Hank Boerner
Hank Boerner


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The Worklife Journeys and Photo Album of Hank Boerner





Chapter Headings

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) / Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

American Airlines (AA)

New York Stock Excahange (NYSE)

Aviation / Airports / Flying Days

Consulting / Engagements

Pro Bono Activities

Writing Days


The WorkLife Journeys and Photo Album of Hank Boerner

Following are notes and biographical highlights of my worklife journeys. Click on any picture to view a larger image - (Images open in a new window.) It's been a grand adventure! One filled with wonderful people. Links will take you to additional notes (where indicated.)



Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) / Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)



GOVERNOR ROCKEFELLER - MY BOSS, MENTOR, STILL A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller was elected to office four times (beginning in 1958), made a serious bid for the presidential nomination in 1964, and later served as President Gerald Ford's Vice President. His visionary programs included sweeping public and public-private initiatives in education (State University of New York), transportation (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), affordable housing, and public infrastructure (Albany Mall).

I was recruited to be a manager in the newly formed New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority and served as member of Governor Rockefeller's team. During the very troubled days of the Long Island Rail Road - just after NYS MTA's purchase of the nation's busiest commuter railroad -- there were serious service interruptions and an unending wave of crisis events that eroded public confidence in the LIRR. The line, many experts believed, was coming close to a point of collapse. A crisis manager was needed. So I left a "cushy job" (said the New York Post) at American Airlines to step in.

What I found when I arrived at Jamaica headquarters was not good: 90,000 commuters depended on the LIRR to/from New York City - many were Wall Streeters, bankers and other professionals. Without reliable LIRR and MTA tranport and/or connections, New York City's economy would be affected - already, stock exchange and banking offices were being disrupted by late arriving Long Island employees. There were 270,000 "rides" a day and most were usually disrupted by one event or another during those dark days.

As the media pounded away everyday, Governor Rockefeller stepped in and, leveraging his considerable political capital and winning personality, bought time for the line to transition to state agency status, for a re-organization of the LIRR management team, and for the effects of massive capital investment to begin to show. I was point person in this five-year effort, serving as Director of Public Relations and Community Affairs, and often seconded to MTA for specific regional communications and public affairs projects. (Including campaigning to win approval for New York's largest transportation bond issue, roughly $30 billion in 2004 dollars.) (http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/lirr/)

Earlier I had been active in the governor's campaigns, serving as founder and chairman for the "Pilots for Rocky" organization, and barnstorming the state to generate aviation community support for "Rocky." We happy band of pilots flew around the state rallying our fellow airmen to "VFR" - Vote For Rocky.


Photo 1:
Governor Rockefeller and I "come to terms" on the preservation of Long Island's Republic Airport on the tarmac at Republic. His aircraft landed at Republic regularly to demonstrate "this is an airport!" I organized the Babylon Airport Council (later, known as the Regional Aviation Council of LI) to generate support for the airfield's survival. Rockefeller put his influence to work to smooth the way for the MTA to acquire the former military airfield, which today is one of the region's busiest general aviation airports. He was a great friend of general aviation.

Photo 2:
Governor Rockefeller and I and meet and greet the LIRR union leadership on a tour of facilities (Hank Boerner, Rocky's tour guide, at right). Rocky's charm helped to smooth troubled relations with LIRR's 18 unions.

Photo 3:
Governor Rocky en route to deliver a speech at the old Garden City Hotel, promising to make the LIRR the "finest railroad in the nation" - I am getting instructions at left. Press Secretary Ron Maiorano in center. Rocky is on his way to promise the LIRR would be the nation's finest in just 60 days.


MONKEYIN' AROUND - LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD STYLE

Photo 23:
Forget the occasion for this visit to my office by a star of NBC's Today Show. He couldn't type worth a darn and ate too many pencils to be of much worth in the office.


MORE MONKEYIN' AROUND

Photo 24:
Our parlor car fleet was something quite unique and I offered the use of the 100 year old fleet to movie makers, television producers and photographers. One day the guys who covered us unmercifully on Eyewitness News came along for campaign-style promotional shots. Center is the late Roger Grimsby and at right is Bill Beutel - popular anchors at ABC-New York. I give the "V" for victory sign (left) 'cause I got them to come visit and smile about the LIRR. However...note Roger's subtle signs (left and right hands)...hmmm.



