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Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award

Winners of the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award:

2019: Richard Kennington

Pictured above: Richard Kennington holds the 2019 Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award with Paul Rinaldi, NLC Chairman Steve Weidner, and Trish Gilbert.

National Legislative Committee (NLC) Northwest Mountain Region Representative Richard Kennington (Portland ATCT [PDX] FacRep) was presented with the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award during the general session at NATCA in Washington 2019. The award, established in 2009 and renamed in Gilbert’s honor in 2010, is given each year to an activist who has demonstrated the passion to serve the Union through legislative activism and stepped up to do extraordinary work. Kennington has served on the NLC since 2013.

“There are many impressive activists I know that are considered for this award,” Kennington said as he accepted his award. “I am truly humbled, and honored, and I look forward to working with all of you in the future.” 

Below is a video honoring Kennington.

2018: Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik

Pictured above: Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik holds the 2018 Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award with Paul Rinaldi, NLC Chairman Steve Weidner, and Trish Gilbert.

Santa Barbara ATCT (SBA) member Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik recalls her father, Paul Pesiri, always encouraging her from a young age to be legislatively active. If you want to make a difference, he told her, get active and get involved. “Write your member of Congress,” he added.

“That was the running joke in my home. If I wanted to lobby against cleaning my room, or doing my chores, he would say, “Hey, write your member of Congress,’” Pesiri-Dybvik said. “Now, I spend my time in my adult life writing members of Congress.”

On Monday, May 21, 2018, during the first day of NATCA in Washington, Pesiri-Dybvik was honored for her NATCAvist passion and devotion to the Union and its legislative efforts. She was presented with the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award.

In 2009, NATCA established the National Legislative Activism, to be presented each year at NATCA in Washington. The following year, the award was renamed for one of NATCA’s most effective activists, current Executive Vice President and former National Legislative Committee (NLC) Chair Trish Gilbert.

Pesiri-Dybvik, the Western Pacific Region (NWP) representative on the NLC since 2011, said combining a lifelong love of both aviation and legislative work has driven her to devote her time and energy to her activism. She expressed deep admiration for the NATCA Government Affairs staff and the NLC for the work they have done on Capitol Hill and in home districts.

“I know that no matter what I give back to NATCA, it will never be as much as NATCA gives to me,” she said. “This committee works so hard. They are passionate and dedicated. I love them with all my heart. They are my family. I am so proud to represent the Western Pacific Region.”

Pesiri-Dybvik, in accepting the award, looked out in front of her to her fellow members of the Western Pacific Region, seated in the front left of the room, and it spurred some fond memories of both the event – which she has attended each year since 2009 – and of watching Gilbert up on stage.

“I remember my first NATCA in Washington like it was yesterday,” she said. “I was with my region and there were these round tables and I was looking up at the stage and admiring the work done by the NLC at the time. I remember seeing Trish up there and I was so inspired by the work she was doing. To now receive an award named after her and her dedication to our Union really is a highlight of my career and an honor of a lifetime. I am very grateful for that.”

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, in introducing Pesiri-Dybvik, said he first met her in Oklahoma City at a NATCA Meet and Greet event in 2007. She was an FAA Academy student who was concerned about the White Book and issues like no per diem for Academy students, he said.

“She was very concerned about changing careers and going into an air traffic controller career, and she said it didn’t seem like we were well paid and well respected. There was hostility of management toward us and us toward management,” Rinaldi said. “I told her, ‘Don’t worry. We’re gonna fix it because we have to fix it.’”

A year later, Rinaldi saw Pesiri-Dybvik again at a NWP meeting and this time, he said, she had a positive attitude and was sure she had in fact made the right career move. He invited her to return to Oklahoma City, this time to speak to Academy students.

“I just watched this young activist passionately speak about our passion and our career,” Rinaldi said. “I knew we had a diamond here for sure.

“She is so well-deserving of this award. She has earned the reputation as a NATCA go-to leader.”

Pesiri-Dybvik thanked her family and her fellow NLC members for their love and support.

“This award represents every single one of us in this room,” she said. “It’s Incredible. I cannot wait to hit the Hill with every single one of you and I thank you with all of my heart.”

2017: Noel Kingston

Veteran NATCAvist and Arizona state legislative coordinator Noel Kingston of Prescott Tower (PRC) was honored with the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award at NATCA in Washington (NiW) in May 2017.

“Noel has worked hundreds of hours on campaigns and getting members to volunteer their time,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “He has walked miles around Capitol Hill and spent countless hours in Congressional offices delivering NATCA’s message. He embodies our collective spirit.”

“I’m very proud of the time I’ve spent with all of you,” said Kingston, who will be retiring soon. “But I’m sad because I love the legislative activism.”

2016: Steve Weidner

The 2016 winner was National Legislative Committee (NLC) Chair Steve Weidner. It is common for the NLC chair to introduce NATCA’s highest legislative achievement, but because he happened to be the winner, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi stepped in.

“He has been a mentor and role model to many on the NLC,” said Rinaldi. “Anyone who has met or served with Steve can attest to his dedication and passion.”

“I was privileged to serve on the NLC when Trish Gilbert was the chair,” Weidner said. “I learned how to be a legislative activist by watching her and working with her. I’m honored and humbled to have my name on an award that was named for Trish.”

Weidner began his distinguished career in the Air Force in 1987 as a tower/precision approach radar controller at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. He was hired by the FAA in March 1991 and has been assigned to Minneapolis Center (ZMP) ever since.

He has served as an alternate area rep and was the ZMP legislative rep from 2004-2006. For the past year, he has been the national rep for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and a NATCA rep on the 7110.65 rewrite workgroups.

