Heather Ann Wilson (born December 30, 1960) is an American politician who serves as the President of the University of Texas at El Paso. She served as the 24th Secretary of the United States Air Force from 2017 through 2019. Wilson was the president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City from 2013 to 2017, and she was the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress. She was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district from 1998 to 2009.
While Secretary of the Air Force, Wilson focused on restoring the readiness of the force which had declined after years of combat and budget constraints. She proposed and supported three straight years of double-digit budget increases for military space capability and publicly acknowledged that space is likely to be contested in any future conflict. Wilson also guided implementation of acquisition reform to reduce the time to get military capability to the warfighter and increase competition by making it easier for innovative companies to supply the Air Force. Wilson was honored by the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Department of Defense for her superior service upon her retirement.
While in the U.S. House of Representatives, Wilson focused on national security issues, serving on the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the United States House Committee on Armed Services. She also focused on health care, energy, manufacturing and trade, and telecommunications, serving on the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce. She opted not to run for re-election in 2008 and sought the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Senator Pete Domenici but finished second in the Republican primary to Congressman Steve Pearce, who then lost the general election to Democrat Tom Udall. On March 7, 2011, she announced another run for Senate in 2012 to replace retiring Senator Jeff Bingaman, but lost the general election to Democrat Martin Heinrich, her successor in the House of Representatives.In April 2013 she was selected to be president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology by the South Dakota Board of Regents. She was the eighteenth president, and first female president, of SD Mines. On January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Wilson as Secretary of the Air Force. The US Senate confirmed her nomination on May 8, 2017. On March 8, 2019, Wilson said that she would resign as Secretary, effective May 31, 2019, in order to assume the office of President of the University of Texas at El Paso.