DALLAS, Nov. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Ginger C. Hardage, Southwest Airlines Senior Vice President, Culture & Communications, announced her retirement from the carrier, effective Dec. 31, 2015.
As the senior leader overseeing Culture & Communication at Southwest—the nation's largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded—Hardage championed the airline's communication and outreach evolution, including Southwest's Companywide Emergency Response effort, expanding the communication functions to include more robust internal communications capabilities and a social business effort, and a focused corporate philanthropy program. For the past seven years, she also led the airline's Culture Committee, Employee recognition and engagement, and the Companywide celebrations. She was a member of various executive committees and led Southwest's "Best Place to Work" initiative.
"Ginger has been a joy to work with, and she has made countless contributions to Southwest," said Gary Kelly, Southwest's Chairman, President, and CEO. "She has been an invaluable business partner, advisor, and mentor. She brings constant, positive energy and enthusiasm to all those around her, and that is infectious. She has built superb Teams that we are both very proud of, and that I know will continue her special brand of excellence."
"Working for Southwest Airlines truly has been a 'dream job' because of the People of this great airline and the values that drive the Company's Customer-friendly decisions," Hardage said. "The leadership team has grown and transformed the airline while staying true to its Purpose. The future never looked brighter and the Culture and Communication Leaders are ready to soar."
With Hardage's retirement, the airline's Culture team and programs will report to Teresa Laraba, Southwest's Senior Vice President of Customers and Culture. Linda Rutherford, Vice President, Chief Communications Officer, will now report to Southwest Chairman, President, and CEO Gary Kelly and assume responsibility for the Employee Engagement & Travel teams in addition to her leadership of the Communication and Outreach teams.
Hardage joined the airline in December 1990 as the Director of Public Relations and moved to several senior leadership positions before being named the SVP of Culture & Communications in August 2005. Prior to joining Southwest, Hardage worked at Maxus Energy Corporation and its predecessor, Diamond Shamrock Corporation, holding a variety of public relations positions, including director of communications. She began her career in Dallas with Life Insurance Company of the Southwest in marketing communications, immediately following graduation from Texas Tech University.
Hardage has received numerous recognitions for her contributions to the communications profession, including being named to PR Week's "Top 50 Power List" for 2011 through 2014. On Dec. 7, 2015, she will be inducted into PR Week's Public Relations Hall of Fame during a ceremony and awards dinner in New York City. In 2010, Hardage was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Public Relations and one of Texas' Most Powerful and Influential Women. In 2002, under her leadership, the Southwest Team was named the best Corporate PR Team in the nation by PR Week.
Hardage currently serves on the International Board of Trustees for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, is President of the Trinity Commons Foundation and is on the boards of the Arthur Page Society and Trinity Trust. She previously served on advisory boards of Novartis in Basel, Switzerland; Business Civic Leadership Center, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Big Brothers and Sisters of Metropolitan Dallas; Southwest Cares; and the Council of Public Relations Firms. She is a past president of the Dallas Chapter of the International Association of Business Communications; a past member of the Southern Methodist University Public Relations advisory board; and formerly on the Texas Tech Rawls College of Business advisory board. Hardage is an avid public speaker at universities and organizations ranging from Google to Princeton University on topics related to "Building a Brand from the Inside Out."
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SOURCE Southwest Airlines