DALLAS — Southwest Airlines has promoted CCO Linda Rutherford to executive VP of people & communications, adding DE&I, human resources and culture & engagement to her responsibilities.

A nearly 30-year veteran of Southwest, Rutherford will retain the CCO role she has held since 2016. She also is responsible for Southwest Airlines University, the carrier’s training facility.

Rutherford succeeds incoming CEO Bob Jordan, to whom she will report. Jordan will become the carrier’s chief executive in 2022 when its current CEO, Gary Kelly, will become executive chairman.

Rutherford is credited with helping make Southwest a more agile company, as well as developing its corporate culture. She also has driven employee experience and engagement efforts, CSR and the company’s response to Covid-19. 

Rutherford joined Southwest in 1992 as a PR specialist, subsequently working her way up to the top of the comms function.

"Linda is an innovative Leader who challenges Southwest to continually evolve how we engage and champion our Employees and Communities, and she consistently delivers on our Southwest Purpose, to connect People to what's important in their lives with friendly, reliable and low-cost air travel," Jordan said.