Barbara Barrett

Barbara Barrett (née McConnell)[1] is an American businesswoman, attorney, and diplomat serving as the 25th and current United States Secretary of the Air Force. She is also an instrument-rated pilot, and cattle and bison rancher.[2]

Barbara Barrett
25th United States Secretary of the Air Force
Assumed office
October 18, 2019
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyMatthew Donovan
Preceded byHeather Wilson
United States Ambassador to Finland
In office
May 23, 2008  January 16, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byMarilyn Ware
Succeeded byMichael Butler
Personal details
Barbara McConnell

(1950-12-26) December 26, 1950
Indiana County, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Craig Barrett
EducationArizona State University, Tempe (BA, MA, JD)

Barrett is former chair of the Aerospace Corporation and a member on the boards of California Institute of Technology,[3] Jet Propulsion Laboratory, RAND Corporation, Smithsonian Institution, Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, and Lasker Foundation.

On May 21, 2019, President Trump announced he would nominate Barrett as Secretary of the Air Force.[4] Her nomination was confirmed with a 85-7 U.S. Senate vote on October 18, 2019.[5] She was sworn in October 18, 2019.[6]

Early life and education

Barrett earned her Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts, Master of Public Administration in International Business, and Juris Doctor degrees at Arizona State University. Honorary doctorates have been conferred by ASU, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Thunderbird School of Global Management, University of South Carolina, Pepperdine University and Finlandia University.

Business career

Barrett was founding chair of Valley Bank of Arizona, and partner at Evans, Kitchel and Jenckes, a large Phoenix law firm. Before the age of 30, she was an executive of two global Fortune 500 companies.

In her community, Barrett was chair of the Arizona District Export Council, World Affairs Council, and Economic Club of Phoenix.

She also served on the boards of Space Foundation, Sally Ride Science, The Center for International Private Enterprise, The Smithsonian Institute, Caltech, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Hershey Trust Company, Mayo Clinic, the Lasker Foundation, Exponent Corporation,[7] Raytheon, and Piper Aircraft. She was president of the International Women's Forum from 1999 thru 2001.

Barrett has been the owner and CEO of the Triple Creek Guest Ranch since 1994.

Political and diplomatic career

Gubernatorial campaign

In 1994, she was the first female Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona. She ran in the Republican primary against incumbent Governor Fife Symington, but failed to win her party's nomination.[8]

U.S. Ambassador to Finland

In 2008 and 2009, Barrett was U.S. Ambassador to Finland under President George W. Bush. Barrett was also a senior advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a participant with Global Leadership Foundation, Club of Madrid and World Economic Forum. She served as chairman for the State Department's Women's Economic Empowerment Working Group, U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and U.S. Secretary of Commerce's Export Conference.

Secretary of the Air Force

On October 16, 2019, Barrett was confirmed as the 25th Secretary of the Air Force by a vote of 85–7.[9] She was sworn in on October 18, 2019.[6]

Academic career

Barrett is a fellow teaching leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 2012 Barrett was interim president[10] of Thunderbird School of Global Management, now a unit of the Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise. She was CEO of the American Management Association. As a member of the U.S. Afghan Women's Council, she founded Project Artemis,[11] a program to train and mentor Afghan women entrepreneurs at Thunderbird.

In 2000, Arizona State University renamed its Honors College “The Craig and Barbara Barrett Honors College” or Barrett, The Honors College[8] in recognition of Barbara and her husband, the then-CEO of Intel, Craig Barrett.

Aviation career

An instrument-rated pilot, Barrett was the first civilian woman to land in an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier. In 2014, Barrett was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame and received the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Presidential Medal from President Laurie Leshin.[12] She has trained as an astronaut, and was the backup spaceflight participant for the Soyuz TMA-16 flight to the International Space Station. Barrett was also deputy director of the Federal Aviation Administration and vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board.

Awards and recognition

Barrett has been recognized with the Administrators Award for Distinguished Service by the FAA, Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans, Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and Sandra Day O'Connor Board Excellence Award.[13]

Personal life

Barbara Barrett was born on a farm in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.[14] She is married to Craig Barrett, retired chairman and CEO of Intel. She climbed Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2007 and bicycled 900 kilometers throughout Finland while Ambassador.


  1. "Barrett, Barbara (12/26/1950- )". Smithsonian Institution Archives. October 1, 2013. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. "Barbara M. Barrett > U.S. Air Force > Biography Display". Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  3. "Barbara McConnell Barrett Elected as New Trustee".
  4. Trump, Donald J. (May 21, 2019). "I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force. She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin".
  5. "Barbara Barrett confirmed as next Air Force Secretary".
  6. Losey, Stephen (October 18, 2019). "The Air Force has a new secretary; Barbara Barrett sworn in". Air Force Times. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  7. "Home | Exponent".
  8. "Barbara M. Barrett". Barbara M. Barrett.
  9. Kheel, Rebecca (October 16, 2019). "Senate Confirms Trump's Air Force Secretary Pick". The Hill. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  10. Barbara Barrett named interim president at Thunderbird school Phoenix Business Journal, Retrieved April 2012
  11. "Thunderbird News & Events". Thunderbird School of Global Management. May 25, 2016.
  12. "Installation of Laurie Leshin as 16th president".
  13. "Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Lends Name to DirectWomen Award". Archived from the original on December 19, 2014.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Marilyn Ware
United States Ambassador to Finland
Succeeded by
Michael Butler
Political offices
Preceded by
Matthew Donovan
United States Secretary of the Air Force
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