Barack Obama has chosen Amanda Simpson as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce, marking the first transgender appointment in an American presidential administration.
Simpson has more than 30 years of experience in the aerospace and defense industry, most recently serving as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. While working at Raytheon, she transitioned from male-to-female over a six-year period, and successfully lobbied to add gender identity to Raytheon’s Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.
Simpson also holds degrees in physics, engineering and business administration along with an extensive flight background. She is a certified flight instructor and test pilot with 20 years of experience.
She has also been very active politically, having served on the Board of Directors of two national organizations: Out & Equal and NCTE. In Arizona, she has been on the board of Wingspan, the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, the Southern Arizona ACLU and the Arizona Human Rights Fund (now Equality Arizona). She also ran an unsuccessful congressional bid in Arizona back in 2005.
The appointment makes good on a promise made by White House Office of Public Engagement (aka the LGBT liaison) Brian Bond, who stated an LGBT would have a visible role in the Obama Administration.
“I’m truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me,” Simpson said in a press statement. “And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others.”
Simpson will be working in the Bureau of Industry and Security.