Kenneth Braithwaite

Kenneth John Braithwaite II[1] (born 1960) is an American politician, diplomat and businessman serving as the 77th United States secretary of the Navy since May 29, 2020.[2] He was nominated by President Donald Trump on March 2, 2020 and was sworn in May 29, 2020.[3][4] He served as the United States Ambassador to Norway from February 8, 2018 until his confirmation. Braitwaite is a retired United States Navy one-star rear admiral.[5]

Ken Braithwaite
Kenneth J. Braithwaite II official photo.jpg
77th United States Secretary of the Navy
Assumed office
May 29, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyGregory J. Slavonic (acting)
Preceded byRichard V. Spencer
31st United States Ambassador to Norway
In office
February 8, 2018 – May 29, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded bySamuel D. Heins
Succeeded byRichard Riley (acting)
Personal details
Kenneth John Braithwaite II

1960 (age 59–60)
Political partyRepublican
EducationUnited States Naval Academy (BS)
University of Pennsylvania (MPA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1984–1993 (active)
1993–2011 (reserve)
RankRear Admiral (lower half)

Early life and educationEdit

Braithwaite is from Livonia, Michigan.[6] He attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated with a bachelor's degree in naval engineering and political science in 1984.[7][8] He later earned a master's degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Fels Institute of Government,[9] in 1995.[10]

Braithwaite obtained additional graduate qualifications from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, as well as the Air Command and Staff College at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.[11]

From 1993 to 1996, Braithwaite served as Town Councilman for the borough of Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.[12]

Military careerEdit

Rear Admiral Kenneth Braithwaite as Vice Chief of Information, circa 2007.

Braithwaite was commissioned as an ensign in 1984,[1] and was initially selected as a special assistant in the Office of Legislative Affairs on Capitol Hill. He became a naval aviator in April 1986 and was assigned to fly anti-submarine patrol missions with Patrol Squadron 17 out of Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii.[10] In April 1988 he was reassigned to public affairs duties [10] as director of public affairs aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66), and in 1990 he became the chief of public affairs to the commander of Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.[13]

Braithwaite's active duty service ended in 1993, but he immediately joined the Navy Reserve.[10] He continued to perform various public affairs assignments until his retirement in 2011.[7][14] From 1993 until 2002 he served in different roles with numerous commands, including the 6th Fleet, 7th Fleet, US Pacific Fleet and Commander Carrier Group Two.

In 2002 he was selected as Commanding Officer of Navy Combat Camera Atlantic (Reserve) and during the Iraq invasion in 2003 he deployed with his command in support of combat operations. In 2004 he was selected as the Director, Joint Public Affairs Support Element-Reserve part of Joint Forces/Joint Enabling Capabilities Command. In this role he commanded a 50-person joint public affairs expeditionary unit that was forward deployed to support Combatant Commanders in time of conflict. In 2005 he deployed to Islamabad, Pakistan to serve as the Director of Strategic Communications, concurrently reporting to the Commander for Disaster Response and to the US Ambassador to Pakistan.

He was nominated to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) in early 2007[15] while serving as director of the Joint Public Affairs Support Element at Norfolk.[16] His promotion was approved by the U.S. Senate that June.[17][18] He served as the Navy's Vice Chief of Information until his retirement in June 2011.[19]

Business careerEdit

Upon leaving active duty in June 1993 Braithwaite enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.[20] Shortly thereafter he was hired by Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) as Manager of Operations where he managed a multi-disciplined, union-represented workforce. He was later assigned to ARCO's Washington DC office to work on regulatory affairs.[21] When ARCO was acquired by British Petroleum in 1997 [22] Braithwaite was hired by Pennsylvania's senior US Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) to serve as his State Director leading the senator's offices across the Commonwealth.

In 2000 Braithwaite was asked to join Saint Thomas Health System of Nashville, Tennessee as their Vice President of Public & Government Affairs. The following year Braithwaite was promoted to be the Chief Advocacy Officer of St Thomas's parent company, Ascension Health, the nation's largest not-for-profit faith-based hospital system. In this role he returned to Washington, D.C., to focus on healthcare policy. Returning from active military duty in Pakistan in 2006, Braithwaite was hired to be the Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Hospital Council in Philadelphia where he helped to lead the merger of DVHC into the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) becoming a Senior Vice President of HAP in 2007.

In the fall of 2011, after retiring from military service, Braithwaite joined VHA of Dallas, Texas, where he led the merger of three divisions of the company to become the Executive Officer of VHA MidAtlantic. In this role, he led the struggling divisions to become the most successful in the company within two years. In 2014 and 2015 he also helped lead the mergers of VHA, Inc., UHC and MedAssets to become Vizient, a hospital group purchasing and strategic improvement company where he served as Group Senior Vice President.

