A Roundup of Dallas Innovators You Need to Know Today—and Why

Here are people from American Airlines, Comerica, and Service King who are making moves.

Across North Texas, companies are promoting and hiring people to take on leadership positions within their organizations.

Dallas Innovates covers prominent personnel moves in Dallas-Fort Worth from startups to big-name corporations. Here are six people you need to know right now—and why.

American Airlines announces new senior leadership

From top left: Priya Aiyar, Cole Brown, Ron DeFeo, Nate Gatten, Stephen Johnson, Derek Kerr, Maya Leibman, Vasu Raja, and David Seymour [Photos: American Airlines]

On the heels of naming current President Robert Isom as its new CEO, Fort Worth-based American Airlines Group Inc. has unveiled the senior leadership team that will support Isom when his appointment goes into effect on March 31, 2022.

Last week, American CEO Doug Parker announced he was retiring from his position after a 35-year career. Isom, who has more than three decades of industry experience, was named his successor.

Now American is making additional leadership moves to support the transition.

“These executives are all extremely capable and experienced leaders, and together, they form an unstoppable team. This team possesses deep intellectual and technical expertise and truly takes the ethos of servant leadership to heart,” Isom said in a statement. “Importantly, we are all aligned around the importance welcoming our customers back to an incredibly reliable airline and returning American to profitability as soon as possible.”

Current Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr will also take on the role of vice chair, a position that oversees all corporate financial functions, global corporate risk, and corporate development. He will additionally continue as president of American Eagle, overseeing operations for the regional network responsible for around half of American’s departures.

Steve Johnson, the executive vice president of corporate affairs, has been named executive vice president and strategic advisor to the CEO, the leadership team, and the board of directors. In his new strategic advisory role, Johnson will focus on strategy development, economics and competition issues, corporate governance and ESG, and corporate development.

Maya Leibman will remain in her position of executive vice president and chief information officer, which she has held since 2015. Leibman will lead all technology efforts for the airline, including its next-gen strategic initiatives. Prior to her role as CIO, Leibman was president of the AAdvantage loyalty program.

Additionally, the following will be joining American’s senior leadership team:

• Priya Aiyar, new senior vice president of corporate affairs and chief legal officer, will lead American’s legal affairs team and legal strategies;
• Cole Brown, who has been senior vice president and chief people officer since June, leads a team responsible for DEI, global talent and recruitment, benefits, and people operations;
• Ron DeFeo, new senior vice president and chief communications officer, who was previously SVP of global engagement;
• Nate Gatten, new SVP of corporate affairs and chief government affairs officer, who will assume oversight of the airline’s properties and corporate real estate portfolios;
• Vasu Raja, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, who oversees the airline’s partnerships, revenue management, sales and marketing, and loyalty program; and
• David Seymour, senior vice president and chief operating officer, who is responsible for operations and is operating teams.

Comerica establishes an Office of Corporate Responsibility

Wendy Bridges [Photo: Comerica Incorporated]

Comerica Incorporated, the Dallas-headquartered financial services company, has formed a new Office of Corporate Responsibility and appointed Wendy Bridges as its lead.

Bridges, the current senior vice president of corporate communications and executive administration, has been appointed to the position of executive vice president and executive director of corporate responsibility. In her new role, Bridges will work to enhance collaboration across the bank, while helping establish its role as a leader in ESG initiatives.

Bridges has been with Comerica since 2008. She will continue her current responsibilities, which include overseeing external affairs, corporate contributions, corporate quality, corporate communications, and executive administration. 

Last year, Comerica established its ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Council to define the most important ESG issues across the company. In August, Comerica released its thirteenth Corporate Responsibility Report related to its ESG performance and established an ESG platform with key commitments.

They include:

1) Providing access to capital focused on underserved communities, women, minorities, and small businesses;
2) Promoting a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce,
3) Investing in financial education for underserved communities;
4) Addressing climate change; and
5) Enhancing ESG-related product and service solutions.

The Office of Corporate Responsibility will centralize these ESG efforts into a single department.

“Corporate Responsibility continues to increase in importance,” said Curt Farmer, Comerica chairman and CEO, in a statement. “Bringing key environmental, social and governance elements together under Wendy’s leadership underscores our dedication to protecting and preserving the environment; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); and serving and strengthening our communities.”

Service King names a new CIO

Jaime Jaramillo [Photo: Service King]

Dallas-based Service King, the national operator of auto body collision repair facilities, has added Jaime Jaramillo to its team as chief information officer to continue making advancements in technology.

According to Service King, the hire will help its positioning to break industry boundaries and “stay ahead of the digital curve.” The company is currently undergoing efforts to extend its digital-first customer experiences, which include 24/7 contactless self-schedule service and advanced analytics that improve the overall production process.

The goal is to create a more streamlined system from beginning to end of the repair process.

Jaramillo has some two decades of experience as a CIO for consumer products companies. He’s previously had stints at PepsiCo, Frito Lay, Borden Dairy, Belcorp, and Varsity Brands, where he held leadership positions in technology and digital transformation.

“Jaime brings an extensive portfolio of experience in the digital space to Service King, and we’re excited for him to join us in living out our mission of ‘building for tomorrow,'” Service King CEO David Cush said in a statement. “He comes at the perfect time as we focus on creating the future of innovation in order to become the most efficient and technologically advanced collision repair operator across the globe.”

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