Barbara Barrett named honorary chair of 2018 Faces of Success Gala

Ambassador Barbara Barrett, who was among a group of visionary founders of Arizona Women’s Education & Employment more than three decades ago, is the honorary chair of the 2018 Faces of Success Gala planned for Feb. 9, 2018 at the PERA Club, 1 E. Continental Drive in Tempe.

Barbara Barrett

Ms. Barrett also will receive the inaugural Barbara Barrett AWEE Icon Award, which will be presented annually in her name to an individual who reflects the courage, strength and character to overcome significant challenges and push past obstacles that might have stopped others in their tracks.
AWEE’s signature Faces of Success celebration transitions to an evening event in 2018 after 22 years as a luncheon.

“We are thrilled to recognize and honor the significant contributions that Ambassador Barbara Barrett has made, not just to AWEE but to the entire community, and to acknowledge through this annual award individuals who have overcome significant barriers to create better tomorrows for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Faces of Success Committee Chair Christina Worden, Political Involvement Committee administrator at Salt River Project.

The Faces of Success Gala begins with a 6 p.m. reception with the program to follow at 7 p.m. Sponsorships are available beginning at $3,500 and individual tickets will go on sale later this year for $350 each.

Ambassador Barrett, no stranger to the challenges facing women, has built a career best characterized as Renaissance.

Today, she chairs the board of a billion-dollar space company, The Aerospace Corporation, serves on the boards of RAND and the Smithsonian and owns a guest ranch in Montana twice rated the best hotel in the world.

In the recent past, she represented the United States as ambassador to Finland, was interim president of Thunderbird School of Global Management, CEO of the American Management Association, a fellow teaching Leadership at Harvard, a senior advisor to a U.S. mission to the United Nations and founding chairman of an Arizona community bank.

She also served on governing boards of Raytheon, Sally Ride Science, Piper Aircraft, Hershey Trust and Mayo Clinic.

An instrument-rated pilot, she is trained and certified for flight to the International Space Station.

But her life wasn’t always so promising. Education and employment opened doors for her. She was 13 when her father died of a heart attack, leaving her city-born mother alone on a remote farm with six children. Barbara went to work to support the family, shoeing horses, guiding horseback rides and giving riding lessons while maintaining good grades in school.

While attending Arizona State University, she worked multiple part-time jobs, still studying to earn her degrees.

During an undergraduate internship at the Arizona Legislature, she discovered her passion for helping people through transportation, drafting a bill that would launch the Arizona Department of Transportation.

She later was appointed by President Reagan to serve as vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board, where she regulated airline industry economics and negotiated aviation agreements with Great Britain, China, Poland, Ireland, Peru, the Philippines, Jamaica and other countries.

Then President Reagan appointed her as the first woman deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, overseeing aircraft, airport, air traffic and aviator safety.

As a member of the AWEE board during its formative years, she helped draft the organization’s early articles of incorporation and bylaws.

“Ambassador Barrett understands the important work of AWEE in helping women overcome obstacles to get better jobs and create a better tomorrow,” Ms. Worden said. “She is, without question, a remarkable role model.”

For more information about AWEE, visit

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