2014 Gala Host Committee Biographies

Mark Wolper
President & Executive Producer of The Wolper Organization
Chair of Endeavor Awards Gala Host Committee

The Wolper Organization has been responsible for over 500 films that have won more than 150 awards, including Oscars, 50 Emmys, seven Golden Globes, five Peabodys, and recognition and retrospectives from Cannes and other respected international film festivals. The Wolper Organization is perhaps best known for creating the TV miniseries. Mark is the chair of the Endeavor Awards Gala Organizing Committee.

Chuck Aaron
Red Bull Aerobatic Helicopter Pilot
Chuck ‘Malibu’ Aaron received the 2014 Helicopter Pilot of the Year Award from the Helicopter Association International. Chuck is the first civilian pilot licensed to perform helicopter aerobatics in the U.S., and the first helicopter pilot to be presented with the Art Scholl Showmanship Award, an honor recognizing the world’s most outstanding air show performers. In 2011, Chuck was inducted to the prestigious Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and in 2013, he was recognized as a Living Legend of Aviation. Chuck spends most of his time piloting the one-of-a-kind Red Bull Helicopter through breathtaking air show choreography including backflips, 360-degree rolls and a heart-stopping tumble called the Chuckcilvak. He has logged more than 20,000 hours in the air and performed aerobatics at more than 175 air shows!

Edward Asner
Actor & Winner of Seven Emmy Awards
One of the most honored actors in the history of television, Edward Asner has received seven Emmy Awards and 16 nominations, as well as five Golden Globe Awards. He served as National President of the Screen Actors Guild for two terms and was inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 1996. Asner received the Ralph Morgan Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2000, presented periodically for distinguished service to the Guild’s Hollywood membership. In March 2002, he was again honored by The Guild as the 38th recipient of the prestigious Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment, presented annually to an actor who fosters the highest ideals of the profession.

William S. Ayer
Retired Chairman and CEO, Alaska Air Group
Bill is a veteran of more than three decades in aviation. He began his career with Horizon Air in 1982 and joined Alaska Airlines in 1995. After serving in a variety of marketing, planning and operational roles, he became CEO in 2002 and Chairman in 2003. Bill recently retired after 31 years at the company. He currently serves on the University of Washington Board of Regents, the boards of Puget Sound Energy and the Museum of Flight, the NextGen Advisory Committee and FAA’s Management Advisory Council. He has been a long-time pilot and board member for Angel Flight West.

Dr. Peter Diamandis
Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE
XPRIZE leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Best known for the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private spaceflight and the $10 million Progressive Automotive XPRIZE for 100 mile-per-gallon equivalent cars, XPRIZE is now launching prizes in Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy, and Education. Peter founded and ran many of the leading entrepreneurial companies in the commercial space sector including Zero Gravity Corporation, the Rocket Racing League and Space Adventures. He attended MIT where he received his degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering, as well as Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D.

Alan Dias
AFW Executive Director & AFW Command Pilot since 1995
Alan has served on the Angel Flight West Board of Directors, as a Wing Leader and for the last five years as Executive Director, supervising all operations and outreach in 13 Western States, including Hawaii and Alaska. During his tenure the organization has grown from a total of 36,000 flights to 57,000 flights. Prior to becoming Executive Director his career included working as a Human Resource Executive, business owner and consultant. Alan lives in La Cañada, CA with his wife Jennie.

