Women Making History: Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett

TrustBank Celebrates Women Making History!

At TrustBank we applaud the women leaders who break down barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and create opportunities for the women who follow them. March is Women’s History Month and each week we will profile a ground-breaking woman who inspires us!

Barbara M. Barrett

25th Secretary of the Air Force

Barbara M. Barrett, was the 25th Secretary of the Air Force from 2019-2021, leading the Department of the Air Force, comprised of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. She was 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 she oversaw an annual budget of more than $205 billion, Secretary Barrett directed strategy, policy, acquisitions, technology, personnel, and risk management. She implements decisions of the President and Congress and fulfilled 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.1

From the US Air Force Airman Magazine, Secretary Barrett discusses her humble beginnings, the importance of her education, and what drove her success.2

1) Barbara Barrett Biography. (2011, January). Retrieved from https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/1990786/barbara-m-barrett/

2) Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs. (2019, November 21). 25th SecAF Barbara Barrett Interview [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.nasic.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2023076/an-introduction-secretary-of-the-air-force-barbara-m-barrett/

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