Samuel K. Skinner bigraphy, stories - White House chief of staff

Samuel K. Skinner : biography

June 10, 1938 -

Samuel Knox Skinner (born June 10, 1938) is an American politician, lawyer and businessman. Skinner served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation and White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush.

Early life and career

Skinner graduated from the University of Illinois in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science in accounting. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha, Beta Eta chapter at the University of Illinois. Upon graduation he served as a lieutenant and a tank platoon leader in the United States Army in 1960-1961. He graduated from DePaul University Law School in 1966, where he served on the law review.

Skinner has been involved in the Boy Scouts most of his life, earning the Eagle Scout award as a youth in Troop 35, Wheaton, IL, and being honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award as an adult.

From 1968 to 1975, Skinner served in the office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and, in 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed Skinner the United States Attorney.

Skinner held various sales and management positions with the IBM Corporation from 1960 to 1968. In 1967, IBM selected him Outstanding Salesman of the Year.

From 1977 to 1989, Skinner practiced law as a senior partner in the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where he served on the firm's executive committee. From 1984 to 1988, while practicing law full-time, he also served as Chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority of northeastern Illinois, the nation's second largest mass transportation district. Also during that time, President Reagan appointed Skinner as Vice Chairman of the President's Commission on Organized Crime.

He was CEO of Commonwealth Edison, CEO of US Freightways, on the board of directors of Odetics ITS, and on the board of directors of Dade Behring. Skinner also practiced with the Chicago-based law firm Hopkins & Sutter. He is currently a shareholder (partner) with the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and a Commissioner of the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure Commission, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Management and Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


Skinner was instrumental in developing President Bush's National Transportation Policy and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which served as the catalyst for the whole ITS industry.

In that capacity, he served as chief executive officer of a cabinet-level federal department with a budget of over $30 billion and a workforce of 105,000 people. As Secretary, Skinner was credited with numerous successes, including the development of the President's National Transportation Policy and the passage of landmark aviation and surface transportation legislation.

He also developed the "open skies" policy of the United States that liberalized U.S. international policy and significantly increased the number of international flights to and from the U.S. In addition, Skinner acted as the President's point person in numerous crisis situations, including the Eastern Air Lines strike, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the northern California earthquake, Hurricane Hugo, and the 1991 national rail strike. Washingtonian magazine twice gave Skinner its highest ranking for his performance as Secretary of Transportation.


Skinner is the father of Thomas V. Skinner, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's national compliance program and director of the EPA's region 5, and Jane Skinner, a former news anchor on Fox News Channel's Happening Now, and wife of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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