Samuel K. Skinner

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Samuel Knox Skinner
Samuel Knox Skinner.jpg
10th United States Secretary of Transportation
In office
February 6, 1989 – December 15, 1991
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by James H. Burnley IV
Succeeded by Andrew Card
15th White House Chief of Staff
In office
December 16, 1991 – August 23, 1992
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by John H. Sununu
Succeeded by James Baker
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
In office
President Gerald Ford
Preceded by James R. Thompson
Succeeded by Thomas P. Sullivan
Personal details
Born (1938-06-10) June 10, 1938 (age 78)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Honey Jacobs Skinner
Children Thomas V. Skinner
Steven K. Skinner
Jane Skinner
Samuel J. Skinner
William C. Skinner
Alma mater University of Illinois
DePaul University
Occupation Lawyer, public official, businessman
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1960-1961
Rank Lieutenant

Samuel Knox Skinner (born June 10, 1938) is an American politician, lawyer and businessman. Skinner served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation and White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush.

Early life and career[edit]

Skinner was born in Chicago, Illinois, on June 10, 1938, the son of Imelda Jane Curran and her husband, Vernon Orlo Skinner. He grew up in Springfield, Illinois and Wheaton, Illinois, and graduated from Wheaton Community High School in 1956.[1] He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science in accounting. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha, Beta Eta chapter at the University of Illinois. Upon graduation, he served as a lieutenant and a tank platoon leader in the United States Army in 1960-1961. He graduated from DePaul University Law School in 1966, where he served on the law review. Skinner has been involved in the Boy Scouts most of his life, earning the Eagle Scout award as a youth in Troop 35, in Wheaton, and being honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award as an adult.

After his military service, Skinner held various sales and management positions with the IBM Corporation from 1960 to 1968. In 1967, IBM selected him Outstanding Salesman of the Year. Although offered position to serve as Executive Assistant to the President of IBM, Skinner decided to enter a career in public service. From 1968 to 1975, Skinner served in the office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and, in 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed Skinner the United States Attorney. From 1977 to 1989, Skinner practiced law as a senior partner in the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where he served on the firm's executive committee. From 1984 to 1988, while practicing law full-time, he also served as Chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority of northeastern Illinois, the nation's second largest mass transportation district. Also during that time, President Reagan appointed Skinner as Vice Chairman of the President's Commission on Organized Crime.

He was President of Commonwealth Edison from 1993 to 1998, Chairman, President, and CEO of US Freightways from 2003-2005, and is currently on the board of directors of Navigant Consulting, Echo Global Logistics, Virgin America, the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE), and an advisor to Metalmark Capital. In 2015, Skinner was appointed Chairman of the Takata Corporation Independent Quality Assurance panel, which includes former Secretary of the Treasury and CSX Corporation Chairman and CEO John W. Snow and Marion Blakey, among others. Skinner also practiced with the Chicago-based law firm Hopkins & Sutter. He is currently of counsel at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and was a Commissioner of the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure Commission. He serves on the Board of Visitors of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy.


Skinner was instrumental in developing President Bush's National Transportation Policy and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which served as the catalyst for the whole ITS industry.

In that capacity, he served as chief executive officer of a cabinet-level federal department with a budget of over $30 billion and a workforce of 105,000 people. As Secretary of Transportation, Skinner was credited with numerous successes, including the development of the President's National Transportation Policy and the passage of landmark aviation and surface transportation legislation. He also issued regulations mandating wheelchair lifts on buses.

He also developed the "open skies" policy of the United States that liberalized U.S. international policy and significantly increased the number of international flights to and from the U.S. In addition, Skinner acted as the President's point person in numerous crisis situations, including the Eastern Air Lines strike, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the northern California earthquake, Hurricane Hugo, and the 1991 national rail strike. Skinner's role in these emergencies earned him the moniker "The Master of Disaster". Washingtonian magazine twice gave Skinner its highest ranking for his performance as Secretary of Transportation.


Skinner and his first wife, Susan Ann Thomas, had three children. His son, Thomas V. Skinner, is the former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's national compliance program and director of the EPA's region 5. His daughter, Jane Skinner Goodell, is a former news anchor on Fox News Channel's Happening Now and the wife of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.[2] Another son, Steven K. Skinner, is the CEO of KemperSports, a privately owned company that manages over 100 golf courses across the country. Skinner currently resides in Winnetka, Illinois with his wife, Honey Jacobs Skinner, a retired partner at the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, and his two sons, Sam and Will.


  1. ^ Mehler, Neil H. (December 9, 1991). "Wheaton Pals Recall `Good Guy` Skinner". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Schefter, Adam (August 8, 2006). "Goodell now comes to the forefront". NFL. Archived from the original on August 14, 2006. Retrieved October 22, 2012. 


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
James H. Burnley IV
U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Served under: George H. W. Bush

February 6, 1989 – December 13, 1991
Succeeded by
Andrew Card
Preceded by
John H. Sununu
White House Chief of Staff
Served under: George H. W. Bush

December 16, 1991 – August 23, 1992
Succeeded by
James Baker