jill kermesJill Kermes, an agency vet who moved to SeaWorld Entertainment in 2013, has been named chief corporate affairs officer of the embattled theme park operator.

“Jill has been instrumental in building out the company’s corporate affairs department and overseeing the evolution of our company’s reputational efforts,” said president and CEO Joel Manby.

On the agency side she was a senior VP at Ketchum and managing director of Public Strategies. She was also VP of corporate and brand communications for Volkswagen Group of America and communications director for Gov. Jeb Bush in the early 2000s.

Kermes' promotion is effective June 20.

SeaWorld VP of communications Fred Jacobs stepped down last December as the company tackled continued fallout from the documentary "Blackfish" and calls for reform of its treatment of captive animals. 

Manby said he will lean on Kermes' counsel as the company works to "execute on our future plans and increase our advocacy efforts for animals in the wild – in our parks, with our guests and through engagement with policymakers, conservation groups and other constituencies."