Vail Resorts hires former Obama White House staffer as its first chief public affairs officer
Vail Resorts announced Thursday that Kenny Thompson, Jr. would join the company as its first chief public affairs officer, a newly created role in which Thompson will oversee government relations, community relations, communications, sustainability and the company’s social responsibility platform, EpicPromise.
“Kenny shares our company’s values, including Do Good, Do Right and Be Inclusive, and has a proven track record of fostering strong public-private partnerships to advance important work,” said CEO Kirsten Lynch in a company news release. “I am excited to welcome him to the team and value his expertise and passion for social impact, corporate responsibility, sustainability and advocacy.”
Thompson brings two decades of public affairs experience to Vail Resorts, including four years with the Obama White House, where he served as director of message events for Vice President Joe Biden, senior advisor to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and special assistant and advance lead for President Barack Obama.
For the past nine years, Thompson has worked in external affairs for PepsiCo, in Washington D.C., most recently as the company’s Vice President of External Affairs focused on stakeholder engagement. Through the pandemic, he led a $7 million community partnership program that spanned 15 U.S. cities to support health-related needs and economic revival programs.
In 2020, Thompson was selected to serve on the Biden-Harris transition team as the private sector liaison where he provided strategic and management oversight of the interaction with the private sector.
“I am thrilled to be joining Vail Resorts during such an important moment in the company’s history,” Thompson said in the news release. “More now than ever, corporations are having a meaningful impact on their communities and society in general. I am inspired by the important work Vail Resorts is doing through its bold programs like EpicPromise, Commitment to Zero and the Epic for Everyone youth access initiative. I look forward to partnering with communities to amplify programs like these as well as identify and drive forward other shared goals.”
Currently, Thompson serves on the Board of Trustees at Texas Christian University and the Board of Advisors at the Georgetown Institute of Politics. In 2021, Thompson was appointed by President Biden to serve as a commissioner on the President’s Commission of White House Fellowships. In 2022, he was awarded the Washington Business Journal’s Diversity in Business award.
“Everyone who lives, works and plays in the mountains has shared goals, whether it be building great communities, pursuing sustainable tourism, being good stewards of the environment, investing in affordable housing, creating a more inclusive sport, fighting climate change, or expanding access to mental health services,” Lynch said. “With a focus on collaboration and partnership, this new role and function will ensure a proactive and integrated approach to championing these bold goals and fostering strong partnerships in our communities.”
Thompson will join Vail Resorts on Dec. 5, 2022, and serve on the company’s executive team reporting to Lynch.
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