TRIBUTE TO WILL RIS; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 178
(Senate - December 09, 2015)

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[Pages S8538-S8539]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          TRIBUTE TO WILL RIS

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I would like to take a moment to thank 
Will Ris for his service to American aviation and to congratulate him 
on his well-deserved retirement.
  For nearly 20 years, Will has been senior vice president of 
government affairs for American Airlines--the principal government 
relations executive for the airline. His diverse responsibilities 
include directing all of American's activities with Congress, the 
administration, and several Federal agencies. And what could possibly 
be better than waking up every day and helping Congress and the Federal 
Government better understand the airline industry?
  Earlier this year, Will announced that he will retire from American 
Airlines at the end of this month.
  Will Ris's impact on American Airlines and its people cannot be 
overstated. Since joining American in 1996, Will has been a dedicated 
representative and the voice of the airline and its people; but, more 
importantly, he has been a trusted advocate on Capitol Hill. I have 
worked with Will and his American Airlines team on countless issues 
that affect passenger air service

[[Page S8539]]

at Chicago O'Hare International Airport and throughout downstate 
Illinois. His honesty, professionalism, patience, and sense of humor 
have made him one of the most sought after advisors on airline industry 
issues. He will be missed.
  During Will's tenure at American, he led the effort to protect the 
domestic aviation industry, assure the continued viability of passenger 
service, and establish new security measures in the wake of the attacks 
in 2001. He has also led the effort to gain public and political 
support for the merger between American and U.S. Airways--creating a 
strong, competitive airline employing more than 100,000 people all over 
the world.
  American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker recently honored Will 
with these words: ``Will understands commercial aviation and cares 
about the frontline professionals who are the backbone of our business. 
Will embodies all of the best things about American Airlines, and 
thanks to his extraordinary efforts, American will be great for 
  Prior to joining American, Will represented the airline as outside 
counsel for 13 years as the executive vice president of the Wexler 
Group. He also served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Civil 
Aeronautics Board from 1975 to 1978. In 1978, Will was appointed 
counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation and its Aviation Subcommittee. In this post, Will played 
a major role in drafting the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and 
successfully navigating the legislative maze all the way to President 
Jimmy Carter's desk for his signature. This landmark law changed the 
face of commercial aviation in this country.
  Will Ris's love of aviation and passion for American Airlines is well 
known, but more importantly, Will is known as one of the most decent 
men in Washington. He spends countless hours committed to community 
service. He serves as chairman emeritus of the board of directors of 
the Green Door, Inc., the oldest and largest behavioral health 
providers--helping nearly 1,600 people every year battling chronic 
mental health and substance abuse conditions. Additionally, he serves 
as vice chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities--
the country's largest cross-disabilities membership organization. He is 
also a director of the Ford's Theater board of governors, the Business-
Government Relations Council, the Advanced Navigation and Positioning 
Corporation in Hood River, OR, and a member of the board of trustees 
for the Woolly Mammoth Theater right here in Washington, DC. Where does 
he find the time?
  I want to congratulate Will Ris on his distinguished career and thank 
him for his service to American Airlines. I have had the privilege in 
public life to meet some outstanding people; I count Will Ris as one of 
those people. I wish him and his wife, Nancy, all the best in the next 
chapter of their lives.
  Thank you.