Dean Vali Nasr launched the Johns Hopkins SAIS Women's Leadership Initiative with The Honorable Barbara Barrett, Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation and former United States Ambassador to Finland.
This event was moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute and was part of the Women Who Inspire series.
Barbara Barrett is chairman of the Aerospace Corporation and a member of the boards of California Institute of Technology, Sally Ride Science, RAND Corporation, Smithsonian Institution, Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans and Lasker Foundation. She and her husband Craig own Triple Creek Ranch in Montana, named by Travel + Leisure as the best hotel in the world for 2014.
In 2012 Barrett served as interim president of Thunderbird School of Global Management. In 2008 and 2009, Barrett was U.S. Ambassador to Finland. Previously, Barrett was senior advisor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, a fellow teaching leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, CEO of the American Management Association, deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board. She also served on the boards of Space Foundation, Milton Hershey School and Hershey Trust Company, Mayo Clinic, Exponent Corporation, Raytheon and Piper Aircraft. Barrett was founding chairman of Valley Bank of Arizona and chaired the State Department’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Export Conference. She was a partner in a large Phoenix law firm and, before she was thirty, she was an executive of two global Fortune 500 companies.
Barrett was president of the International Women’s Forum. As a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, she founded Project Artemis, a program to train and mentor Afghan women entrepreneurs at Thunderbird School of Global Management. She is a member of the Global Leadership Foundation and Council on Foreign Relations, and has been a frequent participant with Club of Madrid and the World Economic Forum. In her community, Barrett was chairman of the Arizona District Export Council, World Affairs Council, Economic Club of Phoenix and Thunderbird School. In 1994, she was the first female Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona.
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 School of Global Management, the University of South Carolina, Pepperdine University and Finlandia University. The Honors College at ASU was named for Barrett and her husband, Craig, in 2000.
She has been recognized with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans, Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and Sandra Day O’Connor Board Excellence Award. In 2014, Barrett received the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Presidential Medal from President Laurie Leshin.
An instrument-rated pilot, Barrett was the first civilian woman to land in an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier. She climbed Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2007 and bicycled 900 kilometers around Finland while Ambassador. She has trained as an astronaut, and was the backup spaceflight participant for the Soyuz TMA-16 flight to the International Space Station.