Obama nominates James to become Air Force secretary Published Aug. 2, 2013 American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- President Barack Obama announced Aug. 1 that Deborah Lee James is his choice to become the next Secretary of the Air Force. "Deborah's strong record of public service and leadership in the private sector makes her uniquely qualified to be my nominee for Secretary of the Air Force," Obama said in a White House news release. "I look forward to working with her to keep our Air Force the very best in the world and to keep faith with our extraordinary Air Force personnel and their families." If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Lee will succeed previous Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, who served as Air Force's top civilian for the past five years. Donley retired June 21 after 35 years of public service. Eric Fanning, undersecretary of the Air Force, is serving as acting Air Force Secretary until Donley's replacement is confirmed. James is president of the technology and engineering sector at Science Applications International Corporation, a position she has held since 2013. From 2004 to 2013, she was the senior vice president of the C4IT Business Unit and then the executive vice president of communications and government affairs at SAIC. From 2000 to 2001, James was the executive vice president and chief operating officer at Business Executives for National Security. From 1998 to 2000, she was the vice president with the international operations and marketing division at United Technologies. From 1993 to 1998, James served as the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs at the Department of Defense. She began her career in national security as a professional staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives on the House Armed Services Committee from 1983 to 1993. James is currently a committee member of the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, an Advisory Board Member of the Women in Military Service Memorial Foundation's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Campaign, and an advisory board member of The Citadel School of Engineering. James received a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Columbia University.