Last week, Boeing promoted George Roman, vice president of government operations for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), to a role managing state and local government operations nationwide, as well as global corporate citizenship for both Boeing Commercial Airplanes and IDS
Boeing is combining two units responsible for local government relations and corporate philanthropy into one position, and shifting authority over both to an executive in St. Louis, home of its defense business.
Boeing said the change to its management structure is intended to further integrate the company, but the shift raised questions about local access to senior company executives for civic projects important to the Puget Sound region.
Last week, the company promoted George Roman, vice president of government operations for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), to a role managing state and local government operations nationwide, as well as global corporate citizenship for both Boeing Commercial Airplanes and IDS.
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Previously, Boeing Commercial had its own vice president, Fred Kiga, in charge of state and local government relations and global corporate citizenship.
Kiga now reports to Roman, and it’s unclear what new role he will play, said Boeing spokesman Bernard Choi.
Kiga joined Boeing in 2007 after posts as director of corporate and government relations at Russell Investments and chief of staff to former Gov. Gary Locke while the state arranged a big incentive package to land the 787 assembly line in Everett. He serves on the University of Washington board of regents.
Roman, by contrast, has spent many years at the company, including as vice president and general manager for Support Systems at IDS and vice president and chief of staff of Boeing’s operations in Washington, D.C. He joined McDonnell Douglas in 1980 as program coordinator for the Harpoon missile program.
Jim Albaugh, the former IDS chief sent to Seattle in September as the new boss of the commercial division, had worked with and promoted Roman in St. Louis.
Boeing is one of the largest corporate donors in Washington state. Its executives sit on boards of local philanthropies and have helped steer large capital projects for nonprofits, particularly in the arts.
Choi said that role would not change.
“We appreciate the concerns folks might have. We are a big partner in the community,” he said. “Titles and location aside, if we are giving the same amount of money to great causes in our community, then what has changed? Nothing has changed in that realm at all.”
Boeing and its employees donated about $48 million to philanthropy in the state in 2007 and again in 2008. Its philanthropy this year is likely to match that amount, including cash, company matching grants, sponsorships and an employee community fund, said Choi.
Representatives from Boeing have been “in almost every major conversation we’ve had around collaborative philanthropy,” said Carol Lewis, CEO of Philanthropy Northwest. “The important thing is do they continue to provide leadership for the community in a variety of important civic efforts?”
Kiga’s job included participating in a Boeing senior leadership team that made decisions about large grants. If he moves on to a new role, a key question is whether his replacement will have both the deep knowledge of local nonprofit and government priorities and a seat at the executive table.
Other local employees now under Roman’s new umbrella include Liz Vivian, Northwest Region senior manager for global corporate citizenship; Tim Nowlis, director of government relations and global corporate citizenship at Boeing Commercial Airplanes; and David Schumacher, director of state and local government relations at Boeing and a former Washington State policy analyst.
Along with Roman in St. Louis, Vice President Anne Roosevelt at Boeing corporate headquarters in Chicago leads global corporate citizenship with strategic direction on giving.
Boeing also wanted a streamlined approach to relations with state and local governments, Choi said.
“When we have a government-relations group talk with King County, that person should represent The Boeing Company, not just the commercial side or just the defense side,” he said. “This is an issue for Boeing, period. It’s really wanting to simplify the structure.”
Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or firstname.lastname@example.org