Those who work in community outreach are a unique breed, equipped with both people skills and a high level of cultural competency. They are primarily responsible for connecting with people in the broader community by creating sponsorship agreements and facilitating relationships with businesses, individuals and other relevant organizations.

 

As the newest member of the Southwest Airlines family, Kayla Valencia currently serves as the company’s Community Outreach Regional Manager, where she is tasked with positioning Southwest Airlines as a leading corporate citizen by empowering communities to thrive through strategic investments. “I have the pleasure of managing the nonprofit and chamber of commerce partners in California and the Pacific Northwest, and it has been such a treat to support the impactful work they do, especially in my own home state,” Kayla shared with GB Magazine. In her new role, she is most looking forward to being an engaged partner to the nonprofits and chambers of commerce that Southwest Airlines supports. There is a lot of opportunity to cross-collaborate across communities and amplify their work to broader audiences. She notes, “I am fortunate to be able to give back to the communities we live and work in with localized approaches and a people-first attitude.”

Kayla’s passion for the airline dates back to her teenage years. “I grew up in a Southwest-loving family, so I have an album on my phone with a ton of window pictures with the Southwest airplane wings going back to high school,” she says. Following her high school graduation, Kayla attended Northwestern University and earned her B.A. in Communication Studies and certificates in Civic Engagement and Integrated Marketing Communications. She was also on the Partnerships Team at an economic development organization in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With prior experience in operations and business development, Kayla has helped various small businesses and startups in the logistical, legal, financial, marketing and sales spheres.

“As a leader focused on strategy and communication, I love to problem-solve creatively, communicate those solutions in an effective way, and put those solutions into action, especially to the benefit of others,” she says. Kayla is also a big believer in leading from behind and is inspired by the ability to teach or support others. More importantly, she adds that it is the people who propel Southwest’s partner organizations forward and have continuously demonstrated the power behind serving and supporting others that inspire her every day.

In addition to her promising career, Kayla has been participating in an event called Walk MS that raises money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society since 2017. This past year alone, she raised over $10K and rallied a team of 15 to participate in the first in-person event since 2019. “It was such an amazing showing of support for my mother who was diagnosed in 2013,” she says.

When Kayla is not cultivating meaningful partnerships in her new position, she is participating in a variety of outdoor activities, updating her Goodreads account, and taking golf lessons.