David T. Feinberg, MD, MBA
President of UCLA Health Systems
Dr. Feinberg was appointed President of UCLA Health System in 2011. In addition to his role as President, he has been CEO and Associate Vice Chancellor since 2007, after having served as Medical Director of the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital and head of the NPH Faculty Practice Group. Dr. Feinberg also is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry on the faculty of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Tom Gallagher
Member, Angel Flight West Board of Directors; Chair, Development and Advisory Committee
Tom is a trustee of the UNLV Foundation and the DRI Foundation and chairs the board of the Black Mountain Institute. Formerly Tom was President and CEO of Caesars Entertainment and of the Merv Griffin Group, an Executive Vice President of Hilton Hotels Corp. and a partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Michael Herman
Founder and Chairman, North American Communications
Mike founded North American Communications and built it into an international provider of direct mail services to Fortune 100 customers. Mike has used aviation to reach and serve his customers since acquiring a Lear 23 in 1965. He has accumulated over 18,000 flight hours in the multi-engine and turbojet aircraft he has owned and operated. He is the founder of Bear Air LLC, an owner and operator of jet aircraft. Mike is a board member of NBAA, Citation Jet Pilots and the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Bob Hoover
World War II Hero, Test Pilot & Air Show Performer
Aviation icon and World War II hero R.A. “Bob” Hoover is considered by his peers to be the “pilot’s pilot”. He has served his country in war and peace as a fighter pilot, test pilot and as a master of aerobatics. His famous yellow P-51 Mustang has been one of the main attractions at the Reno National Air Races for many years. His demonstrations in the Shrike Commander performing his energy management maneuvers with both engines shut down is nothing short of spectacular. Pilots and aviation buffs travel far and wide to see him fly. Accolades hail from America’s leading flight personalities including Chuck Yeager, who calls Hoover the best pilot flying today. General Jimmy Doolittle acknowledged the pre-eminence of this aviator.

John and Martha King
Co-chairmen and Co-owners of King Schools, Inc.
John and Martha King’s use of technology and clear, simple,and fun teaching have made aviation knowledge more accessible to hundreds of thousands of pilots and maintenance technicians. Over more than 38 years, King Schools has delivered many millions of videotapes, CD-ROMs, DVDs and web-based training courses to pilots in training. The Kings have revolutionized the flight training industry and have received many prestigious awards. They are the only husband and wife to both hold every category and class of FAA pilot and instructor certificates. They have flown as pilots in every continent of the world except Antarctica, including a trip completely around the world via the length of Russia.

Clay Lacy
Founder/CEO of Clay Lacy Aviation
With more flying hours in jets than anyone on earth, Clay is one of the world’s most respected and accomplished pilots. Over the past six decades, he has flown more than 300 aircraft types, established twenty-nine world speed records, performed over 2,000 aerial photography missions and logged more than 50,000 flight hours. At age 12 in Wichita, Kansas, Clay piloted his first aircraft by trading work time for flying time at a local airport. His professional career includes serving as an airline captain, military aviator, experimental test pilot, air race champion, aviation record-setter and aerial cinematographer.

Benjamin Marcus
Co-Founder & Partner of jetAVIVA & Aerospace Capital
In 2006, Ben co-founded jetAVIVA, which is now the world’s largest light jet sales, training, and technical services company. Prior to founding jetAVIVA, Ben gained experience in aircraft sales and flight test with Eclipse Aviation. Ben is rated to fly gliders, helicopters, seaplanes, several single-pilot certified jets, and the Boeing 747. Ben took his first flying lesson at age 10 and has been a member of Angel Flight West for 18 years. He started volunteering in the AFW offices at age 13 and now serves on its Board of Directors.

Rol Murrow
Chair and Co-Founder, Air Care Alliance; Executive Director, Wolf Aviation Fund
Rol has led the Air Care Alliance to become the umbrella group for the more than sixty public benefit flying groups whose volunteer pilots fly patients for care, provide disaster relief, support environmental causes, transport veterans to facilities nationwide, give introductory flights to youth, relocate animals to new homes or wild habitats, and serve in many other ways. As Executive Director of the Wolf Aviation Fund, Rol works with hundreds of aviation associations, nonprofit groups, and agencies, large and small, providing counsel and support. He was the first Director of the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica and is a leader of the National Coalition for Aviation and Space Education.

