Celebrating Women’s History Month with Ambassador Barbara Barrett

March 1, 2023
Leadership Lessons

To celebrate the start of Women’s History Month, we interviewed Ambassador Barbara Barrett, 25th Secretary of the Air Force and alumnae of Valley Leadership Institute Class 1. Keep reading to learn more about her unique journey in leadership and the various roles she has taken on throughout her career.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Ambassador Barrett in honor of Women’s History Month. We learned about her unique perspective on leadership as a trailblazer and role model for so many women who have followed in her footsteps.

As a Valley Leadership alumni and long-time advocate for Arizona, Ambassador Barrett shared her experiences with various issues in Arizona, including the housing and water crises, widespread inaccessibility to healthcare, lack of equitable educational opportunities, and more.

Ambassador Barrett has had numerous leadership positions through the years, and has embodied adaptive leadership in every aspect of her career. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from Arizona State University. She went on to be the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, the 25th Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, interim President of the ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management, and Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Ambassador Barrett also shared stories about her experiences abroad with Project Artemis, a program she founded to help educate and mentor Afghan women through the ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management.

One of the most important takeaways from our conversation was that communities are best represented when leaders utilize a people-centered approach to leadership. Ambassador Barrett had a few specific pieces of advice for women who are pursuing leadership roles:

  • Set and work to achieve impactful goals
  • Find ways to continue to learn and improve
  • Learn how to be efficient and effective with your time
  • Be someone that other people want to work with
  • Develop and maintain strong habits
  • Explore new ways to support and improve your community

Want to learn more about Ambassador Barrett’s countless examples of leadership? Watch the full interview!

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