Kenneth Ricci is a 38 year aviation industry veteran who today is a Principal of Directional Aviation Capital, which owns various aviation enterprises including Flexjet, Sentient Jet, Private Fly, Nextant Aerospace, Stonebriar Commercial Finance, Reva Air Ambulance, Simcom and Constant Aviation.
Kenn began his aviation career as an Air Force ROTC cadet at the University of Notre Dame and started his first company, Corporate Wings, in 1980. He is an airline transport pilot with extensive international experience and was Governor William Clinton’s pilot when he ran for President in 1992. He has assembled one of the largest groups of private aviation companies, which together account for over $2 billion of revenue, operate over 150 aircraft and employ over 2,000 individuals.
Kenn was honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year in 2000, and has been named one the most influential people in aviation by Aviation International News.
In 2010, Kenn received the Harvard Business School’s Dively Entrepreneurship Award, and, in 2012, was the youngest recipient of the prestigious William Ong Award for extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry.
He was also the founder of Nextant Aerospace, the innovator of aircraft remanufacturing. In 2015, Kenn received the Aviation Week Network’s Laureate Award, a benchmark of industry excellence, recognizing his work and development at Nextant Aerospace.
Kenn received the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award from the Living Legends of Aviation in 2016. In 2014, the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation honored Kenn for championing research and treatment of the disease, which affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States.
Kenn graduated from the University of Notre Dame and recently announced the first ever $100 million gift to the University. He also graduated from the Cleveland Marshall School of Law, where he was named as their distinguished alumni of the year in 2016 and named to their Alumni Hall of fame in 2018. Kenn serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Notre Dame, the Smithsonian & University Hospitals.
Kenn’s management strategies have been featured in the Wall Street Journal and he is the author of “Management by Trust,” a book featuring practical management techniques for building employee trust and success.