Gary C. Kelly

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Southwest Airlines

Gary C. Kelly

Gary C. Kelly serves as the chairman of the board and chief executive officer at Southwest Airlines. During Kelly’s tenure, Southwest has grown to become the nation’s largest airline in terms of originating domestic passengers carried.

Kelly 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. In 2008, Kelly assumed the roles of chairman and president. Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1986, he was a CPA for Arthur Young & Company in Dallas and Controller for Systems Center, Inc.

Kelly has received numerous awards and recognitions over the years, including the 2017 Wings Club Distinguished Achievement Award.  He is also a 2017 Junior Achievement Dallas Business Hall of Fame Laureate inductee, a 2016 inductee into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, and the recipient of the 2016 Tony Jannus Award. Kelly has twice been named D CEO magazine’s CEO of the Year and has been named one of the best CEOs in America by Institutional Investor magazine three times. In 2010, he was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2013, Kelly was inducted into the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame at the University of Texas at Austin and received the 2013 McLane Leadership in Business Award at Texas A&M University.

Kelly received a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. He has served the university in a number of capacities, including on the McCombs School Advisory Council. Kelly is a Certified Public Accountant and serves on the board of directors of Airlines for America, an industry association (serving as Chairman from 2012-2014).  Kelly is also on the board of regents for the National Air and Space Museum and is a current member of the Business Council and the Southwestern Medical Foundation Board of Trustees.