Washington, D.C.-based law firm Akin Gump has announced that Mark A. Aitken II, the former director of government relations at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), has joined the firm as a senior policy advisor in its communications practice.
At Akin Gump, Aitken will advise clients on regulatory and policy matters pertaining to autonomous vehicles, the firm says.
While at AUVSI, Aitken served as legislative and policy lead for issues at the federal level. Specifically, he led AUVSI’s advocacy efforts regarding the House and Senate versions of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization and associated appropriation measures. He also has experience working with the FAA on UAS-related matters, including his involvement with Aviation Rulemaking Committees and his appointment to the Drone Advisory Committee’s Subcommittee.
Aitken began his professional career as a legislative assistant to former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., when he developed policy initiatives for the congressman’s work on the House Committee on Science and Technology. He also managed issues related to legislation on appropriations, energy, transportation, education, environment and other portfolios.
Aitken then became director of U.S. operations at Ansaldo Fuel Cells and, subsequently, manager of communications and public affairs for what was formerly known as Finmeccanica North America, now Leonardo, an Italian technology company. In 2011, Aitken returned to Capitol Hill in the office of Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., where he served as legislative director, among other positions. In this role, he helped create a partnership proposal that resulted in multistate cooperation for securing FAA selection of one of six national drone test sites. Aitken also oversaw Rep. LoBiondo’s seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, including his chairmanship of the Aviation Subcommittee. Aitken received his B.A. from the University of Baltimore.
“With his extensive background in the policy and regulatory issues affecting the UAS industry, Mark will be a great addition to our acclaimed communications practice,” states Hal S. Shapiro, chair of Akin Gump’s regulatory practice steering committee. “He’ll join Jennifer Richter and others in creating a formidable team for clients in the UAS and broader unmanned systems space, and I am delighted to welcome him to Akin Gump.”