Southwest Airlines said that Madeleine Johnson, the company's Vice President and General Counsel, has announced her decision to retire, effective Feb. 1, 2013.
Her successor will be Mark Shaw, currently Southwest's Associate General Counsel of Corporate & Transactions.
Ron Ricks, Southwest's Executive Vice President & Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer said, "Madeleine has been a joy to work with, a ferocious protector of Southwest, and someone who has made incredible contributions to the success of our airline in her relatively short tenure."
Under Johnson's leadership, the General Counsel Department dealt with several complex legal cases in addition to intricate business negotiations. Perhaps her most significant victory for the future well-being of the Company was orchestrating the legal work to enable Southwest's acquisition of AirTran Airways, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest.
Johnson joined Southwest in 2008 as the airline's Vice President and General Counsel. She previously served as the Dallas City Attorney, as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Texas, as Chief of the Opinion Division at the Texas Attorney General's office, and as a principal in the law firm of Fish & Richardson. She began her career as a commercial litigator at Thompson & Knight in Dallas, and received her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College and her law degree from Tulane Law School.
A known "travel buff," Johnson said her retirement will allow her to add more stamps to her U.S. Passport. She reports having traveled to 60 countries around the globe, and she is eyeing travel adventures to Dubai, Oman, India, Scandinavia, and the Galapagos. She also said she hopes to volunteer more time with organizations focused on women's business initiatives. While at Southwest, Johnson was named a Texas Corporate Counsel "Superlawyer" in 2010; was selected as one of the top 25 DFW Women in Business by the Dallas Business Journal in 2011; and received the Texas General Counsel Forum Magna Stella Award for General Counsel of the Year in 2011.
Ricks announced that Shaw, 49, has been named to succeed Johnson as Vice President and General Counsel. Shaw joined Southwest in 2000 as an attorney in the General Counsel Department and was promoted in 2008 to his current role as Associate General Counsel of Corporate & Transactions. Prior to Southwest, Shaw worked as an attorney in the Dallas office of the law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his law degree from Loyola University Law School. Shaw also serves on the board of the DFW Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and on the advisory board of the Southern Methodist University Journal of Air Law & Commerce.
"I have great confidence in Mark's abilities and his character as a Leader," Ricks said. "This will be a seamless transition given his history with Southwest and with his colleagues in the General Counsel Department."
As Vice President and General Counsel, Shaw will assume the leadership role providing legal advice to Southwest on all legal matters and running the Company's General Counsel Department. Shaw said: "I look forward to continuing the work of our talented General Counsel group and on building on the many important initiatives and accomplishments of Madeleine Johnson, who has been an outstanding leader and mentor to me during her time at Southwest. I am honored to step into this leadership role."
Johnson said the decision to retire was not taken lightly. "I can imagine no better way to cap a legal career than to have served as General Counsel of Southwest Airlines. I have had the privilege of working with a group of exceptionally talented lawyers, leaders, and some of the most wonderful people I will ever meet. Together, our People have built a powerhouse among corporate legal departments, and I am thrilled to turn the reins over to Mark Shaw. Mark brings experience, talent, humor, and compassion to this position and will be easily embraced by all as a Leader in the Southwest family."The leadership changes will be effective Feb 1, 2013.