BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Behind AWAR’s success is our dedicated team of experienced leaders, drawn from multiple sectors of the aviation industry including major airlines, leasing companies, financial institutions, law firms and professional services organizations. We share a passion for the advancement of women in all aspects of the industry, and an unwavering belief that by engaging with our male and female industry colleagues, we can drive real change.

In 2022, AWAR will start a new chapter, with a new President of the Board. Click here for more information.

AMELIA ANDERSON

AWAR Co-Founder & President

Amelia Anderson is Co-founder and President of AWAR. During her 30-year career in corporate finance, Amelia saw first-hand the challenges that women often face in advancing their careers. She also saw how dialogue across gender lines can help leaders recognize and overcome bias to level the playing field.

Prior to her retirement from corporate finance in 2018, Amelia was Managing Director, Assistant Treasurer of American Airlines, the largest airline in the world in terms of revenue passenger miles, scheduled passengers carried, and fleet size. At American Airlines, Amelia and her team executed over $50 billion of best-in-class transactions, including financing 500+ new aircraft. Amelia also served as co-chair of the American Airlines Women’s Leadership Program.

In 2021, Amelia joined the Advisory Council of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), an agency of the State of Texas created in 1950 to address problems and challenges facing all modes of transportation. A member of the Texas A&M University system, TTI is a diverse, interconnected group of 700 professionals, students, and support staff representing 38 countries. TTI’s mission is to deliver practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to improve the movement of people, data, and goods through research, education, and technology transfer.

From 2019-2020, Amelia served as Chair of the DCU and Aviation Year of Inclusion, a joint initiative between Dublin City University’s Center of Excellence for Diversity & Inclusion and the Irish aviation industry. Established in 2019, the initiative aims to build awareness, enhance understanding and foster collaboration in the industry. The first research of its kind within the aviation industry Ireland, the initiative seeks to create ongoing data input from multiple segments of the aviation industry including airlines, airports, MRO, aircraft leasing and manufacturing. The insights gathered from this research have and will continue to inform the development of action plans that foster inclusive working environments and position the aviation industry to compete for diverse talent and drive innovation going forward.

In 2017, Amelia was honored to be named the inaugural recipient of the Aviation Woman of the Year award by one of the global aviation industry’s leading news sources, Euromoney’s Airfinance Journal.

Before relocating to Texas in 2014, Amelia lived in Phoenix, Arizona, where she held the positions of Assistant Treasurer and Director of Corporate Audit for copper mining giant Phelps Dodge Corporation, and Managing Director of Corporate Finance for US Airways. She also served the community as a Trustee of the Arizona Opera from 2012-2016, and as Board Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair of Arizona’s Children Association, one of Arizona’s oldest and largest statewide child welfare and behavioral health not-for-profit agencies, from 2009-2013.

Amelia holds a BS degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and an MBA degree in Corporate Finance from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Amelia and her husband Robert, an attorney, have two daughters and reside in Coppell, Texas.

DANA BARTA

Executive Director, Head of Aviation Capital Markets, JP Morgan

AWAR Co-Founder 

Dana joined JPMorgan in July 2021 as an Executive Director to focus on EETC origination and to work with the bank’s other capital markets experts on both aviation and transportation deals.

Prior to JPMorgan, Dana spent 11 years at Morgan Stanley’s Capital Markets division where she was responsible for originating and executing deals in the transportation space. Dana has been involved in all Morgan Stanley EETC transactions 2010-2020, raising $45Bn+ for domestic and international EETCs.

In 2016 Airline Economics has recognized Dana as one of the “40 under 40” to watch. Dana is a co-founder of AWAR.

Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Dana worked at JPMorgan as an Analyst in Structured Credit Products and at Wachovia as an Associate in Structured Equity Products. In these roles, Dana was involved in structuring Synthetic Collateral Debt Obligations and Alternative Investments respectively.

Dana graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mount Holyoke College with a B.A. in Economics and Computer Science and from Columbia’s MBA – the Executive Program in 2015 with Dean’s Honors, sponsored by Morgan Stanley.

Dana was born and raised in Romania and moved to the U.S. to attend college. She lives in Westchester with her husband and two kids.

