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 came out as a transgender woman 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 served as executive director of the Army Office of Energy Initiatives from 2014 to 2015. She was the first deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Operational Energy from 2015 until the end of the Obama administration in 2017. She subsequently served on the boards of Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing from 2018 to 2020 and of Advanced Thermal Batteries Inc. (ATB) from 2019 to 2023. From 2018 to 2023 she was Vice President for Research and Technology of Airbus, the world’s largest manufacturer of airliners and leading helicopter manufacturer.  


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Amanda Simpson." (Viewed on April 25, 2024) <>.