Barbara Thompson


Former Director, Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Military Community and Family Policy

Barbara A. Thompson assumed the duties of director for the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy in September, 2006 and retired in January 2017.   

As director, Ms. Thompson was responsible for programs and policies that promote military families’ well-being, readiness and quality of life. In this capacity, she had oversight for Department of Defense child development and youth programs, which serve 700,000 children daily at more than 300 locations worldwide. Ms. Thompson had purview over military family readiness programs, including spouse well-being and career advancement, military family lifecycle and transition support, and community capacity building to support geographically dispersed military members and their families. She also had oversight of the Family Advocacy Program and Exceptional Family Member Program.

Prior to assuming these duties, Ms. Thompson coordinated support programs for severely injured service members and their families and supported the rebuilding of the Ministry of Education in Iraq.

She spent 18 years with Air Force family programs, most recently as the child development program and youth training and curriculum specialist at Air Force Headquarters. During her tenure with the Air Force, Ms. Thompson was an integral member of the team that helped more than 98 percent of Air Force child-development programs achieve accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

As a leader in the field of early childhood education, in 2003-2005 Ms. Thompson participated in ZERO TO THREE’s prestigious “Leaders for the 21st Century” program as one of only 11 Harris Fellows. This leadership-development initiative provided experienced professionals with an established record of leadership and achievement with an opportunity to collaborate with top leaders from many disciplines and receive assistance for an innovative project aimed at improving the lives of young children.

In 2014, Ms. Thompson received the Ellen Swallow Richards Public Service Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Board on Human Sciences, Inc.  This award honors a nationally recognized leader who has a significant history of promoting and advancing the human sciences.

In 2019, the Military Family Research Institute honored Ms. Thompson, who has served military and veteran families for 45 years, by naming its Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families award after her.

Since her retirement, Barbara joined the Board of Directors at Child Care Aware of American and ZERO TO THREE.  In addition, she serves on the advisory boards for Blue Star Families, the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue, and the Military Child Education Coalition.