IRENA BADELSKA

AWAR Board Member

Irena is a Board Member of AWAR and has spent over eleven years in the front lines of the aircraft finance and leasing industry, most recently as a Commercial Officer and a Senior Vice President at Amedeo, an asset management platform and a principal investor focused on commercial aircraft leasing with AUM of US$ 8 billion. Irena was a founding member of Amedeo and has represented the interests of UK institutional investors and multinational private equity shareholders.

In addition to her Board Membership at AWAR, Irena serves as a Committee Member at the Aviation Club in the UK and is a member of the Dublin City University Aviation Industry D&I Advisory Committee.

Irena was a partner at Doric Partners LLP and a member of Doric Asset Finance’s structuring and advisory team from 2008 until 2013, having worked in the Corporate Finance and Investment Banking divisions of leading global financial institutions between 2004 and 2008.

Irena has spoken at numerous aviation conferences and institutional investor events over the past decade on the topics of aircraft investments, asset management, aircraft redeployment and secondary market development, aviation finance, lessor consolidation, aircraft programs evolution as well as gender equality and human talent.

Irena has originated, structured and executed cross-border commercial aircraft financing and leasing transactions involving major international airlines, introducing a suite of financing instruments including equity & debt capital markets products, mezzanine securities and commercial debt financing.

Irena has been closely involved in managing the IPOs of LSE-listed, aircraft investment companies and has led the structuring and execution of US debt capital markets transactions, raising in excess of US$1 billion. Irena has successfully negotiated multilateral lease and loan agreements with the senior management teams of international airlines across multiple jurisdictions.

Irena has extensive experience in managing relationships with key aviation industry stakeholders such as equity investors (pension funds and insurance companies), commercial lenders and investment banks, aircraft and engine manufacturers, international airlines, major leasing companies and asset platforms, and various brokers and intermediaries.

Irena was recently acknowledged by Airline Economics as one of the ‘40 under 40’ future leaders in the aviation industry and was featured in the 2018 issue of the magazine ‘Aviation Life’.

Irena has completed an Executive Leadership Programme in Strategic Negotiations at Harvard Business School and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Studies from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany.

Irena is a graduate of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programme at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and is interested in exploring opportunities of developing innovative investment solutions focusing on key socio-economic and environmental challenges related to the accomplishment of the 17 SDGs established by the UN in 2015 and leveraging off the latest trends in AI (deep learning and advanced machine learning), IoT, Big Data, and blockchain.

Irena is a keen mountaineer, and an amateur sea-kayaker and ice-climber and has undertaken several expedition-style adventures over the past six years including climbs in Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, France, Greenland, Iceland, Mongolia, Peru, Russia, Tanzania, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

As part of her mountaineering pursuits, Irena has completed successful fundraising initiatives for several charitable organisations, most notably in aid of the inspiring projects established by Orbis and WellChild.

MURRAE ROSS-ESKELL

Founder and Managing Director, Horizon Executive Search International Ltd

AWAR Board Member

Murrae Ross-Eskell is Managing Director and Founder of Horizon Executive Search Int’l Ltd. 

With over fifteen years experience in executive search, Murrae is a specialist executive search consultant for the Aviation Industry.  She has successfully placed people in executive and senior roles across the value chain, including aircraft leasing companies, aviation financiers, airlines, airports and service providers (including MRO, catering and ground handling).

Horizon Executive Search, formed in early 2007, was created with two goals in mind; Firstly, that the focus be solely on the clients’ requirements and secondly it would be a search firm that would span not only the various sectors of the aviation industry but also a wider range of personnel levels from board and executive level, to senior and middle management levels across all the functional areas.

The type of roles Murrae has filled extends from C’Level, senior and middle management in varying functions, across the globe from Asia, Europe and Africa, giving her a wealth of experience. 

Murrae is a member of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Traders (ISTAT) and currently sits on the ISTAT Foundation Board as a trustee, along with being the Chair of the Education Committee which includes both the Internship Committee and ISTAT U. Additionally, she is a member of the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA), as well as the Aviation Club of the UK and is a Board Member of Advancing Women in Aviation Roundtable.

