December 9, 2015 - Issue: Vol. 161, No. 178 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 1st Session
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 [www.gpo.gov] 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 years.'' 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. ____________________