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College of Business

Speaker Series: Bill Ayer

President, Chairman and CEO
Alaska Air Group

"The School of Hard Knocks--Lessons from a Troubled Industry "

Thursday, May 28, 2009 
Noon - 2:00 p.m.

Museum of Flight (Skyline Room) 
Seattle, Washington

Silver Sponsors: 
Alaska Airlines/Horizon
Air Aviation Partners, Inc.
Bruce and Jolene McCaw Foundation

Supporting Sponsor: 
The Boeing Company

Image of Bill Ayer

We mark the establishment of the Milton G. Kuolt, II, annual lecture in Business Leadership. Milt founded Horizon Air and served as President and CEO until Horizon Air was sold to Alaska Air Group in 1987.

The inaugural lecture will be presented by Bill Ayer, Milt's long-time friend and colleague, and business leader in the region. Bill is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Alaska Airlines and Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier, Horizon Air.

At Alaska Airlines, Ayer, 54, leads the nation's ninth-largest airline, with 10,000 employees, 58 destinations and more than 110 aircraft.

A veteran of more than 25 years in aviation, Ayer began his career with Alaska in 1995 as vice president of marketing and planning. Since then, he has held the posts of senior vice president of customer service, marketing and planning; president; and chief operating officer. In 2002, he became the carrier's chief executive officer, and, in May 2003, he was appointed chairman.

Prior to his tenure with Alaska, Ayer spent 13 years at Horizon Air, where he held a variety of marketing and operations positions of increasing responsibility. Immediately prior to joining Alaska, he was Horizon's senior vice president of operations.

Before joining Horizon, Ayer founded and was president of Air Olympia, a commuter airline serving Washington state. He also served as a regional manager for Piper Aircraft Co.

Ayer is a member of the board of directors of the Seattle branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Puget Energy, the Museum of Flight, and Angel Flight West. He also serves on the University of Washington Business School Advisory Board.

A graduate of Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in economics, Ayer also earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Washingto