Donald L. Peterson became the Air Force Association's executive director on August 1, 2002. The title has since been changed to President as of September 2006.
As AFA's top staff executive, Peterson directs the association's professional staff in all functional areas and is responsible for the management and operations of the Association and its educational affiliate, the Aerospace Education Foundation.
A retired lieutenant general, he previously served as director of plans and assistant deputy chief of staff for air and space operations at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, DC, and later as deputy chief of staff for personnel. He is also co-chair of the Air Force Retiree Council.
Peterson began his career as a KC-135 pilot and later flew the EC-135, F-4, F-15 and F-111 aircraft. He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours, including 597 combat hours. His command assignments included tours as commander of a tactical fighter squadron, a tactical fighter wing, and a flying training wing. He also commanded the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Space Command. He served as the director of plans and operations for the Air Education and Training Command prior to his Washington assignment.
Peterson graduated from Texas A&M, Class of 66, with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance and completed pilot training in October 1967. He is a 1980 graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and a 1982 distinguished graduate of Air War College. Peterson also holds a master's degree in management from Auburn University, which he received in 1982. He attended the Executive Development Program at Carnegie-Mellon University and Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security at Harvard University.
Among his military decorations are the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with three service stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Peterson and his wife, Gayle, currently reside in Fairfax, VA.
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