New Top Senior Leader Will Assume Command at 2017 National Conference in San Antonio
Col. Mark Smith has been selected as Civil Air Patrol’s next chief executive officer and national commander by the organization’s Board of Governors.
A change of command ceremony with Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, current CEO/national commander, will be held during CAP’s National Conference in San Antonio on Sept. 2.
Smith, Civil Air Patrol’s Southwest Region commander, will serve as the organization’s top senior leader for the next three years. As CAP’s 24th CEO/national commander, Smith will lead CAP’s 57,000 members across the U.S. in fulfilling the organization’s three congressionally chartered missions — emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education.
“Col. Smith has the right blend of leadership skills, qualifications and experience to lead Civil Air Patrol into the future,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Judy Fedder, chair of CAP’s Board of Governors. “The members of the Board of Governors look forward to working with Col. Smith to continuously improve the organization in support of the outstanding service our members provide to their communities, states and nation.”
Smith has excelled in Civil Air Patrol as a commander at the squadron, wing and region levels. He has completed all five levels of the CAP professional development (PD) program. He earned PD master ratings in command and safety as well as a senior rating in aerospace education. He has also earned an executive rating in CAP’s Organizational Excellence program.
He also heads up CAP’s Leadership Development Working Group, which is a national-level team that has developed products, tools and courses to better equip CAP’s leaders at all levels for success. The group recently released a highly acclaimed Unit Commander’s Course.
“Col Smith represents the best of the executive volunteer leaders in Civil Air Patrol today,” said Vazquez. “His leadership of Southwest Region, as well as work on a new generation of squadron and wing commander training, greatly benefits all CAP members. He is a great choice to succeed me, and I look forward to working with him to achieve a smooth transition.”
In addition to his experience in CAP, Smith has 43 years of leadership experience in the Air Force, industry and other nonprofit volunteer organizations. His background includes experience with strategic planning, leading change, positively influencing organizational culture and motivating units to achieve higher levels of performance. He is also passionate about servant leadership and helping organizational members achieve their full potential.
Smith has a doctorate in education in ethical leadership from Olivet Nazarene University, a master’s of aviation management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a bachelor’s in international affairs from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is a graduate of the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.
“The selection process for national commander was revised five years ago to reflect the needs of the organization,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Marné Peterson, chair of the Board of Governors’ personnel committee. “The board is excited to announce Col. Smith’s selection as the next national commander/CEO and we are confident he will serve the organization and its members extremely well in the coming years.”
After being notified of his selection, Smith said, “I am excited to be given the opportunity to serve as Civil Air Patrol’s next CEO and national commander. I look forward to partnering with our phenomenal volunteers and staff to take our organization to even greater levels of excellence in service to community, state and nation.”
Since Civil Air Patrol’s formation during the earliest days of World War II, this vigilant organization of citizen Airmen has been committed to service to America. Founded on Dec. 1, 1941, as a way to protect the nation’s shorelines from invading German U-boats, CAP has evolved into a premier public service organization that still carries out emergency service missions when needed — in the air and on the ground.
As a Total Force partner and Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol is there to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe. Its 56,000 members selflessly devote their time, energy and expertise toward the well-being of their communities, while also promoting aviation and related fields through aerospace/STEM education and helping shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet program.
Civil Air Patrol’s missions for America are many, and today’s adults and cadets perform their duties with the same vigilance as its founding members — preserving CAP’s 75-year legacy of service while maintaining its commitment to nearly 1,500 communities nationwide.
Supporting America's communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space and cyber power.