Barbara Barrett’s career has focused on aviation, trade, and technology. In April 2012, she became interim president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She also owns Triple Creek Guest Ranch, a Montana hotel. Barrett is a member of the boards of the RAND and Aerospace Corporations, and a senior fellow at the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board.
Barrett served as U.S. ambassador to Finland from April 2008 to January 2009.
Previously, she taught leadership as a fellow at Harvard University, and was CEO of the American Management Association. She served on the boards of Hershey, the Mayo Clinic, Exponent, Raytheon, and Piper Aircraft, and was founding chairperson of Valley Bank of Arizona. Before turning 30, Barrett was an officer of two global Fortune 500 companies.
Barrett served President Bush as the first female chairperson of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and as senior advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She was designated to be secretary of the Air Force. Barrett also chaired the State Department’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group and, as a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, founded Project Artemis, a program to train and mentor Afghan businesswomen at Thunderbird.
During the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations, Barrett served as deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and vice chairperson of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board. She chaired the National Export Conference and the Arizona District Export Council. She was also a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations and the Administrative Conference of the United States.
Barrett serves on the boards of the Smithsonian, the Space Foundation, the Center for International Private Enterprise, and the Hoover Institution. She was president of the International Women’s Forum, and in 1994 was the first female Republican candidate for governor of Arizona.
Barrett earned her bachelor, master, and law degrees at Arizona State University. She has also received honorary doctorates from ASU, Thunderbird, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of South Carolina, Pepperdine University, and Finlandia University. She has been recognized with the Horatio Alger Award and the Sandra Day O’Connor Board Excellence Award.
An instrument-rated pilot, Barrett has landed an F/A-18 on an aircraft carrier. She also trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, culminating in certification as an astronaut.