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June 18, 2022

Executive Compensation at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)

by Anne Paddock

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (4) who advocates on behalf of its members (estimated to be 280,000) to “protect your freedom to fly.”  Based in Frederick, Maryland, AOPA has 12 voting members (trustees), 11 of whom are independent, in its governing body, 11 of whom are male and 1 is a female.

AOPA reported the following key information on the Form 990 (2020):

Revenue totaled $46 million (compared to $50 million in 2019), most of which came from membership dues ($24 million), the AOPA Foundation ($7 million), advertising income ($5 million), cost sharing ($4 million), royalties ($2 million), investment income and gains ($2 million), and education courses and other sources ($2 million).  Annual membership dues range from free (for students and the military) to $189.  Information on the Form 990 indicates average annual membership dues to be $86.

Expenses totaled $46 million, with the largest expenses reported to be compensation ($25 million), fees for services – primarily other with no detail provided ($5 million), printing, mail, magazine, and dues ($5 million), office-related expenses ($4 million), and advertising and promotion ($2 million).

213 employees received $25 million in compensation, which equates to an average compensation of $117,000.  However, only 61 employees received more than $100,000 with the 10 most highly compensated reported to be:

  • $1,628,359:  Mark Baker, CEO and President
  • $  570,138:  James W Coon, SVP, Government Affairs
  • $  455,699:  Justine A Harrison, SVP, General Counsel (from 8/19)
  • $  437,782:  Thomas B Haines, SVP, Media and Outreach
  • $  372,645:  Gregory L Cohen, SVP, Administration
  • $  346,049:  Erica Saccoia, SVP, Finance
  • $  305,582:  Richard G McSpadden, Executive Director, ASI
  • $  287,378:  John D Hamilton, VP, Information Technology
  • $  281,113:  Elizabeth A Tennyson, Executive Director, You Can Fly
  • $  271,740:  Kenneth A Mead, EVP, General Counsel (to 12/19)

The 10 most highly compensated employees received $5 million in compensation, which means the remaining 203 employees received $20 million, which equates to an average of just under $100,000 each.  7 of the 10 most highly compensated employees are male while 3 are female.

Mark Baker was the most highly compensated employee at more than $1.6 million, and more than $1 million higher than the next most highly compensated employee.  In previous years, the Form 990’s report Mr. Baker received the following compensation:

  • $1,517,015 (2019)
  • $1,412,275 (2018)
  • $1,468,517 (2017)
  • $1,212,014 (2016)
  • $  960,461 (2015)
  • $  782,702 (2014)

Since 2014, Mr. Baker’s compensation has more than doubled although revenue has only increased about 15% (from $39 million in 2014 to $46 million in 2020).

AOPA paid for first class or charter travel and travel for companions.  See the Form 990, Schedule J, Part III, Supplemental Information for more details.

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