|77th United States Secretary of the Navy|
May 29, 2020 – January 20, 2021
|Deputy||Gregory J. Slavonic (acting)|
|Preceded by||Richard V. Spencer|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Harker (acting)|
|31st United States Ambassador to Norway|
February 8, 2018 – May 29, 2020
|Preceded by||Samuel D. Heins|
|Succeeded by||Richard Riley (acting)|
Kenneth John Braithwaite II
1960 (age 60–61)
Livonia, Michigan, U.S.
|Education||United States Naval Academy (BS)|
University of Pennsylvania (MPA)
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1984–1993 (active)|
|Rank||Rear Admiral (lower half)|
|Awards||Legion of Merit|
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Kenneth John Braithwaite II (born 1960) is an American politician, diplomat and businessman who served as the 77th secretary of the Navy from May 29, 2020, to January 20, 2021. Prior to that, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Norway, beginning February 8, 2018. Braitwaite is also a retired U.S. Navy one-star rear admiral, having served in the Iraq War. He was a top advisor to former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter from 1997 to 2000, and a borough councilman in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania from 1993 to 1996.
Early life and education
Braithwaite is from Livonia, Michigan. He attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated with a bachelor's degree in naval engineering and political science in 1984. He later earned a master's degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Fels Institute of Government, in 1995.
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.
From 1993 to 1996, Braithwaite served as town councilman for the borough of Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. He later became a top advisor for former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2000, serving as his state director.
Braithwaite was commissioned as an ensign in 1984, 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 anti-submarine patrol missions with Patrol Squadron 17 out of Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii. In April 1988 he was reassigned to public affairs duties 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.
Braithwaite's active duty service ended in 1993, but he immediately joined the Navy Reserve. He continued to perform various public affairs assignments until his retirement in 2011. From 1993 until 2002, he served in different roles with numerous commands, including the 6th Fleet, 7th Fleet, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander Carrier Group Two.
In 2002, he was selected as commanding officer of Navy Combat Camera Atlantic (Reserve) and during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was deployed with his command in support of combat operations. In 2004, he was selected as the director of the Joint Public Affairs Support Element-Reserve, part of 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 U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.
He was nominated to the rank of rear admiral (lower half) in early 2007 while serving as director of the Joint Public Affairs Support Element at Norfolk. His promotion was approved by the U.S. Senate that June. He served as the Navy's vice chief of Information until his retirement in June 2011.
Upon leaving active duty in June 1993 Braithwaite enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. 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. When ARCO was acquired by British Petroleum in 1997, 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.
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. 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.
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. Braithwaite denied that he had a conflict of interest.
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. He was formally nominated on March 2, 2020, confirmed by voice vote on May 21, and sworn in on May 29, 2020.
Awards and decorations
Braithwaite's personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, Navy Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and various other awards.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kenneth J. Braithwaite II.|
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