Douglas M. Steenland is president and chief executive officer of Northwest Airlines (NYSE: NWA). He was named CEO on October 1, 2004, and has served as the airline's president since April 2001.In his role as the president and chief executive officer, Steenland oversees the formulation and execution of the airline's goals, objectives, and long-term strategic plans.
Since becoming CEO, Steenland has successfully led the airline through the most difficult period in its history. He oversaw the most successful restructuring in the airline industry, reshaping Northwest Airlines into a financially viable airline by reducing operating costs and restructuring its balance sheet while ensuring that its 30,000 employees remained focused on customer service.
As a result, creditors received a substantial recovery on their bankruptcy claims and employees received $1.0 billion in distributions. Steenland also led the successful effort to enact new pension legislation, thus saving the hard-earned pensions of Northwest employees and retirees.
Steenland joined Northwest in 1991 as vice president and deputy general counsel.Between 1994 and 1999, he was a senior vice president and general counsel, and following that, he served as the airline's executive vice president and chief corporate officer.
Before joining Northwest, Steenland worked as a senior partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand (now part of Piper Rudnick, Washington, D.C.) and handled matters related to transportation, corporate law, telecommunications, government relations, and insurance. He also has served in the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Steenland holds a bachelor of arts in history from Michigan's Calvin College and a juris doctor (with highest honors) from the National Law Center at George Washington University.