Photo:
Early in my time at LIRR/MTA, the conditions were harsh (for passengers and LIRR staff!). Getting the passengers' attention proved challenging. One day my treasured team-mate and right hand, Lou Duro and I tested the idea of having smiling, attractive women capture the attention of commuters to provide timely information. It worked! That led to the formation of a great crew of LIRR employees engaging with our passengers


Metro Mini Maids
The idea blossomed into the concept of the "Metro Mini Maids" quickly being organized. Don't know where that title came from but everyone loved the concept. We recruited women from throughout our organization,designed an avante-garde 1970s costume for them, trained them in "friendly customer relations" and sent them out to connect and engage. Over time as the railroad conditions improved the "MMM" teammates became marketing ambassadors and great promoters of the brand. And our customers loved it! Here's a selection of photos from those grand days, courtesy of one of the great MMM's, Diane (Alger) Nelson. ‚Äč


American Airlines (AA)




Photo 21:
American Airlines Corporate "Citizenship" Officer Hank Boerner



Photo 22:
For a time I had the job of promoting the separate American Airlines Freight System.



Photo:
The proud AA logo in my days at the airline.


New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)






In early 1973, as the LIRR was shut down by a strike by the various operating unions for more than six weeks, I began thinking about the next chapter in my career. I was living in the hotel at the entrance to Kennedy International (on duty around the clock) and serving as spokesman for the negotiating teams (LIRR management and union leaders) "through" the federally-appointed mediator who was trying to settle the strike so the 90,000+ daily commuters and 80,000+ other riders could have service from the 100+ stations along the nine branches.

A headhunter called; some folks were apparently monitoring my spokesman duties (on radio, television, in the daily newspapers) and appraising my role as crisis manager -- would I be interested in coming to Wall Street? The New York Stock Exchange, the venerable institution founded in 1792, was being re organized with a new management team, a new board of directors, a new full-time chairman -- and the succession plans were being put in place for new officers. The LIRR strike ended; service resumed; I resigned and reported to 11 Wall Street as the new head of communications.

There were two officers senior to me, and I was to understudy them until they would be moving on. In the turmoil of the time, that happened quickly and they were gone and I was suddenly the point person, head of the communications staff and chief spokesman for the NYSE. These were difficult times for Wall Street and the investors, and the center of the turmoil was often the Exchange.

Paperwork snarls almost paralyzed the Street in the late 1960s, and members of Congress were circling with a hunger for "reform." The Exchange created a new board (half of the directors were "public" representatives, and half were from the Exchange member firms). A full-time chairman was recruited - James Needham, a commissioner of the Securities & Exchange Commission. He began recruiting a new management team...and so, the call from the headhunter to me. I reported to Chairman Needham.

Our "Street" boss was the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Donald Regan, then Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch. He was an able and fierce representative of the interests of Wall Street and served 1973-75. (In 1981 President Ronald Reagan would name Regan as Treasury Secretary; he would move then to White House Chief of Staff.)

The big immediate action that I plunged into was in Washington DC -- was taking place in the Subcommittee on Commerce and Finance of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in the House of Representatives. California Congressman John Moss (Democrat) led the 1973-1975 campaign to enact "the most comprehensive securities legislation passed by Congress since the passage of the original securities laws in the 1930s, following the market crash of 1929." (Source: John Moss Foundation: http://www.johnemossfoundation.org/h_rowen.htm)

I had an exciting introductory period as I began my new job:

  • OPEC, the new cartel of the oil-producing states, especially in the Middle East, dramatically raised prices of crude oil (quadrupling the price!) in October 1973. As the news came across the wire service tape in our office, I remember telling my staff "this is an economic Pearl Harbor!" Member of the "Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries" declared an oil embargo and price hike. This "shock wave" ripped through the American corporate community - and Wall Street offices. This was an angry reaction to the western nations' support of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. We are still dealing with the effects of this and other OPEC actions, I believe.


