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American Airlines announces senior leadership team

Christian Fernsby |
Fort Worth, Tx., USA - American Airlines Group announced the senior leadership team that will report to Robert Isom when he becomes CEO on March 31, 2022.

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Current Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr will assume the additional designation of Vice Chair of American Airlines, overseeing all corporate financial functions, global corporate risk and corporate development.

Mr. Kerr will also continue oversight of American Eagle operations, the regional network responsible for approximately half of American’s departures.

Mr. Kerr is Vice Chair, Chief Financial Officer and President, American Eagle.

He has held the title of Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer since December 2013.

Previously, Mr. Kerr served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for US Airways, a role that he began in 2009.

Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of America West Airlines, a role he began in 2002.

Mr. Kerr joined America West in 1996 as Senior Director, Planning, and was promoted to Vice President, Financial Planning and Analysis, in 1998.

In 2002, Mr. Kerr was promoted to Senior Vice President, Finance, adding responsibility for purchasing and fuel administration.

Prior to joining America West, he served in various financial planning and analysis positions with Northwest Airlines.

Steve Johnson will undertake a new strategic advisory role focused on strategy development, economics and competition issues, corporate governance and ESG, and corporate development. In this role he will hold the title of Executive Vice President.

Mr. Johnson is Executive Vice President and strategic advisor to the CEO, the leadership team, and the board of directors.

Since 2009, he has served as Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs, responsible for corporate governance and legal affairs, government and regulatory affairs, labor relations and real estate and airport affairs.

From 2003 until 2009, Mr. Johnson was a partner at Indigo Partners LLC, a private equity firm specializing in investments in the airline industry.

Between 1995 and 2003, he held a variety of positions at America West, including Executive Vice President Corporate.

Prior to that, Mr. Johnson served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at GPA Group PLC and practiced law at the Seattle law firm Bogle and Gates.

Maya Leibman will continue serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, leading all technology efforts for the airline, including the organization’s next generation strategic initiatives.

Ms. Leibman is Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, a position she has held since November 2015.

Previously, Ms. Leibman served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer from January 2012 to November 2015.

Prior to her role as Chief Information Officer, Ms. Leibman was President of the AAdvantage loyalty program from 2010 to 2012.

From 2001 to 2010, she held several positions in the Information Technology department, culminating in the position of Vice President, Business Operations Systems from 2006 to 2010.

Ms. Leibman joined American in 1994 in the Revenue Management department.

In addition, the following individuals will be joining American’s senior leadership team:

Priya Aiyar, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer

Earlier in her career, Mr. Aiyar held other senior legal roles within the federal government and was a partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel PLLC.

Mr. Aiyar began her legal career as a clerk to Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and to Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cole Brown, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer

Ms. Brown is Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer, a position she has held since June 2021.

Previously, Ms. Brown served as a Vice President of Human Resources at Amazon from November 2018 to 2021.

In that role Ms. Brown was Vice President, Human Resources for Amazon’s Devices & Services, Corporate and Business Development, and Advertising & Entertainment business segments.

Prior to this role, she was Amazon’s Vice President of Human Resources for North America Customer Fulfillment.

Before joining Amazon, Ms. Brown served as Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Conifer Health Solutions from 2015 to 2018.

Before that, she held a variety of positions during her time at Walmart from 2002 to 2014, including Chief Diversity Officer and culminating in the position of Senior Vice President of Human Resources.

Prior to joining Walmart in its Legal Department, Ms. Brown practiced as an attorney specializing in the area of employment law and administrative regulations with Bashen Consulting, Wickliff and Hall, P.C. and Doerner, Saunders, Daniel and Anderson, L.L.P.

Ron DeFeo, Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer

Mr. DeFeo is Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer.

Mr. DeFeo most recently was Senior Vice President, Global Engagement for American, a position he has held since October 2018.

Previously, he served as Vice President of Global Communications for American since August 2015.

Prior to joining the airline, Mr. DeFeo served as Senior Vice President of Communications for Darden Restaurants from 2012 to 2015.

Before that, he held various roles of increasing responsibility leading communications teams at The Home Depot from 2003 to 2011.

Before that, Mr. DeFeo worked with Ketchum, a public relations agency.

Nate Gatten, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Government Affairs Officer

Mr. Gatten is Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Government Affairs Officer.

Most recently, Mr. Gatten served as Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs of American, a position he has held since August 2017.

Mr. Gatten will continue to lead American’s federal and international government and regulatory affairs teams, ESG, and corporate security.

Previously, he was Managing Director and Head of Global Government Relations at JPMorgan Chase and Co.

Vasu Raja, Senior Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer

Vasu Raja is Senior Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer, where he oversees American’s global network and has oversight of the airline’s alliances and partnerships, revenue management, sales and marketing organization, and American’s loyalty program, AAdvantage.

Previously, he served as Senior Vice President, Revenue and Senior Vice President, Network Strategy, where he was responsible for network and alliances.

Mr. Raja joined American in 2004 and has held a variety of roles in Sales, Corporate Planning and Revenue Management.

Mr. Raja began his career with Teach for America in 1999 and taught for three years in Baltimore City Public Schools.

David Seymour, Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Seymour is Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer.

Mr. Seymour is responsible for the airline’s operations and its operating teams, including Airport Operations, Flight Operations, Technical Operations, Flight Service, the Integrated Operations Center and Cargo.

Mr. Seymour’s aviation career began at the airline in 1999.

Throughout his career he has held a variety of leadership roles in Technical Operations, Operations Control, Crew Resources and Flight Operations.

Prior to being named Chief Operating Officer in 2020, Mr. Seymour served as Senior Vice President of Operations.

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