Barbara Hackman Franklin

Barbara Hackman Franklin

Barbara Hackman Franklin (born March 19, 1940) was the 29th United States Secretary of Commerce [] and was the highest-ranking woman in the Administration of President George H.W. Bush. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she achieved a major goal – increasing American exports – with emphasis on market-opening initiatives in China, Russia, Japan and Mexico. Her historic mission to China in 1992 normalized commercial relations with that country and removed one of the sanctions – the ban on ministerial contact – that the U.S. had imposed following the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Currently, Franklin is President and Chief Executive Officer of Barbara Franklin Enterprises, a private investment and consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. She continues to be an active and respected advocate for American companies operating in foreign markets, notably China.

Considered an expert on corporate governance, auditing, and financial reporting practices, Franklin has been a director of fourteen public companies and is currently a director of four – Aetna Inc., The Dow Chemical Company, MedImmune, Inc., and GenVec, Inc., as well as the Washington Mutual Investors Fund. She has chaired several audit committees, and received the John J. McCloy award for outstanding contributions to audit excellence. Franklin has been recognized as a Director of the Year by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) in 2000 and an Outstanding Director by BoardAlert in 2003. Currently, she serves as Governance Committee Chair for NACD. She is a regular commentator on corporate governance and international economic matters on the PBS Nightly Business Report.

Franklin is Chairman of the Economic Club of New York [] , a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Corporate Directors [] , vice chairman of the US-China Business Council [] , chair of the Asian Studies Center Advisory Council of the Heritage Foundation [] , a member of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Advisory Council, and a member of numerous other organizations.

Prior to her service as Secretary of Commerce, Franklin’s trailblazing career included corporate, governmental, academic, and entrepreneurial activities. She began her career in New York at the Singer Company before moving to Citibank. In 1971, she joined the White House staff of President Nixon and launched the first White House effort to recruit women for high-level government jobs [] . She later served as one of the original commissioners of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Franklin was a Senior Fellow at the Wharton School and Director of the Wharton Government and Business Program prior to founding Franklin Associates, a management consulting firm. She served four terms on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, by appointments of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and as an Alternate Representative to the United Nations General Assembly, by appointment of President George H.W. Bush. She was appointed by President Bush to the Competitiveness Policy Council. Altogether, she has served five U.S. Presidents.

Franklin has been active in politics throughout her career. She has participated in every Republican convention since 1972 and was a convention speaker in 1992. She co-chaired the George H.W. Bush national finance committee and was Director of Republican Coalitions at the 1988 convention.

A native of Pennsylvania, Franklin graduated with distinction from the Pennsylvania State University and was one of the first women graduates of the Harvard Business School. She is married to Wallace Barnes, retired Chairman and CEO of the Barnes Group, Inc., and resides in Bristol, CT and Washington DC.

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