Barbara Barrett

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Barbara Barrett
Barbara McC Barrett.jpg
United States Secretary of the Air Force
Assuming office
PresidentDonald Trump
SucceedingMatthew Donovan
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 (age 68)
Indiana County, Pennsylvania
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Craig Barrett
EducationArizona State University, Tempe (BA, MA, JD)
*Pending Senate confirmation

Barbara Barrett (née McConnell; December 26, 1950)[1] is an American businesswoman, attorney, and diplomat.[2] Barrett is former chair of the Aerospace Corporation and a member of 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]

Early life and education[edit]

Barrett earned her bachelor's, master's, and law degrees at Arizona State University. Honorary doctorates have been conferred by ASU, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Thunderbird, University of South Carolina, Pepperdine University and Finlandia University.

Business career[edit]

Barrett was founding chair of Valley Bank of Arizona, partner in a large Phoenix law firm and, before she was 30, 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, Milton Hershey School, and Hershey Trust Company, Mayo Clinic, Exponent Corporation,[5] Raytheon, and Piper Aircraft.

Political and diplomatic career[edit]

Gubernatorial campaign[edit]

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.[6]

U.S. Ambassador to Finland[edit]

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.

Academic career[edit]

Barrett speaking at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in November 2017.

Barrett is a fellow teaching leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 2012 Barrett was interim president[7] 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,[8] 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[edit]

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.[9] 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 administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board.

Awards and recognition[edit]

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.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Barbara Barrett was born on a farm in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.[11] 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.
  2. ^ Barbara Barrett, Executive Profile Bloomberg Businessweek, Retrieved March 2011
  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. ^ "Home | Exponent".
  6. ^ "Barbara M. Barrett". Barbara M. Barrett.
  7. ^ Barbara Barrett named interim president at Thunderbird school Phoenix Business Journal, Retrieved April 2012
  8. ^ "Thunderbird News & Events". Thunderbird School of Global Management. May 25, 2016.
  9. ^ ""Installation of Laurie Leshin as 16th president"".
  10. ^ "Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Lends Name to DirectWomen Award". Archived from the original on December 19, 2014.
  11. ^ [1]

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Marilyn Ware
United States Ambassador to Finland
Succeeded by
Michael Butler
Political offices
Preceded by
Heather Wilson
United States Secretary of the Air Force
Taking office 2019