  • The postwar Bretton Woods Accord which helped to stabilize the world economy, began to fall apart as President Richard Nixon pulled the U.S. out of the Accord and abandoned the "Gold Standard," where the value of the US dollar was linked to the price of gold. Currencies began to wobble and fluctuate; the U.S. dollar, "standard of the world," began to depreciate. The stock market was directly impacted.


  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost half its value. The stock market crashed as I arrived, and the 1973-74 "bear market" was one of the worst stock market downturns in modern history. Welcome to Wall Street, Hank!.


  • The U.S. economy went from plus 7% growth to minus 2% during this time. Inflation dumped from 3% to 12% in 1974.


  • It was bad elsewhere; the major economies of the world outside the USA lost at least one-third or more of the value of shares being traded on the various exchanges.


  • A National Market System was approved by the 93rd Congress, to use technology to tie together the New York and regional exchanges for paperwork...eventually that would become a very fluid market that reduced the power of the NYSE in most dramatic fashion.


  • The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) launched a new electronic trading exchange - for "Automated Quotation," what we know as the NASDAQ OMX exchange today.


  • President Richard M. Nixon was on his way to being impeached by the Congress as the drama of the "Watergate" hearings wound on. Members of his team would be convicted of criminal behavior and served jail sentences. As the president resigned (August 8, 1974), boarded his helicopter with his family and flew away from the White House, his hand-picked VP, Gerald Ford would become our 38th president.


  • On June 4, 1975, President Ford signed the /Securities Acts Amendments of 1975/ into law. The backbone of the revenue generation of the NYSE members (in effect, the Exchange owners) would be dramatically reduced, as the Act did away with fixed commissions. Very lucrative commissions! We can divide the modern era of Wall Street into before May 1, 1975 and after that day. The Big Bucks quickly began to go away for the brokerage community (mostly partnerships in those days).


  • Influential members of the Exchange community were up in arms; Richard Nixon was almost a Wall Streeter, as he had his office right next door the Exchange on Broad Street. There were back room discussions about doing something if Nixon was forced from office. I had a series of intense discussions about these "possibilities" - which the press was getting wind of.


My timing was good on one hand - my old boss, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, elected four times to the office, stepped down as New York State Governor on December 18, 1973, in the same year that I moved on from state government service in the ranks of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority / LIRR. It was a good decision to move on.

On December 19, 1974, "Rocky" became Vice President of the United States on (serving 1974-77). At the time, I found this to be incredible: President Nixon`s running mate and our elected vice president, Spiro Agnew, was forced to resign in October 1973, and President Nixon selected Gerald Ford to be VP (he was a prominent member of Congress for many years). Then Nixon resigns, Ford becomes president and he selects an un-elected VP - my old boss, Governor Rockefeller. Two unelected leaders guiding our nation through a very rough patch!.

And as a highly-regulated and closely-watched institution, the New York Stock Exchange was often in the media spotlight with one crisis after another.

  • The capital markets were changing in dramatic ways in the 1970s. Trading was on the verge of becoming more globalized. One of the projects I worked on was the "18-hour" trading day (trades would be almost around the clock among exchanges from Tokyo and Hong Kong following the sun westward to Europe, London, New York, San Francisco, etc.).


  • I was one of the coordinators of the first meetings of the F.I.B.V. in the United States - the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs, in New York City. This is now the World Federation of Stock Exchanges (WFE). Many issues were debated concerning regulation of securities and exchanges; cooperation between exchanges; the expansion of trading among key exchanges; and the future of exchange activities as new technologies were being introduced. A highlight was a cruise all around New York Harbor and landing at Gracey Mansion for dinner with Mayor John Lindsay and his cabinet. The Federation today is an association of more than 60 publicly-regulated exchanges, with membership from around the globe.


After several intense years with the above activities I decided to move on to become a consultant and crisis and issues advisor to corporate managements. During my time at the Exchange I had close relations with dozens of company managers responsible for communications and investor relations, and provided advice on timely disclosure, materiality and disclosure, corporate governance, and related topics. I decided to do that full time in my own venture, Boerner Communications, Inc. (organized 1976).

