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Date: Feature Week of March 13, 2005
Topic: Black Press Business/Economic
Author: William Reed
Article ID: article_ema031305



For the first time in history, two African American are in the top seats of the nation’s aeronautical industry. 

Interim leaders for the moment, both are history-makers nonetheless. James Bell is top gun at the world's leading aerospace company.  Bell was named interim president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company in March 2005 and continues to serve as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  As president and CEO, Bell, who is 56, oversees Boeing’s strategic direction, sets operational and financial performance targets, directs capital expenditures and approves all key personnel assignments.  A 32-year company veteran, Bell has extensive experience overseeing business performance and growth at the $52 billion, 157,000-person commercial airplane and defense company.  Prior to being named CFO in 2003, Bell held the position of senior vice president of finance and corporate controller.  As a member of the Joint Leadership Council, a Boeing initiative with senior DoD and NASA acquisition executive membership, Bell helped advance that government-industry partnership.

Founded in 1916, Boeing sits atop the aerospace industry.  While at the helm of Boeing, James Bell’s directions have impact on the lives of almost every American.  Each day, more than three million passenger board 42,300 flights on Boeing jetliners, more than 345 satellites put into orbit by Boeing launch vehicles pass over our heads and 6,000 Boeing-made aircraft stand guard for air forces of 23 countries.

Boeing is the United States’ largest exporter. The company is the largest manufacturer of satellites, commercial jetliners and military aircraft.  It’s also a global market leader in missile defense, human space flight and launch services.  It has more than 11,000 commercial jetliners in service worldwide - including its 737, 747, 757 and 767 fleets.  Boeing is a world leader in development and production of military and defense products and programs.   And it has led the world in human space flight, building the Apollo vehicles and the Space Shuttle fleet. 

The other high-flyer is Frederick D. Gregory, who has been Acting Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) since February 2005.   NASA is a $15 billion-a-year operation that has 19,050 employees and 10 centers spread around the nation.  NASA’S major assets include 40 operational spacecraft, one Space Station orbital laboratory and four Space Shuttle orbiters.

Mr. Gregory leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance The US Vision for Space Exploration.  Since being nominated by President Bush as Deputy Administrator in 2002, the 54-year-old Gregory has been the Agency’s chief operating officer, responsible for directing and managing many programs as well as day-to-day operations and activities.  Mr. Gregory has extensive experience as an astronaut, test pilot, and manager of flight safety programs and launch support operations. He was selected as an astronaut in January 1978 and has logged 455 hours in space: as pilot for the Orbiter Challenger in 1985, spacecraft commander aboard Discovery in 1989 and as spacecraft commander aboard Atlantis in 1991.

Gregory retired as an Air Force Colonel in December 1993 after logging 7,000 hours in more than 50 types of aircraft.  Throughout his career, Gregory has remained involved in the black community and its issues.  Mr. Gregory is a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and received awards from the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and the National Society of Black Engineers Distinguished National Scientist Award.  He has numerous Honorary Doctorates, including from The University of the District of Columbia and Southwestern University.  And, in 2004 and 2005, he was designated one of the 50 Most Important Blacks in Technology.


© 2000-2004 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com


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