Laysha Ward. Image credit: PRNewsfoto/United Airlines.
United will benefit from Ward’s more than three decades of corporate leadership experience and expertise in community and stakeholder engagement, corporate responsibility, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In a press release, Executive Chairman Oscar Munoz said that when the company began its search for a new board member “we were focused on finding a leader with both strong business acumen and a unique perspective that will help United capitalize on our strengths as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis."
United has previously stated that it expects 2021 to be a transition year that's focused on preparing for a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which it has called “the most disruptive crisis in aviation history.”
CEO J. Scott Kirby called Ward, "the right addition to our already strong board of directors at a pivotal moment for our company."
Ward is a 30-year Target employee and currently serves as the retail giant’s EVP and Chief External Engagement Officer. Outside of her c-suite role, Ward is on the board of directors of Denny's Corporation, as well as the boards of Greater MSP, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Northside Achievement Zone. She also holds roles on the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Advisory Board and the Stanford Center for Longevity Advisory Council.
Ward said she looks forward to joining the airline’s board and “helping the company fulfill its purpose of connecting people and uniting the world."
Her external engagement expertise could become invaluable to United as it attempts to draw back weary enterprise and clients and consumers who have avoided air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company also hired a new top sales executive in January 2021, to help build new corporate partnerships and drive overall revenue after the company posted a $7.7 billion adjusted net loss in 2020.