Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
Location: Denver, CO
Industry: Aerospace Museum
John L. Barry is taking Wings Over the Rockies to new heights - and there is no doubt that he is the perfect pilot.
President/CEO of Wings Over the Rockies (WOTR), Barry’s leadership has enabled the aviation museum to maintain flight and continue to make their mission soar.
“Wings Over the Rockies mission is to educate and inspire people of all ages about aviation and space endeavors of the past, present and future,” Barry said. “Wings is committed to being the most exciting and innovative museum and aerospace center west of the Mississippi.”
It is with his commitment, experience, and passion that he has Wings flying high.
Barry has set himself apart because his various careers have allowed him to bring his leadership experiences in the public and private sectors to the forefront at Wings. His accomplishments over his adult life have allowed him to be a “Renaissance” man of sorts. Having grown up in a single parent family in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, he has truly pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. A 1973 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, and a Distinguished Graduate of USAF Pilot Training. He received his MPA from Oklahoma University, was a White House Fellow in 1986-1987, attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard on a fellowship in 1993-1994, and is a 2004 graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy. Barry took over as CEO in January 2017 and balanced the budget three years in a row. With this, Wings was able to open a second site at Centennial Airport.
Needless to say, Barry guided them out of turbulence.
Since joining WOTR, Barry’s accomplishments for the company include recognition by USA Today as one of the top 10 Best Aviation Museums in the USA and recognition by CNN as one of the top twenty Aerospace Museums in the World. Additionally, under Barry’s leadership, WOTR opened a charter school at the new Centennial Site; issued flight training scholarships to 51 students worth $250,000; debuted “Behind the Wings”, and opened a renewed flight ramp in honor of the legacy of Clay Lacy. Additionally, Barry introduced “Aerospace Alley”, a concept similar to Silicon Valley but for Aerospace.
He has served as a Board Member of numerous non-profits and provided philanthropic contributions to numerous organizations nationally and in the Denver-Metro area that include: Colorado Cooperation; School Leaders for America; Public Education and Business Coalition; Rose Foundation, Education Committee; Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Junior Achievement; Boys & Girls Clubs Metro Denver; Association of Graduates, USAF Academy. Currently, he is a Member, Colorado Forum; Member, Council on Foreign Relations; Board Member, Air Force Historical Society, and Board Member, National Aviation Hall of Fame.
It is clear to see that the dedication Barry puts into his work defines a Titan of industry.
Giving of himself has always been one of Barry’s characteristics and so is excellence in management during a crisis. A former combat commander over Iraq and a General assigned to the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack, Barry led his team through the COVID-19 pandemic with confidence.
“Leadership is the cornerstone of any successful transformation, and genuine leadership is not about racing ahead and hoping that others are following. Whether leading in the military, a business, a school district or a museum, I have embraced the concept that it is better to lead by inspiring and not commanding,” he said. “Our main goal during this pandemic is to keep people safe while they are being educated and inspired about aviation and space.”
Barry has often stated that one of the best measures he can have for himself and others is to leave any organization better than you found it.
“If everyone, at any level, can make their organization better, however large or small, there is no truer testament to success,” he said.
With his diligence, dedication and passion for his work, this Titan of industry will continue to be on the radar, flying WOTR high over the Rockies - and the world.
Fun Fact: John Barry used to play the keyboard in a rock band in the Bronx, NY while in High School