Southwest Airlines Announces Leadership Promotions

Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) yesterday announced recent Leadership updates across the Company. These changes are effective immediately and represent a continuation of the organizational structure work that began in September 2022 and has continued into 2023.

Total Rewards

  • Lori Winters has been promoted from Managing Director Culture & Employee Experience to Vice President Total Rewards, overseeing Southwest’s Compensation, Retirement, Labor, Benefits, Travel, and Perks strategy. 

Winters’ Southwest® career began in 2006 as Customer Support & Services Strategy and Projects Director. She developed several new capabilities for the Company, including Change Leadership, Employee Experience, and Employee Insights, and worked on various large-scale projects during her tenure. Most recently, as Managing Director Culture & Employee Experience, Winters led the Employee Experience Strategy and Delivery, Employee Insights, Awards & Recognition, and Culture & Engagement Teams. Winters has a bachelor’s degree in education from Baylor University and a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of North Texas. Lori is stepping into the role previously held by former Vice President Total Rewards, Danny Collins. 

Fleet Management

  • Jon Stephens has been promoted from Managing Director Fleet Management to Vice President Fleet Management and provides strategic direction and oversight of the management of the Southwest Airlines® Fleet Plan.

Stephens has been with Southwest for 24 years. Throughout his 12 years with the Fleet Team, he’s led Southwest’s aircraft and engine fleet strategy. Stephens played an integral role in building the Fleet Team, beginning in 2012, which now supports a fleet of over 800 Boeing 737 aircraft. He started his Southwest career in the Tax Department before moving into a Leadership role on the Financial Planning & Analysis Team in 2001, followed by the Fleet Transactions Team 11 years later. Prior to Southwest, Stephens held various positions in leadership and operations with Union Pacific Railroad. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Network Planning, Network Operations Planning, & Network Operations Control (NOC)

  • Steve West has been promoted from Managing Director Operations Control to Vice President Network Operations Control (NOC), where he’ll focus on day-of operations and support Southwest’s safe and efficient flying schedule.

Throughout West’s 40-year Southwest career, with more than 20 years in a Leadership role, he’s been responsible for the daily oversight of the NOC, ensuring a safe, compliant operation of more than 4,300 daily flights to 121 destinations. West began his Southwest career in 1983 as a Ground Ops Employee in Phoenix. Ten years later, in July 1993, his career in the NOC started as a Flight Dispatcher, then Chief Dispatcher in 2001, and Director Flight Dispatch in 2005. West continued to provide strong Leadership within the NOC as Senior Director Operations Coordination Center in 2006, Network Director in 2014, and Managing Director in 2015. West holds an FAA-Licensed Aircraft Dispatch Certificate. The Vice President NOC role became open with Matt Hafner’s retirement and move to an Executive Advisor role. 

  • Brook Sorem has been promoted from Managing Director Schedule Planning to Vice President Network Planning, where he’s responsible for Network Planning, schedule creation, capacity planning, and airline partnerships.

Since joining Southwest Airlines in 1990, Sorem has spent more than 30 years in Network Planning, supporting every function within the department to create and refine innovative solutions that address complex industry challenges. Sorem has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance from the University of Texas at Arlington. 

  • Matt Muehleisen has been promoted from Managing Director Network Planning Initiatives to Vice President Network Operations Planning, and he’s responsible for ensuring that the plans received by the NOC are fully executable and allow the day-of Team to remain focused on the operation. Muehleisen leads the newly-formed Network Operations Planning Team, establishing a near-term planning function and continuing its strong focus on supporting and enhancing operational performance and Safety.

Muehleisen joined Southwest in 2001 in the Schedule & Network Planning organization. His previous roles at Southwest include Future & Current Schedules, Schedule Design, Optimization, Operations Planning, and Network Initiatives. Muehleisen led the Network Initiatives Team within Network Planning as they worked to develop and implement industry-leading Network Planning software in partnership with Amadeus. He has a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Oklahoma State University and is a commercial rated pilot.  

“Strong Leadership is built upon serving, and Southwest Airlines boasts a longstanding tradition of remarkable Leaders who consistently prioritize the needs of our Employees and Customers over their own,” said Bob Jordan, President & CEO at Southwest Airlines. “I extend my sincere appreciation to Matt Hafner for his 35 years of service at Southwest Airlines. I’m also thankful to Lori, Steve, Jon, Brook, and Matt for assuming crucial roles that significantly contribute to our ongoing success.”