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Academy of Achievement Herbert D Kelleher

Herbert D. Kelleher

Inducted 1992

Herb Kelleher is a Founder of Southwest Airlines Co. and currently serves as its Executive Chairman, a position he has held since March, 1978. From September, 1981 through June, 2001, Kelleher also served as President and CEO of Southwest Airlines.

Southwest commenced service with three airplanes in 1971 and today operates a fleet of more than 370 airplanes performing nearly 2800 flights per day. Kelleher’s Company has been profitable for 30 consecutive years and has never furloughed an Employee. The Fall 2002 edition of MONEY magazine revealed that, during the 30 year period 1972-2002, Southwest produced the highest return to shareholders of any company included in the S&P 500 during that 30-year period: $10,000 invested in Southwest in 1972 was worth $10,200,000 in 2002 (an average increase of 25.99% per year).

In FORTUNE magazine annual surveys, Southwest has consistently been selected as the Most Admired Airline in the world and as one of the Ten Most Admired Companies in the U.S. Kelleher himself has received numerous awards and honors, including the U.S. Chamber Business Leadership Hall of Fame; CEO of the Year, Chief Executive magazine; CEO of the Century, Texas Monthly magazine; National Sales and Marketing Hall of Fame; U.S. Master Entrepreneur, INC. magazine; CEO of the Decade – Airline Industry, Financial World magazine; Wright Bros. Memorial Trophy; Bower Award for Business Leadership, Franklin Institute; Smithsonian Aero Club Trophy; Tony Jannus Award; Wings Club Distinguished Achievement Award; San Diego Aerospace Hall of Fame; and the Business Halls of Fame of the State of Texas, the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and the City of Dallas.

Kelleher graduated with honors from Wesleyan University, where he was an Olin Scholar, and from the NYU Law School, where he was the Root-Tilden Scholar.