O’Keefe is a longtime public administrator, national security, financial management and aerospace industry veteran who has held leadership positions in the U.S. government, higher education and business. He served as 69th Secretary of the Navy for President George H.W. Bush after joining the Administration in 1989 as Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of the Defense Department. He later served as 10th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) following a year on the White House staff as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Deputy Assistant to the President in 2001 in the George W. Bush Administration.
In October 2009, the European Aerospace Defense and Space (EADS) corporation named O’Keefe as CEO of the North America subsidiary, and later as the unit’s Chairman of the Board which was renamed Airbus Group in 2011. Prior to joining Airbus, O’Keefe was the 7th Chancellor of Louisiana State University, and previously, a Vice President of General Electric. Currently, O’Keefe is a University Professor at Syracuse University, only the 17th person in Syracuse University history to hold the senior faculty title.
O’Keefe is the recipient of the Defense Department’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the Department of Navy’s Public Service Award and has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from five higher education institutions. On three occasions, Irish American Magazine designated O’Keefe as among the Top 100 Irish Americans. O’Keefe is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and serves on the board of directors of the Partnership for Public Service. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana and master’s degree from the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.