Barbara M. Barrett is the 25th Secretary of the Air Force and leads the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, comprising the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. She is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of 685,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families. She oversees the department’s annual budget of more than $205 billion. As Secretary, she directs strategy and policy development, risk management, weapons acquisition, technology investments and human resource management across the global enterprise. As the department’s senior leader, Secretary Barrett implements decisions of the President, Congress and fulfills Combatant Commanders’ operational requirements.
Secretary Barrett has served in senior leadership positions in public service, the private sector and academia. Before she was 30, she was an executive with two global Fortune 500 companies. Secretary Barrett’s key leadership roles include her time as the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and President of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She also taught leadership as a Harvard Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government. Prior to assuming her current position, Secretary Barrett was the Chairman of the Board for the Aerospace Corporation.
She has served as a board member for multiple organizations focused on diplomacy, defense, aeronautics, science and space. She was a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, the Defense Business Board and the U.S.–Afghan Women's Council. She has chaired groups that include the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, the U.S. Commerce Secretary’s biennial Export Conference and the U.S. Department of State’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group.
She is an instrument-rated pilot and was trained and certified for space flight. Additionally, she has been a cattle and bison rancher for close to three decades.
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. 1973–1975, Personnel Director, Yavapai Regional Medical Center, Prescott, Ariz.
2. 1976–1980, Attorney, Greyhound Corporation, Phoenix
3. 1980–1982, Associate General Counsel, Assistant Secretary, Southwest Forest Industries, Phoenix
4. 1982–1985, Vice Chairman, U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board, Washington, D.C.
5. 1985–1988, 1989–1990, Partner, Evans, Kitchel and Jenckes, Phoenix
6. 1988–1989, Deputy Director, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C.
7. 1994–present, Owner and CEO, Triple Creek Guest Ranch, Darby, Mont.
8. 1997–1998, CEO, American Management Association, New York
9. 1999 Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
10. 1999–2001, President, International Women’s Forum, Washington, D.C.
11. 2006 Senior Advisor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, New York
12. 2008–2009, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, U.S. Department of State, Helsinki
13. 2012 Interim President, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Glendale, Ariz.
14. 2013–2017, Chairman of the Board, the Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.
15. 2019–present, Secretary of the Air Force, the Pentagon, Arlington, Va.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Horatio Alger Distinguished Americans Award
The Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service
Sandra Day O’Connor Board Excellence Award from the American Bar Association
Inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame
Committee for Economic Development Leadership in the Nation’s Interest Award
Honorary Doctorate, Arizona State University
Honorary Doctorate, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Honorary Doctorate, Thunderbird School of Global Management
Honorary Doctorate, University of South Carolina
Honorary Doctorate, Pepperdine University
Honorary Doctorate, Finlandia University
(Current as of December 2019)