Business Aviation Pioneer Janice K. Barden Dies

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Janice K. Barden, the chairman and founder of Aviation Personnel International (API), died on July 31. Janice founded API firm 45 years ago, which is now the longest-running, woman-owned aviation recruiting firm to exclusively serve the staffing needs of business aviation.

API Founder Janice K. Barden

API Founder Janice K. Barden

Janice K. Barden never stopped talking about this wonderful industry, and the pride she had in it, literally until the day she died. - Sheryl Barden, CEO, Aviation Personnel International

Sheryl Barden, President and CEO of Aviation Personnel International (API), today announced the passing of the company’s chairman and founder, Janice K. Barden, who started the business aviation recruiting firm 45 years ago. Throughout her exceptional career, Janice Barden was regarded as a trendsetter and pioneer, helping pave the way for thousands of men and women who, like her, nurtured a love of aviation and its related disciplines.

“Janice enjoyed two wonderful husbands, an awesome grandson, a loving family and a never ending cadre of friends,” said daughter Sheryl Barden, CEO and President, Aviation Personnel International. “She had an amazing career that helped so many people progress in their chosen careers, a beautiful 10 years of life with Chuck McKinnon in the Napa Valley, and a full life in New Orleans, New Jersey and Ohio. She also had countless recognition for her work in business aviation, and she never stopped talking about this wonderful industry, and the pride she had in it, literally until the day she died.”

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Barden left home at age 17 to pursue her undergraduate studies at Miami University in the college of business administration, and later earned her degree in Industrial Psychology from Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.

Barden contributed to the aviation community for more than 60 years. In 1971, she leveraged her 16 years as a professional aviation psychologist to found her own recruitment firm, Aviation Personnel International (API). Using her skills in psychological testing, Barden developed the company’s proprietary candidate testing program, which has since evolved throughout the years, and remains a company staple 45 years later.

Under Barden’s leadership, API’s professional and technical standards helped to raise the bar immeasurably for quality and performance in aviation, placing thousands of high-achieving professionals in a wide array of positions in the field.

A summary of Barden’s awards, accolades and honors throughout her career would itself fill a book, but following are some of the more notable ones:

  • Inducted in the Ohio Senior Citizen Hall of Fame in 2015.
  • Recognized as an aviation industry “Game Changer” at the 2015 NBAA Leadership Conference in 2015.
  • One of five recipients of the National Aeronautical Association's Wesley L. McDonald Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Award in 2013.
  • Namesake for the UAA Janice K. Barden Aviation Scholarship, through which the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annually awards $1,000 to each of five undergraduates studying aviation-related curricula at NBAA and University Aviation Association (UAA) member institutions.
  • Recipient of the NBAA John P. “Jack” Doswell Award in 1994, given to those with a lifelong individual achievement on behalf and in support of the aims, goals and objectives of business aviation.
  • Recipient of the NBAA American Spirit Award in 2000, given in recognition of an individual within business aviation who exemplifies the courage, pursuit of excellence and service to others that characterize men and women who have created and nurtured the American aviation community.
  • Served eight times as NBAA Local Committee Chairwoman, more than any other person in NBAA history, and the only woman to serve as its chair.
  • Appointed by President George H. W. Bush to a Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel in 1992, to research the training options to address the Pilot and Aviation Maintenance Technician shortage. Also appointed to the President’s Committee for the rehabilitation of returning Vietnam prisoner of war (POW) pilots.
  • Envisioned an outreach program for aviation students, and, in 1990, created the annual NBAA Careers in Business Aviation Day.
  • Served on Kent State’s Alumni Board from 1978-84, and also held the position of its secretary.
  • Received the Kent State Distinguished Alumni Award in 1986, which honors alumni who, through their leadership, character and hard work, have made exceptional contributions in their chosen field, as well as in their communities and at Kent State.
  • Served as a Director, History of Aviation Collection, for the University of Texas/Dallas since its inception.
  • Named as a “Star Performer” by Professional Pilot magazine.
  • Served as the Federal Jury Commissioner Eastern District of Louisiana from 1965 to 2007.
  • Listed in “Who’s Who of American Women,” “Who’s Who in Aviation” and “Who’s Who in the South.”

In addition to these many accomplishments, and working on behalf of the aviation industry, Janice Barden also served on numerous boards of directors, commissions and organizations. Among them, she was a member of the National Business Aviation Association and Flight Safety Foundation.

“Jan Barden was a remarkable figure, and a tireless supporter of NBAA and the business aviation community,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “I’m not sure our industry has ever seen a person who has given more time to promoting and serving its interests—she was extraordinary at helping people to connect people to each other, and build a sense of community.”

About Aviation Personnel International

Now celebrating 45 years in aviation, Aviation Personnel International (API) is the longest-running, woman-owned business aviation recruitment firm, exclusively serving the hiring needs of flight departments in corporate and private aviation. API offers its clients the broadest portfolio of fully vetted candidates, including senior aviation leaders, pilots, maintenance, cabin safety crew, schedulers and dispatchers. Based in San Francisco, the API team combines their extensive aviation knowledge with their expertise in human resources and executive aviation recruitment to provide retained talent identification, staff development and outplacement services for flight departments with one or more aircraft.

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