Linda Rutherford, chief administration and communications officer at Southwest Airlines, joins IABC Executive Director Peter Finn PodCatalyst to talk about her 30+ years with the company and the changes she’s seen in the field along the way.
After a pivot from journalism, Rutherford grew her PR career and climbed the ranks to where she is today. Tune in to learn how she’s watched tech become a disruptor in the field, helped lead Southwest’s years-long, intentional approach to creating a more inclusive culture, a closer look at how her team manages ESG, lessons learned from the 2022 holiday flight delays, her take on a watchful approach to artificial intelligence and more.
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Linda Rutherford is known for creating and leading powerful teams that deliver award-winning communication for one of the most beloved brands in the world. Rutherford is the Chief Administration and Communications Officer for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest airline in terms of domestic Customer boardings. In her role, she provides executive leadership for Communication & Outreach, Culture & Engagement, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Internal Audit, People (Human Resources), Talent and Leadership Development, Total Rewards, Technology, and the Southwest Airlines University. Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1992, she was a journalist in the Dallas area, including working for the Dallas Times Herald, and she began her career with Newsweek magazine in New York.
Linda has a passion for education. She has shared her experience with today's youth by serving as an adjunct instructor for undergraduate courses at universities throughout the country. Regarded as an expert in her field, she also authored a chapter in “Mastering Business for Strategic Communicators” (released December 2017) and provided the “Foreword for Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators” (2020), and “Culture Built my Brand” (2021).
Linda believes in giving back to the community and does so through her participation in professional organizations and through service on advisory boards. She has dedicated her time to countless organizations including: The Make-A-Wish Foundation (current board member); Arthur W. Page Society (current Trustee and co-chair of the Belong and Connect Subcommittee); Texas Tech University President's Search Committee (2016); Texas Tech College of Media & Communications National Advisory Board (current member); and Institute for Public Relations Board of Trustees (current Trustee and past chair).
Linda has been honored for her leadership excellence and her achievements in communications and civic involvement. Some of her recognitions include: 2022 Top Women in Business, National's Women's Conference; 2021 Distinguished Alumni, Texas Tech Alumni Association; 2017 Citizen of the Year, Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce; 2016 Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce Business Woman of the Year; 2016 PR Week named one of 36 Women Champions of PR; 2012 inductee into the PR News Measurement Hall of Fame; 2009 inductee in to the Texas Tech College of Mass Communications Hall of Fame; and 2008 inductee into PR News' Public Relations Hall of Fame.
Linda graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She is married to Michael, and together they are proud parents to Allison (22), a graduate student of public health at Tulane University; and Matthew (25), a graduate of Rice University who works as a partnership marketing coordinator at a sports marketing agency in Houston. In her spare time, she and her husband enjoy tending to their community garden plots and traveling.