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New ARRL CEO Comes Aboard Facing Challenges and Change


ARRL’s new Chief Executive Officer Barry Shelley, N1VXY, moved one floor down at ARRL Headquarters earlier this year to assume leadership of the organization with an overarching goal of promoting the League’s mission, “To advance the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.” Shelley has spent much of his tenure at ARRL Headquarters toiling out of the limelight, so he’s a bit of an unknown quantity within the greater Amateur Radio community. But, he brings to his new position nearly 3 decades of experience as ARRL’s Chief Financial Officer. Shelley intends to leverage that background in his role as CEO, enabling him to hit the ground running.

“I am familiar with the issues that matter to ARRL members and the Amateur Radio community at large,” Shelley pointed out in his inaugural “Second Century” editorial “Advancing Amateur Radio, Together,” in the April issue of QST.

He acknowledged that with both ARRL and Amateur Radio undergoing “a great deal of change,” not all League members will necessarily be on the same page, but he believes disagreement about the way forward “can be healthy, and bring new perspectives to light.” At the same time, he encouraged individuals to “remain respectful and constructive” in discussing issues about which they may not agree.

“In my opinion, fulfilling ARRL’s mission means doing so for all Amateur Radio operators, regardless of their license class, level of technical ability, or particular interests within the wide range of activities that Amateur Radio has to offer,” Shelley allowed. Increasing the number of younger radio amateurs will benefit both the avocation and ARRL, he said. And despite any generational rift — perceived or otherwise — between older and younger hams, “There’s more to enjoy than ever before — Amateur Radio in 2018 looks and sounds different than it did in 1968 or even in 1988 — and licensing numbers indicate that people are still interested in exploring Amateur Radio.”

Blazing the trail for Amateur Radio’s future should involve all hams, Shelley believes, noting that for more than a year, a team at ARRL Headquarters has been looking into how to better define the needs of radio amateurs “in the various generational and interest groups, and plan for how ARRL can respond to those needs” effectively. ARRL’s research, he said, has made clear that all radio amateurs want help, regardless of license class, experience, and interests. “They want help figuring out which activities to get involved in, what kind of gear they need for those activities, and where to find like-minded fellow hams,” Shelly wrote, urging radio amateurs to be there for each other.

“[We] all need to keep our vibrant and varied community moving forward amid great change,” Shelley concluded. “Let’s keep encouraging others to join our wonderful hobby, let’s keep talking to each other, and let’s keep teaching each other — after all, that’s the tried-and-true ham way. It’s how we’ve gotten this far.”

The ARRL Board elected Shelley as CEO in January, to succeed Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, who has retired. As Shelley himself nears his own retirement over the next 18 months, the League continues to advertise for applicants to fill the CEO position on a long-term basis.



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