Prior to her role at Horizon, Murrae worked at Odgers (Ray &) Berndtson initially as manager of the Global Response Department, and then as an Associate, in the Aviation practice, with particular responsibilities for search, business development and marketing activities.

Murrae’s early career was in media production and the education sector. 

Danielle Roman

Partner, Banking and Finance, Mourant

AWAR Board Member

Danielle is an experienced banking and finance specialist and advises on a broad spectrum of transactions, including asset finance (in particular aircraft and shipping), structured finance, acquisition and leveraged finance, fund financing, debt restructurings, project finance, real estate finance, securitisation and general corporate lending. Her corporate experience includes advising on corporate reorganisations, directors’ duties, mergers and acquisitions and private equity investments. Danielle regularly advises major international banks and financial institutions, lessors, airlines, listed and private  corporations, investment funds and leading onshore law firms. Danielle previously worked at Clifford Chance in Hong Kong and Dentons in London. She is a member of the Steering Committee and appointed as the Philanthropy Committee Chair for ASIFMA’s Women in Finance Asia forum. In 2018, she was named as a ‘Leading Lawyer’ by Corporate Jet Investor, a ‘Rising Star’ by Expert Guides and recognised by ‘Who’s Who Legal: Aircraft guide’ for her expertise in the Aviation Finance sector. Danielle is a proud mother of three children (ages 4, 6 and 8). The directories say that the “technically strong, attentive and responsive” Danielle Roman is “very knowledgeable in the asset finance space” Legal 500, 2018.

Kellianne Kelly

Vice President, Head of SPAC PIPEs & Equity Private Placements, Evercore Partners

AWAR Board Member

Kellianne Kelly is a Vice President and Head of Special Purpose Acquisition Companies Private Investment in Public Equity (SPAC PIPEs) and Equity Private Placements in the firm’s Equity Capital Markets business, where she is charged with securing capital to facilitate SPAC transactions across all industries, through traditional and non- traditional investors. Additionally, she focuses on the structuring and execution of high-growth private placements for companies on a near-term track to IPO / SPAC. Kelli also works on SPAC origination and capital raising for healthcare and biotechnology companies.

Prior to joining Evercore’s Equity Capital Markets practice in 2021, Kelli helped to launch Evercore’s Private Placements Advisory business, where she focused on privately-placed transactions that require debt, equity or hybrid solutions from financial investors.

Prior to joining Evercore, Kelli worked in Barclays’ M&A Structuring and Global Finance Advisory groups, where she spent her time advising clients across various industries on a variety of corporate finance topics: tax consequence analysis, corporate structuring for joint ventures, spin-offs, carve-outs and Reverse Morris Trusts (RMTs), capital structure optimization, fixed / float and liquidity analysis, hedge efficiency, and capital deployment allocation and strategy.

Prior to her banking career, Kelli served in the U.S. Army working in military intelligence and is currently active in Evercore’s Veteran resource group; she also focuses on enhancing Evercore’s other diversity initiatives on behalf of women and underrepresented minorities.

Sarah Pirzada Usmani

Managing Director – Global Head of Sustainable, Asset & Project Finance, UAE, First Abu Dhabi Bank

AWAR Board Member

Sarah has 21+ years of Corporate and Investment banking experience, having worked across a number of banking divisions such as Aviation Finance, Sustainable Finance, Project Finance, Structured Export Finance, Asset Finance, Structured Finance, Structured Trade Finance & Financing Solutions, and Client Relationships across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Currently based in UAE, Sarah is Managing Director & Head of Sustainable, Asset & Project Finance at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). Sarah joined FAB in 2016 from Standard Chartered Bank, where she worked for 16 years and held a number of senior roles, including but not limited to Regional Head of Asset Finance & Leasing, Regional Head of Structured Export Finance, Structured Trade Finance, and Financing Solutions while based in London, Singapore and Karachi.

Sarah has successfully delivered bespoke financing solutions (both conventional and Islamic) to clients across sectors such as power, water, oil & gas, mining, construction, transportation (i.e., shipping and aviation, including airlines, lessors, and manufacturers), demonstrating her ability to meaningfully support the sector in multiple ways.

