More executive positions were filled at the combined American Airlines-US Airways on Thursday.
US Airways vice president of corporate communications John McDonald will keep his position at the new carrier once the merger closes, which is expected later this year. Cindy Fiedelman, American's vice president of people and diversity, will also remain in her position.
As a result, American's current vice president of corporate communications Andy Backover and US Airways vice president of people Ryan Price will be departing. Both have agreed to stay on during the transition, employees were told in a letter from Elise Eberwein, who will be the executive vice president of people and communications post-merger.
The merger still needs government approval and US Airways shareholders are meeting on Friday to vote on the deal.
Keep reading for the note sent to American managers.
For All American and American Eagle Managers
Subject: Leadership Announcements for People and Communications at the new American
As Doug Parker shared when the senior leadership of the new American was announced a few weeks back, announcements about the next layer of leadership will happen by organization and over the next few weeks.
Today, Elise Eberwein, who will be the new American’s Executive Vice President of People and Communications once the merger closes, announced her leadership team. Cindy Fiedelman will serve as Vice President, People, and John McDonald of US Airways will serve as Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. Ryan Price, US Airways’ VP of People, and Andy Backover, American’s VP of Corporate Communications, will continue to work in transition roles and assist in integrating our two airlines as we build toward merger close.
•The People and Communications departments of the new American will exist to serve the people of our new airline who are serving our customers day in and day out, with transparent two-way communication as the cornerstone.
•As Vice President – People, Cindy will oversee and lead all engagement initiatives, recruitment, learning and talent development, HR operations support, international, and diversity. She also will serve as integration lead for the People Department and work with a core team of leaders who will manage integration for all HR-related policies and programs.
◦Reporting directly to Cindy to support these initiatives will be American’s Carlos Hernandez, Tricia Herschell, Tommy Tompkins, Mike Waldron, Beth Van Zant, Marc Fogel, Laura Tolar, and Laura Dove.
•And, many of American’s current leaders will continue to serve as Managing Directors reporting directly to Elise:
◦Mary Anderson – Benefits
◦Chris Ducey – HR Delivery
◦Mary Kay Gribbons – Compensation
•Elise is also working with Steve Johnson, who will become Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs when the merger closes, to determine the structure of the labor relations function. More information will be shared in the weeks ahead.
Communications and Public Affairs
· As Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, John McDonald will oversee and lead all internal and external global communications, social media, and community relations activities. John currently serves as VP of Corporate Communications for US. In the weeks and months ahead, he and Elise will work to assess the new airline’s communications needs and re-organize the department to meet those needs as we get closer to close.
· In addition, John will continue to lead the corporate communications integration team and work with Andy Backover to combine the communication departments of both companies, including the in-flight magazines and community relations programs.
And here is a letter from Elise Eberwein to employees
Dear People & Communications Teams:
We are beginning to announce department leaders for the new American and as part of those announcements, I want to share my thinking around the HR and Communication functions for new American.
I have worked with many of you over the years, while others I have only met in the last several months; however, all of you are potentially going to be part of a new dynamic team that will support the people of the world’s largest airline. As I relayed when I spoke to all of you shortly after Doug announced the senior leadership team, creating a People/Communications department that exists to serve the people of our new airline (who are serving our customers day in and day out) is, quite simply, a noble mission. As we build this new department, there is ample opportunity before us to connect with our co-workers, build programs that support their needs, and foster a culture of servant leadership. And we get to do all of this with open and transparent two-way communication as the cornerstone. I couldn’t be more excited to get started, which is why today’s announcement is so important.
As I set to name leaders within HR and Communications, I have carefully considered leaders from both legacy organizations. This has included several intensive weeks of getting to know my new American colleagues and learn about their capabilities and interests, as well as discussions with the current US Airways team. The process of building this team was focused on capability, interest, fit, and the needs of the new organization.
With this, I have asked Cindy Fiedelman to serve as Vice President, People and John McDonald to serve as Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. While there are strong leaders at both American and US Airways, I believe Cindy and John are the right leaders as we enter this next chapter of integration and build a new People Department. The HR department structure will also change upon close with the following managing directors reporting directly to me: Mary Anderson with responsibility for all Benefits, Chris Ducey who will oversee HR Delivery, and Mary Kay Gribbons as MD Compensation. Ryan Price will work in an interim transition role while Erin Goebel, Alison Smith, Cari Ulrich, Sam Wolo and Rebecca Roder continue to report to him.
Cindy will oversee and lead all engagement initiatives, recruitment, learning and talent development, HR operations support, international, and diversity. She also will serve as integration lead for the People Department and work with a core team of leaders who will manage integration for all HR-related policies and programs. Reporting directly to Cindy will be Carlos Hernandez, Tricia Herschell, Tommy Tompkins, Michael Waldron, Marc Fogel, Laura Tolar and Laura Dove. I am working with Steve Johnson to determine the structure of the labor relations function, and we will have more information around how Steve plans to structure that organization in the weeks ahead. As mentioned above, Tricia Herschell will remain part of the HR organization, as will Beth Van Zant who is responsible for HR policy.
Within the communication and community affairs organization, John will oversee and lead all internal and external global communications, social media, and community relations activities. John also will continue to lead an integration team and work with Andy Backover to combine the communication departments of both companies, including the in-flight magazines and community relations programs. In addition, John and I will be working to assess the new company’s communications needs and will re-organize the department to meet those needs as we get closer to close.
This announcement is an overview of my thinking around organizing the new People Department; however, it is not end-state and will evolve over time. I am leaving this somewhat open-ended because I want the opportunity to work with the US Airways and American leaders and exchange ideas around both the work that lies ahead as well as determine where their interests lie.
It is fitting to take a moment to give proper kudos to Andy Backover and Ryan Price who have both indicated they are more than happy to help with the transition work but ready to go take on a different challenge outside the company. These are two tremendous professionals who have served American and US Airways, respectively, extremely well. I count both of them as trusted colleagues and excellent leaders. As is the case with any merger, it is unfortunate that all team leaders won’t have a place in the new organization; however, I thank Andy and Ryan for their leadership and professionalism as we transition to a new team that will lead the future American Airlines.
The structure I am outlining today will not go into effect until merger close this fall. In the meantime, there is a lot of work to be done as these named leaders continue to drive integration planning. Once we close this fall, our mission to make life easier for our 100,000 co-workers will begin in earnest. We have a lot to look forward to, and much to get done so please join me in congratulating Cindy and John. I look forward to working with all of you as we build a fantastic People and Communication team to support the new American.