The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Amanda Simpson

b. March 26, 1961

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Amanda Simpson until we are able to commission a full entry.

Amanda Simpson is believed to be the first transgender presidential appointee. She was appointed by President Obama to the Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce on December 31, 2009.

A skilled pilot and aeronautics engineer, Amanda Simpson made history in 2010 when she became the first openly transgender presidential appointee, as senior technical advisor to the Bureau of Industry and Security. After working as a student engineer for Douglas Aircraft while an undergraduate, Simpson earned both a BS in physics from Harvey Mudd College and her commercial pilot’s license in 1983. She immediately began working on radar systems for the Hughes Aircraft Company (now Raytheon), overseeing engineering projects through several corporate mergers, and designed a dedicated flight test facility at the Tucson International Airport.  She helped develop and test several missile programs as well as the Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft. While working there, she transitioned from male to female and became an activist for transgender rights, serving on the board of the National Center for Transgender Equality and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, as well as local organizations such as the Arizona Human Rights Fund. After her 2010 appointment to the Department of Commerce, Simpson was posted to the Department of Defense in 2011, and since 2014 serves as executive director of the Army Office of Energy Initiatives.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Amanda Simpson." (Viewed on September 24, 2023) <>.


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