Under Sarah’s leadership, FAB has been awarded Best Aviation Bank in Middle East-Africa by Airline Economics for 2017, 2019, and 2020, with several award winning/landmark transactions in the aviation sector underpinning this accolade.

Sarah is also the Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Lead for the FAB loans business, advising aviation and other clients on sustainable financing structures. Under Sarah’s direction, FAB has been awarded Outstanding Leadership in Sustainable Finance in the Middle East 2021 by Global Finance.

Sarah has also worked closely with European and Asian Export Credit Agencies (ECAs), having originated, led, and concluded several landmark, award winning project and export finance transactions and advisory assignments for regional and international clients across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She also successfully set up the ECA business within FAB.

In addition to her leadership role in FAB’s Investment Bank, Sarah successfully launched and is leading GCFWomen, an initiative designed to empower female staff and provide a platform for women in FAB’s Global Corporate Finance group.

Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Institute of Business Administration Karachi (Pakistan).

Fiona Scott

Head of Human Resources, CDB Aviation

AWAR Board Member

Fiona is Head of Human Resources at CDB Aviation where she is responsible for delivering strategic HR solutions and change management initiatives; developing and aligning a HR people strategy to support the goals, values and objectives of CDB Aviation.

With a strong aviation background, Fiona spent approximately 15 years in executive search, recruitment and selection roles within the aviation industry. Initially supporting airlines across Europe, CIS and Asia with aviation recruitment requirements, she later partnered with aircraft leasing companies, private equity clients, OEMs and aviation finance institutions. Fiona has successfully led international search and recruitment campaigns across all industry functions including C-level, Marketing, Legal, Trading, Risk, Finance, Technical, and others.

Fiona was formerly a member of the AWAR Steering Committee, is a founding member of PropelHer, and is a recipient of the Airline Economics 2018 40 Under 40 Award. She regularly speaks at the Career Panel Event for the Aircraft Leasing and Financing Courses at the Law Society.

An honors graduate in International Marketing & Languages from Dublin City University, Fiona is currently completing a Master of Science degree in Talent, Leadership and HR Strategy, also at DCU.

Laura Cunningham

Partner, Aviation and Asset Finance, Arthur Cox

AWAR Board Member

Laura is a partner in the Aviation and Asset Finance Group in Arthur Cox, Dublin, Ireland where she specializes in asset and structured finance with a focus principally on aircraft finance, leasing and related tax driven structures. She represents leasing companies, lenders, equity investors and airlines in a broad range of cross-border transactions including financings, restructurings, Islamic financings, leasing, asset portfolio sale and purchase transactions and sale and leaseback transactions.

In her role as a partner in Arthur Cox she has dedicated herself to the advancement of women to positions of leadership and is a founding member of EMBRACE, the firm’s diversity and inclusion network. Laura is also a mentor as part of PropelHer’s mentoring programme, which aims to help women in the aircraft leasing industry advance their professional and personal development through connections with senior aircraft leasing professionals.

Prior to joining Arthur Cox as a partner in 2019, Laura worked internationally in aviation with Milbank, principally in their London office having also spent time in their Singapore office. Laura has also worked in Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer’s aviation and asset finance team, having begun her career training as a solicitor with Arthur Cox.

Laura graduated with a Bachelor in Corporate Law and Spanish and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She also holds a Master of Laws in Commercial Law from the University of Cambridge. She has been admitted as a solicitor in the jurisdictions of Ireland and England and Wales.

Laura regularly lectures in the Masters in Aviation Finance program at the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College of Dublin. Laura is also a contributor to the upcoming 5th edition of Aircraft Financing by Rob Murphy, published by Bloomsbury Professional in aid of Orbis.

Client feedback featured in legal directories describe Laura as “a fantastic lawyer. [Laura] commits herself to any given deal and works tirelessly until the transaction is brought to a successful close,” (Legal 500 EMEA 2020) and “Very responsive, client friendly, pragmatic, deal maker, bright, flexible and good at finding solutions,” IFLR 1000: The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms, 2021.

ImpactfuL AWAR EVENTS

Unique opportunities for real engagement – across gender and seniority lines

AWAR events seek to educate and enlighten, providing unique opportunities for engagement with our industry colleagues. Roundtable exercises set the stage for meaningful dialogue and learning through shared experiences.