Scott Parazynski
5-time Shuttle Astronaut and Spacewalker; Chairman, Challenger Center for Space Science Education
In Scott’s 17 years as an Astronaut, he flew 5 Space Shuttle Missions and conducted 7 spacewalks. He has spent over 8 weeks in space with more than 47 hours outside on spacewalks. Scott is a commercial, instrument, multiengine and seaplane-rated pilot with over 2,500 flight hours. In addition, Scott is an accomplished mountaineer and has climbed in the Alaska Range, the Cascades, the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes and the Himalayas. On his second attempt to scale Mt. Everest, on May 20, 2009, he became the first astronaut to stand on top of the world. A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Medical School, Scott went on to train at Harvard and in Denver in preparation for a career in emergency medicine and trauma.

John L. Plueger
President and Chief Operating Officer of Air Lease Corporation
John Plueger is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Air Lease Corporation and a Member of the Board of Directors. He has more than 26 years of aviation industry and aircraft leasing experience, 23 of which were with International Lease Finance Corporation, where he served on its Board of Directors as President and Chief Operating Officer and then Chief Executive Officer prior to joining Air Lease Corporation in 2010. John is an active jet pilot, holding a U.S. FAA Airline Transport Pilot license, with multiple jet type ratings, as well as single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument instructor ratings. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and is a Certified Director from the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management Corporate Director Certification Program. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, the Wings Club in New York, and was a founding member of Angel Flight West.

Tom Poberezny
Chairman Emeritus of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
Tom was President of EAA for over 20 years and served as Chairman of the annual EAA Convention (AirVenture Oshkosh) from 1977 to 2011, creating the vision and direction for what has become the aviation world’s premier event. In 1992, he led the development of the EAA’s Young Eagles Program, which has become the most significant youth outreach program in aviation history. Over 1.6 million young people have participated in the program. An accomplished aerobatic pilot, he won the US National Unlimited Aerobatic Championship in 1973 and flew with the highly acclaimed Eagles Aerobatic Team for 25 years. He is widely considered an expert in the field of aviation and was inducted into the Aerobatic Hall of Fame in 1996. He currently serves on the Garmin Board of Directors.

Sean Tucker
Renowned Oracle Team Airshow Performer and Pilot; Honorary Chair of Young Eagles
Sean is the U.S. National Advanced Aerobatic Champion, winner of numerous showmanship awards, inductee in the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Aviation Air and Space Hall of Fame, and an honorary Thunderbird, Blue Angel, and Golden Knight – to name a few. In August 2013 he was named Honorary Chairman of Young Eagles at the Gathering of Eagles at AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. “I love sharing the magic of flight. Once a person leaves the ground, it changes their perspective. It’s something they never forget. Whether or not they become a pilot, they have seen the world from angel’s eyes. It changes them profoundly. It’s uplifting, inspiring, empowering.”

Robert Zemeckis
Award Winning Film Producer and Director
Robert Zemeckis has won numerous awards for films he has directed and produced. He won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Director’s Guild of American Award for Best Director for Forrest Gump. He shared Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Screen play for Back to the Future, the top-grossing release of 1985. He directed and produced Contact and Death Becomes Her, wrote and directed the box office smash Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and directed Romancing the Stone. For the small screen, Zemeckis directed the Showtime feature-length documentary The Pursuit of Happiness. Additional television credits include episodes of Spielberg’s Amazing Stores and HBO’s Tales From the Crypt. In March 2001, the USC School of Cinema-Television opened the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke partnered to form the film and television production company ImageMovers. What Lies Beneath was the first film to be released under the ImageMovers banner, followed by Cast Away and Matchstick Men. The second motion capture film produced and directed by Robert Zemeckis was Beowulf. In November of 2009, Zemeckis released his most advanced motion-capture film to date: A Christmas Carol. In 2012, Zemeckis returned to live action direction with the critically-acclaimed Flight, for Paramount Pictures starring Denzel Washington. Under the direction of Zemeckis, Washington received an Oscar nomination for the role.

Scroll to Top