David Neeleman, Founder of JetBlue Airlines – Career without a Degree

David Neeleman was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and raised in the United States, to a family of Dutch and North American descent. He lived in Brazil until he was five. He attended Brighton High School in Utah, and attended the University of Utah for three years before dropping out.

Co-founded Morris Air

He co-founded Morris Air, a low-fare charter airline.  He was executive vice president of the company from 1984 to 1988. Neeleman assumed the helm of Morris Air as its president in 1988. Then when Morris Air was acquired by Southwest Airlines for $130 million in 1993, he worked on their Executive Planning Committee.

Founder of JetBlue Airways Corporation

Mr. David Neeleman is the Founder, Non-Executive Chairman, and Member of Special Stock Option Committee of JetBlue Airways Corporation. He joined the firm in August 1998.

Donated 2002 Salary to Crewmembers

As the CEO of JetBlue Airways, his 2002 salary was $200,000 with a bonus of $90,000. Neeleman donated his entire salary to the JetBlue Crewmember Crisis Fund, which was established for JetBlue employees who fall on hard times.


Neeleman lives with his wife Vicki in New Canaan, Connecticut. They are the parents of nine children. In 2000, he disclosed to CNN that he has adult attention-deficit disorder.  He is the 2005 recipient of the Tony Jannus award of outstanding leadership in the commercial aviation industry.  He speaks fluent Portuguese and holds both U.S. and Brazilian citizenship.

- Doesn’t matter your background to be a success

- You can do more than one great thing in your lifetime

- A charitable mind brings success



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