He was appointed as the NLC Great Lakes rep in 2006, later taking over as NLC chair in September 2009, where he is currently serving his third term. He is also chair of NATCA’s Historical Committee.

“Steve is admired and respected by the committees he leads and serves,” Rinaldi said. “His committee often wonders where he finds the time and energy to do all he does and yet remember the little details like birthdays and important dates.”

Weidner is also a Tim Haines Memorial Award winner. He initiated and built both the basic and advanced legislative classes that have educated and inspired the current and next generation of activists. NATCA in Washington has flourished under his direction and leadership.

2015: Jason Arnold

Southern Region Legislative Representative Jason Arnold (Memphis Center, ZME) was honored with the 2015 Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award at NATCA in Washington (NiW) on May 18, 2015 for his career-long work serving the Union through extraordinary and influential efforts.

The award honors great activism and the tremendous amount of hard work, time, and dedication upon which it is built. The award presentation is an annual tradition at NiW starting in early 2009 when it was called the National Legislative Activism Award. The NLC renamed the award after Gilbert following her election later in 2009 as Executive Vice President. She had previously chaired the NLC and also served as Southwest Region Legislative Representative.

“There are few things that Jason Arnold can’t do,” NLC Chairman Steve Weidner said, citing the creation of the NiW website, an array of online legislative forms and materials, and regular legislative updates as a few examples of his many important contributions. “All of these things need to be done to further our efforts and make us successful legislatively. Jason shows passion, dedication, and above all, an overall commitment to this organization. There is not a member in this Union he would not help to set up a visit or a Congressional tour of a facility.

“No matter the task, Jason anticipates what needs to be done before it is needed.”

“This is very humbling,” Arnold said, recalling watching the NFL awards ceremony a few months ago as Arizona Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians accepted the coach of the year award. “He said this was not an award for him, he just coached the team. I would not be up here today if not for all of you who inspire me on a daily basis. Back home, the controllers are working the boards so I can be here today. Over there on the table is Jim Davoli (also of ZME). I would not be here if not for him.”

Arnold also thanked his brothers and sisters from the Southern Region and the entire NLC.

“I have never been closer to a group of individuals in this organization than this Legislative Committee.”

In closing, Arnold thanked his wife, Paula, for “putting up with my work at all hours of the day.”

2014: Toby Hauck

Chicago Center (ZAU) Facility Representative and veteran NATCAvist Toby Hauck, whose relentless dedication to forging successful relationships with members of Congress and their staffs with his friendly, plain-spoken, highly personable style, was saluted on Monday, May 19, 2014 at NATCA in Washington (NiW) with the Union’s highest legislative honor – the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award.

“I’m humbled,” Hauck said. “I’m with my family. To accept an award like this in front of my family members is pretty moving. I am not often speechless but you got me here.” Hauck then shared with his fellow NATCAvists, particularly the many first-timers at this year’s event, some advice that he says has proven valuable for his relationship-building. “My advice is go in and be you,” he said. “Give them a firm handshake. When you leave, say thank you. Then follow up. If you don’t know the answer, say you will get back to them.”

2013: Mitch Herrick

NATCA was proud to present the 2013 Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award to Mitch Herrick (MIA).

Said Herrick: “It is great to be recognized by NATCA activists and I am honored to have done work that they have deemed worthy of recognition. It means a lot. I am motivated by the exceptional leadership we have in this union. They push me to do better. If I do better and they recognize it, that is great.”

Added NATCA Legislative Committee Chair Steve Weidner: “Relationships are the reason we do what we do as activists and why we are so successful as an organization. And nobody does that better than Mitch Herrick.”

2012: Betsy Beaumont and AnnMarie Sullivan

In 2012, Betsy Beaumont (ZFW) and AnnMarie Sullivan (CLT) were each presented with the award for their activism and contributions to NATCA’s legislative efforts.

That year, President Paul Rinaldi challenged NATCA to improve the political education and activism program, so Weidner asked Beaumont and Sullivan to organize member-to-member outreach. They did just that by traveling across the country to visit many facilities and led countless NATCA events to ensure the success of the program.

2011: Brody McCray

Each year, the National Legislative Committee (NLC) recognizes members for their outstanding service and dedication to NATCA’s legislative efforts. One member who has gone above and beyond for the Union is awarded with the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award.

In 2011, Brody McCray (ZDC) was awarded for his work on the midterm elections. In the 30 days prior to the election, he campaigned tirelessly every single day.

2010: Mark Griffin

Each year, the National Legislative Committee (NLC) recognizes members for their outstanding service and dedication to NATCA’s legislative efforts. One member who has gone above and beyond for the Union is awarded with the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award.

Mark Griffin (Boise TRACON) was the first recipient of the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award in 2010. Griffin spearheaded a five-year battle against FAA plans to move the services of Boise TRACON. He worked with elected officials on every level to ensure a successful outcome. In large part because of his efforts, the TRACON’s services were not moved.

2010: Trish Gilbert

In 2009, NATCA established the National Legislative Activism Award to be presented at NATCA in Washington (NiW). The following year, at her first NiW as Executive Vice President (EVP), the award was named for Gilbert, one of NATCA’s most effective activists in its history. Gilbert set the standard and defined what it means to be a legislative activist in the Union.

In 2001, Gilbert became the Southwest Region Representative on the National Legislative Committee (NLC). In 2005, she earned the position of NLC Chair, which she held until becoming NATCA’s EVP in 2009. The award was named after Trish because of her incredible work ethic, her drive to take NATCA from “good” to “great,” and the inspiration she has been to others.

The award is given each year to an activist who has demonstrated the passion to serve the Union through legislative activism and stepped up to do extraordinary work.

2009: Linda Miller

In 2009, Miller was presented with the National Legislative Activism Award before it was re-named for Trish Gilbert the following year.