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Barbara M. Barrett

Former Secretary of the Air Force

Barbara M. Barrett is the former 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 was 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.