My boss, Jim Needham, did not survive long as the reformer of the Exchange; he left shortly after I did (he departed in April 1976).

I learned a lot during my tenure at 11 Wall Street, many lessons that I applied over the years as an issues and crisis management consultant to boards, CEOs, CFOs, and senior managers. I`m proud to say that I am an alum of The Big Board.



Photo 20:
New York Stock Exchange Officer Hank Boerner



Photo:
Former NYSE staffer returns as tourist on Broad Street and Wall


Aviation / Airports / Flying Days



CAPTAIN HANK ON THE AIR ... AND OVERHEAD

Photo 7:
"This is Captain Hank, your eye-in-the-sky!" On weekends in the 1960s I broadcast traffic, weather and news for a network of radio stations in New York. This was a weekend joyride aloft, an opportunity to log flight hours and indulge in a passion for piloting. Perks included great scenes over New York City, Long Island, the harbor and miles of beaches and Atlantic seashore. Broadcasts were Saturdays and Sundays over WGBB, WCTO and other stations. Some of the young anchors in the studio have gone on to stardom in broadcasting and I am grateful to them for helping to make me sound good "on the radio," a medium I grew up with and continue to love.
Click here for the WGBB Reunion Page


AVIATION WRITING LED TO GREAT ADVENTURES LATER
Early in my journalist career, I was an aviation and aerospace writer, serving as East Coast Editor of Flight, the magazine published for the corporate aviation community by the bigger-than-life Texan, George E. Haddaway. (George's aviation collection is now the centerpiece of the new "Frontiers of Flight" museum rising in Dallas near Love Field under the patronage of co-founder [1988] US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. See http://www.flightmuseum.com/about.htm for information.) For additional information on George Haddaway See: http://www.lsfm.org/Bios/george_haddaway.html
And.. http://www.caphistory.org/famous_people.html

I was also New York Editor of Air Transport World (http://www.atwonline.com) when that airline industry magazine was launched by aviation writer Joseph Murphy. My full-time job at the time was associate editor, feature writer and columnist with the Long Island Daily Commercial Review, one of the nation's first regional business newspapers, where I filed aviation stories as well as business and finance news and feature stories, and penned three columns a week.

Paul B. Townsend was the Editor and Publisher of The Review (the newspaper was later sold by Paul and wife Terry to Dolan Publications, owners of many regional newspapers in the USA and is now Long Island Business -- http://www.libn.com/). Paul was my mentor, supporter and inspiration for adopting the habit of envisioning "what might be..." (Click here for a tribute page to my mentor, Paul Townsend)

When Federal Aviation Administrator Najeeb Halaby announced that he was stepping down, he granted me his last interview in that office. That 5,000-word article cemented a long-term relationship (I had covered Mr. Halaby at FAA), resulting years later in a close business relationship when 'Jeeb left the Chairmanship of Pan American World Airways to launch Halaby International. Halaby had the support of Lawrence Rockefeller, Robert Anderson (oilman) and Thomas Watson, Jr. (IBM) in developing new ventures in developing markets.

Joining forces, Jeeb Halaby and I pursued many adventures in global markets, including extensive business activities in the Middle East. One day, a young Princeton grad showed up in the Halaby offices seeking an interim assignment while considering grad studies at Columbia School of Journalism. Miss Lisa Halaby moved "temporarily" to Amman, Jordan to assist her Dad and Hank and colleagues with various projects.

She was intelligent, worldly, hard working, and innovative, and a great help to us with various ventures, including positioning of the Kingdom of Jordan's growing airline, Alia-The Royal Jordanian Airline.

One thing led to another; Miss Halaby married His Majesty King Hussein (a Halaby-Boerner client for many years), and became Queen Nour al-Hussein (Light of Hussein). I had the privilege of coordinating worldwide media coverage of the wedding and have remained a friend of the Royal couple. King Hussein tragically passed on in 1999 after a heoic battle against cance. As I told a TV interviewer, "He was the first to reach for peace, and the US has lost an important ally in the Middle East." Fortunately, his son King Abdullah, is perhaps even more supportive of American interests in the region, and an able leader of the Jordanian people. I knew him when he was a young student here in the U.S.


