Southwest Region's Col. Mark Smith Named Next CAP National Commander/CEO
Will Take Command on Sept. 2 at 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.”
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in STEM/aerospace education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com for more information.