Dennis Hightower

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Dennis Hightower
15th United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce
In office
President Barack Obama
Preceded by John J. Sullivan
Succeeded by Rebecca Blank
Personal details
Born Dennis Fowler Hightower
(1941-10-28) October 28, 1941 (age 76)
Washington D.C.
Education McKinley High School
Alma mater Howard University

Dennis Fowler Hightower (born October 28, 1941[1] in Washington, DC), is a former Army Officer, retired business executive, college educator, and public servant who was the United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce from August 11, 2009 to August 27, 2010.

He spent his formative years in Washington, D.C., and graduated from McKinley High School in 1958, at age 16, as class president. He entered Howard University that same year and graduated in 1962, at age 20, with a B.S. degree. While at Howard, he was a student leader, a student athlete (swimming, riflery and rowing), and was the top graduating senior and a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Army ROTC program.

Commissioned as a Regular Army 2d Lieutenant in June 1962, Hightower completed the US Army Ranger School and US Army Airborne School, and served in the 101st Airborne Division as a platoon leader, company commander, and S-3 air operations officer. Later, he was trained in counterintelligence and field operations intelligence, and served in strategic and operational assignments in the US and abroad. Hightower served in Vietnam with the 199th Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Light), and was promoted to the rank of Major at age 27. During his eight-year military career, he was awarded numerous decorations for meritorious achievement and valor. In addition, he holds the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, and Senior Parachutist Badge. Hightower resigned his commission in June 1970, after early selection to attend the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

After his military service, Hightower joined Xerox, and two years later, he was awarded a fellowship to study at Harvard Business School, from which he earned his MBA in 1974. Following that, he was a senior associate/engagement manager at McKinsey & Company; vice president and general manager of General Electric's lighting business in Mexico; vice president of corporate strategy at Mattel; and managing director at Russell Reynolds Associates in Los Angeles.

In 1987, Hightower was recruited by The Walt Disney Company, where he served as president of Disney Consumer Products for Europe, Middle East and Africa, based in Paris;[citation needed] and later as president of Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications,[2] then Disney's largest division based on revenues and operating income.[citation needed] He retired in June 1996.[2] When Hightower retired from The Walt Disney Company, he was among the ten highest-ranking African American executives in corporate America.

In July 1996, Hightower joined the faculty of Harvard Business School, initially as a Senior Lecturer (1996–97), and for three years thereafter as Professor of Management in the first year MBA program, where he focused on leadership, building emerging markets, and global general management. He also taught in senior executive programs in South Africa and the Middle East.

From 2000 to 2001, Hightower was CEO of Europe Online Networks, a privately held satellite-delivered interactive company based in Luxembourg. He returned to the United States to be treated for cancer.

Over the years, Hightower has served on numerous corporate and not-for profit boards including: The TJX Companies, PanAmSat, PVH, Northwest Airlines, The Gillette Company, Domino's Pizza, Accenture, and the Price Waterhouse Chairman's Advisory Council. In the public sector, he has served on the Defense Business Board, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Casey Family Programs, Harvard Business School Visiting Committee, Howard University Board of Trustees, Morehouse College Andrew Young Center for International Affairs, the Ron Brown Scholar Program, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the French Heritage Society.

He has been a guest lecturer on leadership at IMD in Switzerland, INSEAD in France, the London Business School, the United States Military Academy, and the United States Military Academy Preparatory School.

His travels for business and other purposes have taken him to 91 countries, and he has conducted negotiations with business and political leaders throughout the world. His achievements in business have resulted in many awards bestowed by academic, business and civic organizations throughout the years.

Hightower was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 7, 2009 to replace John J. Sullivan, who resigned from this office on January 20, 2009.[3] As Deputy Secretary, Hightower functioned as the chief operating officer of a Department with a $17 billion budget and 55,000 employees; and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Department's twelve bureaus. He was a member of the President's Management Council; the committee on foreign investment in the U.S.; various cabinet-level task forces dealing with broadband access, export controls, satellite acquisition, and selected national security matters; a representative to the Transatlantic Business Dialogue on trade deliberations with the EU; and a board member of OPIC. He resigned on August 27, 2010, to return to the private sector.[4]


  1. ^ Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  2. ^ a b "Roth, Iger Assume Expanded Responsibilities at the Walt Disney Company". PRNewswire. April 16, 1996. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Dennis F. Hightower Confirmed as Deputy Secretary of Commerce". United States Department of Commerce. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  4. ^ "Commerce deputy is leaving". Politico. Capitol News Company LLC. July 15, 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2015. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John J. Sullivan
United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Succeeded by
Rebecca Blank (acting)