whatever NATCA has asked of him, his response has always been the same: “What do you need me to do?”

Right before the Convention began, Richards marked the 27th anniversary of the day he joined NATCA. He has spent his entire career at Chicago Center. He has served as Great Lakes Alternate Regional Vice President for the last 12 years. He served as FacRep at Chicago Center from 2006 to 2012. He also has been on the National Grievance Review Team since 2009.

Richards was an original member of the Professional Standards Committee, which was established in 2011. He served on that committee with great distinction and success through last year. One of his most valuable contributions to the Union in the era of collaboration and increased emphasis on professional standards was his participation and leadership in the fatigue workgroup that NATCA and the FAA put together and involved NASA as well back in 2011. The result was a landmark fatigue MOU that has helped our members and made the system safer. He has briefed the NTSB, among many other key audiences, and been a leader on this topic from the outset.

Richards is also NATCA’s co-lead rep for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. His work is helping us to work with the FAA and industry to facilitate the safe integration of UAS into the NAS. He has also served NATCA in the role of teaching and training our next leaders. He is a NATCA Academy instructor in our RT-1 class for FacReps.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2017: Steve Abraham
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Steve Abraham, and President Paul Rinaldi.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi presented the Dale Wright Award to Steve Abraham on March 21, 2017 at Communicating For Safety. Rinaldi described the award, which closed out the annual awards luncheon at Communicating for Safety, as the granddaddy of NATCA’s awards.

Named for NATCA’s former Director of Safety and Technology, the Dale Wright Award honors an extraordinary, positive impact made on our ability to call the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) the world’s safest. This award symbolizes a career devoted to service to NATCA and safety.

Abraham is a 26-year veteran NATCA member who began at Teterboro Tower, working there from 1990-1994. He then moved over to John F. Kennedy ATCT (JFK). He served as Vice President from 1999-2008 and has served as FacRep since 2008.

“Being the FacRep at JFK is like no other place in the world because no two days are ever the same,” Rinaldi quoted Abraham as saying on several occasions.

Rinaldi described him as one of NATCA’s go-to guys for air safety investigation since joining the committee in 2010.

Rinaldi also said Abraham’s attention to JFK’s place in the national spotlight is exceptional.

“He lets his members know the New York media pays attention to aviation,” Rinaldi said.

While Abraham says JFK may not be the biggest or busiest, whatever happens will always play out on national news. But for Abraham, that doesn’t worry him.

“I have a great local,” Abraham says. “They work hard, play hard, and are 100 percent NATCA.”

Rinaldi added that his calm approach to issues is invaluable when put on national projects or working with individual facilities. He said that NATCA often calls upon him when they need help in the New York area and that Abraham always answers that call.

“It’s really heavy,” Abraham joked upon receiving the award.

“I’ve got to thank a bunch of people,” he said. “Needless to say Paul and Trish. I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to be led three great RVPs (Regional Vice Presidents) Joe Fruscella, Phil Barbarello, and Dean Iacopelli. I also have to thank my facility,” he said, joking that his members are happier when he’s gone than when he’s there.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2016: Mike Matherne

Mike Matherne was presented with the award at the 16th Biennial Convention in San Diego in 2016.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2016: Kelvin Hale
Kelvin Hale with Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert and President Paul Rinaldi.

Kelvin Hale was presented with the award at the 16th Biennial Convention in San Diego in 2016.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2014: Don Chapman
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Steve Abraham, and President Paul Rinaldi.

Steve Abraham was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety 2017.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2014: Tim Leonard
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Steve Abraham, and President Paul Rinaldi.

Steve Abraham was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety 2017.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2014: Tom Morin
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Steve Abraham, and President Paul Rinaldi.

Steve Abraham was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety 2017.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2013: Ricky Thompson
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Steve Abraham, and President Paul Rinaldi.

Steve Abraham was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety 2017.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2012: Mike Hull
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Mike Hull, and President Paul Rinaldi.

Steve Abraham was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety 2017.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

2012: Dale Wright
(From left to right) Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Dale Wright, and President Paul Rinaldi.

Steve Abraham was presented with the award at Communicating For Safety 2017.

BELOW: Watch the award presentation.

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