Marion Blakey, the longtime face and voice of U.S. aerospace and defense industry concerns in Washington, is leaving her lobby perch to take over European engine-maker Rolls-Royce’s North American (RRNA) operations.

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the company announced the move separately on Feb. 24. She will become CEO and president of RRNA at the company’s Reston, Virginia, headquarters, and chair its U.S. board of directors.

In turn, AIA, where Blakey has been CEO and president for more than seven years, said it is "quickly moving forward to identify Marion’s successor."

James Guyette, CEO, president and chairman of RRNA, is retiring May 31.

"We are extremely pleased to have Ms. Blakey leading the North American region because she brings deep industry perspective and is a well-respected voice in Washington," said John Rishton, chief executive of London-based Rolls-Royce. "These markets are critical to our Aerospace and Land & Sea divisions and I am delighted to have a person of her caliber to join us in this role."

Blakey – an Alabama native whose Southern style of speaking seamlessly adapted to different audiences and moments – is known in the U.S. capital as an intelligent, experienced and media-savvy proponent of A&D interests. After joining AIA in November 2007, she effectively took up the cause of lobbying for change regarding exporting commercial satellite technology, maintaining congressional support for the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, and for the "Second to None" public relations campaign to fight so-called sequestration cuts, particularly in defense spending.

Other efforts have included promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) workforce and education concerns, as well as underpinning NASA’s stature as the space shuttle was retired and sequestration took effect.

Blakey’s previous positions included a five-year term as administrator of the FAA, as well as about a year as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. She has received several honors throughout her career, including the National Aeronautic Association’s 2011 Henderson and 2013 Wright Brothers Memorial trophies, as well as a 2013 Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate award.

RRNA counts more than 8,000 workers across the North America region in 26 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces and three Mexican states. Major operations are in Indianapolis; Prince George County, Virginia; Walpole, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Montreal; and NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Guyette joined Rolls-Royce in 1997, according to the company, after a 28-year career at United Airlines. He has sat on several industry boards, including as chairman of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, as well as AIA and the Flight Safety Foundation, and also has won an AW&ST Laureate.

"I couldn’t be any more pleased to have Marion take my place as the leader of Rolls-Royce North America," Guyette said. "I’ve known her for many years, serving together on the AIA Board of Governors and other very important industry initiatives. She is a valued and trusted voice in our industry, and a wonderful friend. This experience – with AIA and previously with the FAA and NTSB – will be extremely valuable to Rolls-Royce and our 8,000 employees located in the region."