Major General John L. Barry

John Barry Speakers Bureau - Wings Museum


John L. Barry, current President & CEO of Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, was a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board that was created to examine the disaster. In his presentation “When the Right Stuff Goes Wrong”, he will speak first-hand about the accident and share lessons that can be learned from this mishap.

The accident was a major event that was essentially caused by technological, cultural, mechanical and organizational failures. Barry will explain the “nuts and bolts” of this disaster in a way that can be understood, reflected on, and applied to current business plans.

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About John L. Barry:

John L. Barry, Maj Gen, USAF (Ret) is the President and CEO of the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum (WOTR), located in Denver, Colorado. WOTR is Colorado’s Official Air and Space Museum with two locations and in 2018, WOTR was recognized by CNN as one of the top 20 Aviation Museums in the World and by USA Today as the top 10 Museums in the USA.

Mr. Barry served as President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver (BGCMD) from 2014-2016. He was responsible for 2,000 kids each day with 10,000 members, 225 full and part-time staff, and a $16 million annual budget.

General Barry served as Superintendent of Aurora Public Schools for seven years, from 2006-2013 with 40,000 students, 60 schools, and a $500 million budget. His team instituted Concurrent Enrollment in 2008 (college credit in the APS High Schools) that went nation-wide.

Before returning to Colorado, he served in the United States Air Force for over 30 years as a combat veteran with 270 hours of combat time, fighter pilot, Fighter Weapons School Graduate (USAF “Top Gun” School), winning team member at the “Top Gun” international Air-to-Air William Tell Competition, Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, and commander multiple times at the squadron, twice at the group command level and twice at the wing command level. He is also a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon while serving as the lead Strategic Planner for the USAF. He retired in 2004 as a “Two Star”, Major General, and finished his USAF career as Board Member and Executive Director for the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation.

Mr. Barry is a 1973 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, with a double major in International Affairs and Political Science and a Distinguished Graduate of USAF Pilot Training. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Oklahoma University, was a White House Fellow in 1986-1987, attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard on a fellowship in 1993-1994, and is a 2004 graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy.

In 2011, John Barry was selected by the Colorado Association of School Executives as the Colorado Superintendent of the Year. In 2021, he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Aviation Historical Society and in 2022 he was awarded the Annual Colorado Space Business Coalition Cosmic Contributor Award. In 2023, John was inducted into the Titan 100 CEOs Hall of Fame in Colorado, inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame and honored by the Denver Business Journal as a Most Admired CEO.