President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Gary Kelly

Chairman, President and CEO, Southwest Airlines

Gary Kelly

Gary Kelly serves as the Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer at Southwest Airlines.  A 24-year Southwest veteran who became CFO in 1989, Gary has worked closely with Southwest's legendary Cofounder and Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher and President Emeritus Colleen Barrett to build the nation's largest airline in terms of passengers—and the undisputed Low-Fare Leader.  

Gary began his career at Southwest Airlines as Controller, moving up to Chief Financial Officer and Vice President Finance, then Executive Vice President and CFO, before being promoted to CEO and Vice Chairman in July 2004.  Gary assumed the role of Chairman in May 2008 and President in July 2008.  Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1986, Gary was a CPA for Arthur Young & Company in Dallas and Controller for Systems Center, Inc.

Southwest Airlines is celebrating 38 years of consecutive profitability and was named #1 in Customer Satisfaction by the Department of Transportation for the year 2009.  For the 13th year in a row, Fortune magazine listed Southwest Airlines among the world’s most admired corporations.  Gary has received awards and recognitions, including being named one of Business Travel News’ 25 Most Influential Executives of 2004; named a finalist for Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News editors for the year 2005; honored with the 4th Annual Friends of Texas Public Schools Friend of the Year Award for 2008; named one of the best CEOs in America for 2008, 2009, and 2010 by Institutional Investor magazine; voted Dallas CEO of the Year in 2009 by the Dallas Morning News’ “Top 100 Places to Work”; selected two years in a row as D CEO Magazine’s CEO of the Year for 2009 and 2010; awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award by B’nai B’rith in 2010; honored by the Texas Exes’ with their Distinguished Alumnus Award; and most recently selected as Dallas Business Journal’s CEO of the year for 2011.

Gary received a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin and is a Certified Public Accountant.  He is a member of the Texas Society of CPAs; chairs the McCombs School Advisory Council at the University of Texas at Austin; named to the Lincoln National Corporation’s Board of Directors; and recently named Vice Chairman of the Air Transport Association.