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Lessons in leadership and public service

Former US Air Force Secretary and former US Rep. Heather Wilson to discuss ethical dilemmas in government service

Portrait of former U.S Air Force Secretary and former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson.

Former U.S Air Force Secretary and former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson.

March 24, 2022

The United States of America is in constant change and under great pressure from many directions. As new challenges to government arise and increasing demands surface each day, public servants face expectations and ethical dilemmas that most citizens can’t even fathom.

How can public officials guide their decisions with virtue in the midst of a rapidly changing environment domestically and internationally?

Heather Wilson has a few suggestions. Over the last three decades, Wilson has been at the forefront of many of our country’s most challenging moments, transitioning between the U.S. Congress, the Air Force, the private sector and public education. On Tuesday, March 29, she will speak at Arizona State University about the lessons she has learned in leadership positions.

This event is part of the the Civic Discourse Project, a series of lectures with some of the country’s most respected intellectuals and leaders. The program is co-sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Registration is now open for in-person attendance, and the event will also be livestreamed on YouTube.

“Heather Wilson is a respected and effective public servant, leader in the private sector, pilot and president of the University of Texas at El Paso,” said Paul Carrese, founding director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “We will certainly learn important lessons from her and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced daily in public office by men and women leading and serving our country and our communities.”

Wilson joined the University of Texas at El Paso after serving as Secretary of the United States Air Force. She is the former president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, an engineering and science research university in Rapid City, South Dakota, and represented New Mexico in the United States Congress for 10 years. Wilson has also worked in the private sector, serving as a senior adviser to the defense and scientific industry and as president of Keystone International, a company she founded that conducted business development and program planning work.

Wilson was the first person in her family to attend college. She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in the third class to admit women and earned her master's and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar. She and her husband, Jay Hone, have three adult children. 

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership is an academic unit inside The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Founded in 2017, the school combines liberal arts education with outside-the-classroom learning experiences to prepare students for leadership roles in the public and private sectors. The school also hosts a robust public programming schedule in its Civic Discourse Project, which addresses the pressing issues of our times and is aired on Arizona PBS. All lectures are free, open to the public and available for viewing at and on YouTube. For more information about the school's academic offerings and events, visit

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