James T.
Chief Communications Officer and Executive in Residence, African Leadership University

Jim Olson is chief communications officer and executive in residence for the African Leadership University. For more than two decades, Jim has worked at the intersection of communications and innovation for some of the world's most forward-thinking and respected companies. He most recently was president of Hangar 6 Strategic Storytelling, LLC; chief communications officer at Steward Health Care; and before that led internal and external communications at United Airlines as SVP of Corporate Communications.

Previously Jim served as vice president of global corporate communications at Starbucks Coffee Company, where he led the company's reputation-elevating corporate news agenda and brand protection capability. Additionally, he architected Starbucks' next-generation digital news and employee storytelling platform, as well as orchestrated public affairs for the company's Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions.

Prior to Starbucks, he was vice president of corporate communications at US Airways where he led the airline's internal, external and crisis communications functions, which included managing the response to the 2009 Hudson River emergency water landing of Flight 1549. He spent most of the first decade of his career in the automotive industry, including seven years as a strategic communications and digital media consultant to Nissan North America.

His corporate communications, digital media and advertising experience also includes Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, TBWA Chiat/ Day, Porter Novelli and Overture, the search marketing subsidiary of Yahoo!  Jim started his career working with Apple and J.D. Power and Associates.

He earned his MBA from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Syracuse University. Jim was also awarded a certificate in airline disaster communications management from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

Over the course of his career, Jim and the public relations teams he has led have been recognized with numerous honors. He has also served on several boards, including the LAGRANT Foundation.

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