President Obama has nominated Deborah Lee James to be the next Secretary of the Air Force. James would succeed Michael Donley who stepped down last month. Donley was the longest-serving Air Force secretary.
In his nominating statement, President Obama said James was uniquely qualified to be Secretary of the Air Force due to her “strong record of public service and leadership in the private sector.” He said he would work with James to “keep the faith with our extraordinary Air Force personnel and their families.”
James served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs from 1993 to 1998. Prior to that she was a professional staff member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) from 1983 to 1993.
Currently, James is President of the Technology and Engineering Sector of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Her other positions in SAIC include Senior Vice President of the C4IT Business Unit and Executive Vice President of Communications (2004 to 2013). Prior to joining SAIC, she was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Business Executives for National Security (BENS) (2000-2001) and Vice President in the International Operations and Marketing Division of United Technologies.
James is a member of the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) and on the Advisory Board of the Women in Military Service Memorial Foundation’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math campaign.
If confirmed by the Senate, James would become the second civilian head of the Air Force. Sheila Widnall served as Air Force secretary in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997.