Photo 9:
Who knew what great adventures were to follow! Najeeb E. Halaby, head of FAA (center) shows off the "U.S. Supersonic" transport to publisher Paul Townsend (left) and young aviation writer Hank Boerner, when we interviewed him as he exited FAA. He was a Kennedy New Frontiersman who also served in the Lyndon Johnson Administration. The American SST was not to be. A long relationship with Mr. Halaby and Mr. Townsend was to be. Paul is still active today. Najeeb Halaby passed on recently. He was one of the greatest minds I've ever known. And the media loved him!

Photo 10:
Editor Paul Townsend and aviation business writer Hank Boerner arrive at 600 Independence Avenue for the last interview (in office) of FAA Administrator Halaby. Paul was one of my most important mentors and a great friend over 40 years! He gave me the "big break" to begin my writing career.

For interesting stories of the newspaper's first 50 years, see: http://www.libn.com/libnat50.cfm>

For info on Mr. Najeeb Halaby, see http://www.leelanau.org/alumni/hall_halaby.asp
And http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2003/july9/obithalaby-79.html
And http://www.aaiusa.org/foundation/1035/najeeb-halaby-award

For info on Her Majesty Queen Nour al Hussein see her Web Site: http://www.noor.gov.jo/index.htm



PBT IN 2000

Photo 11:
Paul Townsend and protege Hank Boerner in November 2000, as Paul is honored by his friends and colleagues for his many years of service to the business community. In 2004, Dowling College announced the "Paul and Terry Townsend School of Business" at Dowling would be created, to offer both Undergrad and Graduate and Post Master's programs in business. Bravo, Paul! (www.dowling.edu)


AVIATORS - FRIENDS

Photo 14:
"Fearless Freddie" - Fred Feldman, WOR's Radio helicopter pilot-traffic broadcaster and Hank Boerner at LaGuardia Airport (with the Bell). Fred was a good friend; I gave him his "Fearless" nickname in a column, and it caught on. He headed up Shadow Traffic in New York and unfortunately passed on at an early age.

Photo 15:

Photo 16:
Flying around with Fearless in his Bell "710" helicopter, I got the bug to do airborne broadcasting. Freddie taught me the ropes and then my good friends at the Long Island Radio Network agreed to weekend broadcasts, Saturday am and Sunday am and pm. So for three years, Memorial Day to Labor Day, I provided listeners of a string of LI radio stations with beach traffic, ocean conditions for surfing and fishing, Jones Beach parking lot openings, and frequently, news broadcasts from overhead the scene. Bruce Herbert, Jim Ferguson, Ray Adell, Bob Allen, and other radio guys in the broadcast booth helped to dress up my broadcasts, and Dick Scholem (now a NY Times columnist) approved thee concept and helped me with the business end - thanks, guys.


YOU TOOK THAT?

Photo 17:
Fearless Fred (left) shows off slides he had taken of New York's skyline to Jim Pyle, head of the Aviation Development Council, and former FAA administrator and Hank Boerner (right).


AIRPORT PROMOTIONS

Photo 26:
Early in my career I promoted the preservation of New York State's valuable airport inventory. So many airports were lost after WW II...and, quite a few saved. My proudest achievement was preservation of Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY. I organized the Long Island Aviation Council and later, founded and headed the New York State Airports Council. One of the LI Council's early accomplishments was encouraging the creation of heliports at area hospitals.

Photo 27:
We recognized public officials who supported airports and regional aviation.

The Council presented Speaker of the New York State Assembly Perry Duryea (Montauk, NY) with ACLI's Distinguished Achievement Award. Perry was a former US Navy pilot who continued aviating all through his Albany years.

We honored the two county executives on Long Island who encouraged aviation use. H. Lee Dennison (right), Suffolk County Executive, was a pioneer in encouraging the preservation of airports in his county, including Republic. Ralph Caso, Nassau County Exeuctive (center) often opposed airlines and the Port Authority because of airport-related noise, but was supportive of general and specialized aviation in the county.