Cambridge AnalyticaEdit

In the summer of 2016, while serving as a senior mentor at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, he was approached by an associate instructor at the school to explore a potential opportunity with SCL/Cambridge Analytica which never materialized. In January 2020, CBS reported that Braithwaite may have had a business relationship with Cambridge Analytica before he became ambassador to Norway. However, in a statement to CBS News, Braithwaite acknowledged discussions with Cambridge Analytica but said they were short-lived and that he never signed an employment contract or received payment from the company.[23] Braithwaite also said the State Department Legal Office of Ethics and Financial Disclosure "concurs" that he did not have to disclose any connection to Cambridge Analytica.[24]

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington suggested that he had a conflict of interest when he presented the U.S. Ambassador's Award to Norwegian shipping magnate Thomas Wilhelmsen because Wilhelmsen's cousin and co-heir to the Wilhelmsen company Olympia Paus is married to Alexander Nix, the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica.[24] Braithwaite denied that he had a conflict of interest.[24]

Government careerEdit

Braithwaite was nominated by President Donald Trump[25] to serve as the United States Ambassador to Norway. His nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 21, 2017 by voice vote.[25]

On November 24, 2019, after the firing of Richard V. Spencer, Trump said he would nominate Braithwaite to become the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, calling him a "man of great achievement and success."[2] He was formally nominated on March 2, 2020,[26] confirmed by voice vote on May 21, 2020[27] and sworn in on May 29, 2020.[28]

Awards and decorationsEdit

Rear Adm. Braithwaite's personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Iraqi Campaign Medal, and various other awards.

Personal lifeEdit

Kenneth Braithwaite and his wife Melissa have one daughter, Grace, and one son, Harrison.[14] Braithwaite is a sailor and amateur historian.[29]


  1. ^ a b "PN657 — Civilian". U.S. Congress. 9 February 1984. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  2. ^ a b "Donald J. Trump, Verified account, @realDonaldTrump". Twitter. 24 November 2019. ...Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy.
  3. ^ Kenney, Caitlin (May 29, 2020). "Kenneth Braithwaite is sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Navy". Stripes. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Carey, Kathleen E. (24 October 2017). "Ex-Ridley Park pol picked as ambassador to Norway". The Delaware County Daily Times. Archived from the original on August 27, 2019. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  6. ^ "U.S. Ambassador to Norway: Who Is Kenneth Braithwaite?". AllGov. November 10, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Ken Braithwaite Joins VHA Inc. as Senior Vice President and Executive Officer for VHA's East Coast and Pennsylvania Offices". Marketwired via Yahoo! News. 1 November 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  8. ^ "Notable Graduates Kenneth J. Braithwaite". U.S. Naval Academy. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "Giving by individuals to projects and programs" (PDF). Penn Arts and Sciences. June 30, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d "Biography". U.S. Navy. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  11. ^ "Kenneth J. Braithwaite". U. S. Department of State. Archived from the original on February 14, 2018. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  12. ^ "Braithwaite Kenneth J. – Kingdom of Norway – October 2017" (Certificate of Competency). U.S. State Department. 15 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Rear Admiral Kenneth J. Braithwaite, II Retired". U. S. Department of the Navy. July 16, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Meehan, Patrick (23 June 2011). "Honoring Rear Admiral Kenneth J. Braithwaite, II". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  15. ^ "SECDEF Announces Flag Officer Assignments". Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  16. ^ "SECDEF Announces Flag Officer Assignments". U. S. Department of the Navy. February 27, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  17. ^ "PN296 - 1 nominee for Navy, 110th Congress (2007-2008)". 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  18. ^ "PN296 — Capt. Kenneth J. Braithwaite — Navy". U.S. Congress. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  19. ^ "Congressional Record". Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  20. ^ "Ambassador Kenneth J. Braithwaite". U.S. Embassy in Norway.
  21. ^ "U.S. Ambassador to Norway: Who Is Kenneth Braithwaite?". AllGov.
  22. ^,
  23. ^ "Esper warns of tough decisions in Pentagon budget due out next month". Washington Examiner. January 28, 2020.
  24. ^ a b c "Secretary of the Navy nominee may have had undisclosed contract with Cambridge Analytica, documents suggest".
  25. ^ a b "PN1173 — Kenneth J. Braithwaite — Department of State". U.S. Congress. 23 October 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  26. ^ "Seventeen Nominations and One Withdrawal Sent to the Senate". The White House.
  27. ^ "PN1602 — Kenneth J. Braithwaite — Department of Defense". U.S. Congress. 21 May 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  28. ^ "Kenneth Braithwaite Sworn in as Secretary of the Navy". USNI News.
  29. ^ "Ambassador Kenneth J. Braithwaite". U.S. Embassy in Norway. Retrieved February 1, 2019.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Samuel D. Heins
United States Ambassador to Norway
Succeeded by
Richard Riley
Political offices
Preceded by
James E. McPherson
United States Secretary of the Navy