LEXINGTON, Ky. (October 27, 2021) – Linda Rutherford, Executive Vice President of People & Communications for Southwest Airlines, will deliver the 2021 James C. Bowling Executive-in-Residence, titled “Taking Corporate America to Task: Activism in the Workplace,” at 6:00 pm on Thursday, November 9 . 4, at the Gatton Student Center Worsham Cinema at the University of Kentucky. It’s the 22nd anniversary of the Bowling Lecture Series.
The program, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the UK Department for Integrated Strategic Communication and the College of Communication and Information.
Rutherford is communications director for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest airline in terms of domestic customer boardings. In her role, she oversees communication and awareness; culture and engagement; diversity, equity and inclusion; people (human resources); and Southwest Airlines University, which is the company’s employee development and training function. Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1992, she was a reporter in the Dallas area, including working for the Dallas Times Herald, and began her career with Newsweek magazine in New York City.
A Texas Tech University alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Rutherford describes himself as having “a passion for education” and has shared his experience with today’s youth by serving as an assistant instructor for premier classes. cycle at universities across the country. Considered an expert in her field, she is also the author of a chapter in “Mastering Business for Strategic Communicators” (2017) and provided the foreword to “Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators” (2020).
Rutherford is known for her participation in professional organizations and for having served on advisory boards. She has dedicated her time to organizations such as: The Make-A-Wish Foundation (current board member); Arthur W. Page Society (current director and co-chair of the Member Opinions Subcommittee); Texas Tech University President’s Research Committee (2016); Texas Tech College of Media & Communication National Advisory Board (current member); and the Board of Directors of the Institute of Public Relations (current director and past president).
Some of her recognitions for leadership excellence and accomplishments in communications and civic engagement include: 2017 Citizen of the Year, Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce; Businesswoman of the Year 2016 from the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce; Public relations week 2016 named one of 36 female public relations champions; 2012 inducted into the PR News Measurement Hall of Fame; 2009 inducted into the Texas Tech College of Mass Communications Hall of Fame; and inducted into the 2008 PR News Public Relations Hall of Fame.
“We are delighted to welcome Linda Rutherford to the UK,” said Chike Anyaegbunam, Chairman of the Department of Integrated Strategic Communications. “Her experience as a public relations trainer, her training and stint as a journalist, as well as her extensive industry expertise in strategic corporate communications, position her as a particularly suitable speaker for the James C. Bowling Executive-in-Residence 2021. “
Anyaegbunam added that “students and faculty will learn a lot from her about the practice of corporate public relations given her long list of extraordinary achievements in the profession.”
In addition to honoring the resident bowling teacher, the series names an annual recipient for excellence in public relations. The 2021 recipient is Susan Straub, longtime director of communications for the Lexington Mayor’s Office.
Straub serves her fourth mayor of Lexington as director of communications, a job she began in 1992 under the administration of Mayor Pam Miller. To date, she has served as Director of Communications for Jim Newberry, Jim Gray and, currently, Mayor Linda Gorton. She graduated from the College of Communication and Information Journalism; in 2018, the UK named Straub a Distinguished Alumnus of the School of Journalism and Media.
The Bowling Executive-in-Residence program started in 2000 and brings nationally recognized public relations practitioners to the UK not only to deliver a speech, but also to meet students interested in public relations careers. The program includes the executive visit in residence, the award for excellence in public relations and a scholarship for a major in integrated strategic communication with a focus on public relations. The recipient of the 2021 scholarship will be announced at the conference.
The series pays tribute to James C. Bowling, the retired former deputy chairman of Philip Morris Companies Inc. He frequented the UK and then served the university as a member of the UK Development Council. In addition to serving on several national boards, Bowling has also worked with the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, UK Gatton College of Business and Economics and UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.