Consulting / Engagements



ADDRESSING THE 1990S CREDIT CRUNCH
The 1980s were often troubled times for bankers: The Crash of 1987, the $500 billion S&L disaster, and failure of literally hundreds of banks, and reaction by Congress and bank regulators resulting in severe tightening of credit. In the early 1990s, a coalition of retailers, investors, service firms and real estate developers engaged me to assist in breaking the gridlock between lenders and commercial borrowers...known popularly as the "Credit Crunch." Drawing on my experience with banking and financial services, I developed a set of recommendations that were presented to the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, FDIC and other regulators to consider to ease credit (and get the economy moving!). A series of public meetings around the nation followed Washington meetings, and a number of the suggestions were adopted to open the credit window.


Photo 6:
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, US Senator Chuck Schumer (then Member of the House Banking Committee) and Hank Boerner on The Hill - and set to work on the plan.


ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES - CLIENT SUCCESS STORY

Photo 18:
Najeeb Halaby, aviation entrepreneur extraordinaire (center) with Royal Jordanian Airlines Chairman / CEO Ali Ghandour (right). (Hank at left). Halaby and I were strategists and marketers for the carrier and senior advisors to Chairman Ghandour. Ghandour and Halaby had a collaborative relationship that paid great dividends for RJ and the developing world's aviation entities.

Photo 19:
We were celebrating RJ's 15th Anniversary. (HM King Hussein created the national airline to link Jordan and the world in the same fashion as the Dutch sailing ships ventured to Earth's far corners centuries earlier, he said.) At this point in the 1980s, RJ was very close to being the fastest growing airline in the industry. Note "dedication of Fifth Avenue Ticket Offices" on sign - the office was designed by Mr. Halaby's daughter, Lisa, a consultant to RJ. Shortly after she became Queen Nour.


MIDDLE EAST PILOTING

Photo 25:
HM King Hussein was a skilled pilot who enjoyed being in the air in a fixed wing or helicopter. Here we prepare for an ABC "Good Morning, America" shoot (featuring HM, who is at right). He piloted host Pierre deLespinois (center) and crew (and me, at left) to a flat mesa on the border with Saudi Arabia. We could hear our blood pump it was so still above the desert floor (overlooking "Wadi Rum" where "Lawrence of Arabia" was filmed in the 1960s). This was one of His Majesty's favorite spots...HM would come here to contemplate, he explained.


Pro Bono Activities



SAVE THE WINE INDUSTRY
In the 1980s, a new industry popped up out of the ground on Long Island's North Fork - grape growing and wine making ("Vitis Vinifera" varieties such as Chardonnay and Merlot). As the new industry developed, I helped a few hardy pioneers organize the "Long Island Grape Growers Association," (LIGGA). In seeking support for legislation (and funding) to help New York State's beleaguered wine-grape industry, Governor Mario Cuomo asked me to get involved to help get legislation passed. As part of the omnibus package, $2 million ($5MM in 2004 dollars) was appropriated to help the industry, and the New York Wine Grape Foundation was formed by the Legislature. I was nominated to the board by Assembly Speaker Stanley Fink and appointed by Governor Cuomo, and served as foundation secretary, and chairman of the Marketing Committee, which created the "Uncork New York" campaign. (http://www.newyorkwines.org/index2.asp)


Photo 8:
Governor Mario M. Cuomo (center), James Trezise, CEO of the NY Wine Grape Foundation (left) and Hank Boerner at a New York State wine tasting in the Governor's Mansion (Albany). The governor seemed to prefer the New York reds!


Writing Days



FINANCIAL WRITING

Photo 12:
Hank Boerner at start of career as financial and business journalist.



ON BOARD AND INTERVIEWING

Photo 13:
Jerry Jarrard was a senior executive of American Airlines and very quotable; here I am interviewing him on board a flight to Canada. Later I was invited to join the airline.

Copyright 2005 H.L. Boerner. All rights reserved.

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