Logo of Acalvio, a leading company in cyber deception technology

Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld

Former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Four-Star Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld is the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second highest-ranking officer in the entire United States Armed Forces. A highly decorated leader, his nearly 40-year, celebrated military career includes extensive time as a fighter pilot and as an instructor at TOPGUN before he led at the Pentagon. He was one of the Navy’s best pilots before taking on larger leadership roles and commanding at every level, including serving as an aircraft carrier commander during 9/11.

Winnefeld is one of the nation’s preeminent experts on leadership in the 21st century, national security, and making sense of the current global landscape – including what’s at stake for American business. He shares the fascinating leadership stories that guided his incredible military career, offering audiences a look inside what it takes to lead change and be “combat ready” in today’s business environment.

As vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Winnefeld’s responsibilities included strategy and policy, operations, investment, training, and personnel management. He previously served as the commander of both the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Prior to that, he was director for strategic plans and policy on the Joint Staff, while he concurrently served as the senior member of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Military Staff Committee. He commanded the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, the United States Sixth Fleet, NATO Joint Command Lisbon, Striking and Support Forces NATO, and the USS Cleveland. During 9/11 he commanded the aircraft carrier the USS Enterprise, and under his leadership, it was one of the first to arrive in the theater of war.

Winnefeld served as an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), the premier fighter pilot school, and flew the F-14 Tomcat on several deployments to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. He also advised Paramount Pictures during the production of the movie Top Gun.

Winnefeld chairs the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and is a frequently published author and a director or advisory board member for public and private companies operating in a broad spectrum of business sectors. He is a Distinguished Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, where he is also a member of the Engineering Hall of Fame. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Winnefeld co-founded SAFEProject.US, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping prevent drug overdose fatalities in the United States. He is co-host of the podcast “The Adrenaline Zone” and the author of Sailing Upwind: Leadership and Risk from TopGun to the Situation Room.