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Barbara Thompson

Former Director, Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy

Barbara A. Thompson is a Board Member of ZERO TO THREE, and most recently was Director, Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Contributions to the Field

As the former director of the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, Ms. Thompson was responsible for programs and policies that promote military families’ well-being, readiness and quality of life. In this capacity, she had oversight for Department of Defense child development and youth programs, which serve 700,000 children daily at more than 300 locations worldwide. Ms. Thompson had purview over military family readiness programs, including spouse well-being and career advancement, military family lifecycle and transition support, and community capacity building to support geographically dispersed military members and their families. She also had oversight of the Family Advocacy Program and Exceptional Family Member Program.

Prior to assuming these duties, Ms. Thompson coordinated support programs for severely injured service members and their families and supported the rebuilding of the Ministry of Education in Iraq.

She spent 18 years with Air Force family programs, most recently as the child development program and youth training and curriculum specialist at Air Force Headquarters. During her tenure with the Air Force, Ms. Thompson was an integral member of the team that helped more than 98 percent of Air Force child-development programs achieve accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

As a leader in the field of early childhood education, in 2003-2005 Ms. Thompson participated in ZERO TO THREE’s prestigious “Leaders for the 21st Century” program as one of only 11 Harris Fellows. This leadership-development initiative provided experienced professionals with an established record of leadership and achievement with an opportunity to collaborate with top leaders from many disciplines and receive assistance for an innovative project aimed at improving the lives of young children.

In 2014, Ms. Thompson received the Ellen Swallow Richards Public Service Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Board on Human Sciences, Inc. This award honors a nationally recognized leader who has a significant history of promoting and advancing the human sciences.

Ms. Thompson is a graduate of St. Louis University with a Bachelor of Arts in early education and Spanish. She received her master’s degree in management from Troy State University.

Recent Publications

  • Co-authored chapter in Parenting and Children’s Resilience in Military Families, edited by Abigail H. Gewirtz and Adriana M. Youseff, Springer, 2016.
  • Co-Authored chapter in Couples-Based Interventions for Military and Veteran Families, edited by Douglas K. Snyder and Candice M. Monson, Guildford Press, July 2012.
  • United Facilities Criteria for Child Care Centers
  • ZERO TO THREE’s “Life Support: A System of Care for Military Families” Vol. 25 NO.6, July 2005, pp.49-53
  • ZERO TO THREE’s “ An Effective Response to Tragedy: The Pentagon Family Assistance Center” Vol. 22 NO.3, December 2001, pp.43-44
  • Early Childhood Environments: Facilitating Children’s Learning- Educational Video Production, Department of the Air Force, 1996. Producer, Writer, and Editor.


  • 2017, National Military Family Association’s Support of Military Families Award
  • 2017, Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service
  • 2015, Child Care Exchange Master Leader award
  • 2014 recipient of the Ellen Swallow Richards Public Service Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board on Human Sciences, Inc.
  • 2003 DC Mayor’s Quality Partner Award for contributions to modernize their inspection system
  • Air Force Meritorious Award for Outstanding Child Development Center Director. 1987-88.