Barbara M. Barrett, as the 25th Secretary of the Air Force, leads the Department of the Air Force, comprised of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. She is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping Air and Space Forces and for the welfare of 697,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian Airmen and Guardians and their families. As the Department’s senior leader overseeing an annual budget of more than $205 billion, Secretary Barrett directs strategy, policy, acquisitions, technology, personnel, and risk management. She implements decisions of the President and Congress and fulfills Combatant Commanders’ operational requirements.
Previously, Secretary Barrett led business, government, and academic enterprises. She was an executive of two global Fortune 500 companies, CEO of the American Management Association, and CEO of a hotel. Her leadership roles included U.S. Ambassador to Finland, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and Vice Chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board. She taught leadership as a Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School and was President of Thunderbird School of Global Management.
She was a strategic leader of companies and organizations focused on space, aeronautics, science, defense, and diplomacy. Immediately prior to her current role, Secretary Barrett served four-terms as Chairman of the Board of The Aerospace Corporation and was on the boards of RAND and California Institute of Technology, which operates the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Previously, she was Chairman of Valley Bank of Arizona and on boards including Exponent Corporation, Raytheon, Mayo Clinic, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Space Foundation, and the Smithsonian. She was a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and the Defense Business Board. In diplomacy, she chaired the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, U.S. Commerce Secretary’s biennial Export Conference, and State Department’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group. She was a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, a member of the U.S.–Afghan Women's Council, and President of the International Women’s Forum.
She is an instrument-rated pilot and was trained and certified for space flight. Additionally, she is a cattle and bison rancher.
Secretary Barrett earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees at Arizona State University.
1972 Bachelor of Science, Liberal Arts, Arizona State University, Tempe
1975 Master of Public Administration, International Business, Arizona State University, Tempe
1978 Juris Doctor, Arizona State University, Tempe
1. 1976–1980, Attorney, Greyhound Corporation, Phoenix, Az.
2. 1980–1982, Associate General Counsel, Assistant Secretary, Southwest Forest Industries, Phoenix, Az.
3. 1982–1985, Vice Chairman, U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board, Washington, D.C.
4. 1985–1988, 1989–1990, Partner, Evans, Kitchel and Jenckes, Phoenix, Az.
5. 1988–1989, Deputy Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C.
6. 1990–1998, Attorney, Private Law Practice, Phoenix, Az.
7. 1994–2019, CEO, Triple Creek Guest Ranch, Darby, Mt.
8. 1997–1998, CEO, American Management Association, New York, Ny.
9. 1999, Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Ma.
10. 2006, Senior Advisor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, New York, Ny.
11. 2008–2009, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, U.S. Department of State, Helsinki.
12. 2012, Interim President, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Glendale, Az.
13. 2013–2017, Chairman of the Board, the Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, Ca.
14. 2019–present, Secretary of the Air Force, the Pentagon, Arlington, Va.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Medal for Exceptional Public Service, Secretary of Defense
Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame Inductee
Leadership in the Nation’s Interest Award, Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board
Sandra Day O’Connor Board Excellence Award, Direct Women – a project of the American Bar Association
Horatio Alger Distinguished Americans Award, Horatio Alger Association
Diplomatic Leadership Award, Sister Cities International
Honorary Doctorate, Arizona State University
Honorary Doctorate, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Honorary Doctorate, Finlandia University
Honorary Doctorate, Pepperdine University
Honorary Doctorate, Thunderbird School of Global Management
Honorary Doctorate, University of South Carolina
(Current as of January 2021)