Hon. Deborah Lee James

Former Secretary of the Air Force

As a former Secretary of the Air Force, Secretary Deborah Lee James is the second woman ever to lead a U.S. military service. She has led a remarkable career with more than three decades of public and private sector experience. Deborah began her service on the PenFed Foundation Board of Directors in July 2018 after serving on the PenFed Foundation’s National Advisory Council from 2010-2013. 

From 2013-2017 she served as the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force where she was responsible for organizing, training, equipping, and providing for the welfare of its nearly 660,000 active-duty, guard, reserve, and civilian airmen and their families. She also oversaw the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $139 billion. 

Prior to the Air Force, Deborah was a senior executive at SAIC for 12 years. From 1993 to 1998, she served in the Pentagon as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, where she was the Secretary of Defense’s Senior Advisor on all matters relating to the 1.8 million National Guard and Reserve personnel worldwide. 

Deborah serves on several boards, performs consultation work, and speaks frequently on leadership topics. She is the author of Aim High: Chart Your Course and Find Success.