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The Honorable Ray Mabus

Disruptor and change agent; Navy Secretary (2009-2017); CEO (2006-2007); Ambassador (1994-96); Governor (1988-1992); State Auditor (1984-1988)

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Secretary Ray Mabus is the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy, the longest to serve as leader of the Navy and Marine Corps since World War I. He has been a disrupter and a change leader throughout his career, from attacking entrenched public corruption as Mississippi’s State Auditor in the early 1980s to revolutionizing the Navy and Marine Corps as Secretary of the Navy under President Obama.

Throughout his tenure, Secretary Mabus has focused on four key priorities – People, Platforms, Power and Partnerships – that enable the Navy and Marine Corps’ unique ability to maintain the global presence that reassures our allies and deters our adversaries.

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Ray Mabus


Ray Mabus is the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy, the longest to serve as leader of the Navy and Marine Corps since World War I.

Throughout his tenure, Secretary Mabus has focused on four key priorities - People, Platforms, Power and Partnerships – that enable the Navy and Marine Corps' unique ability to maintain the global presence that reassures our allies and deters our adversaries.

Responsible for an annual budget in excess of $170 billion and leadership of almost 900,000 people, Secretary Mabus has worked to improve the quality of life of Sailors, Marines and their families; decrease the Department’s dependence on fossil fuels; strengthen partnerships with industry and internationally; and increase the size of the Navy fleet.

During his tenure, the Navy went from building fewer than five ships per year to having 86 ships under contract, an average of 14 ships per year. Most of those contracts are fixed-price, multi-year deals assuring value for taxpayers and certainty for the Navy's industry partners. Mabus' shipbuilding efforts reversed the decline of the Navy's fleet and will increase it to more than 300 ships by the end of the decade despite fiscal constraints.

Leading the world's only global Navy, Mabus has traveled over 1.3 million miles, visited over 150 countries and territories and all 50 states, to meet with Sailors and Marines forward deployed or stationed around the world, to maintain and develop international relationships, and to reconnect the American public with the Navy and Marine Corps, which he calls “America’s Away Team.” He has traveled to Afghanistan on 12 separate occasions, in recognition of the sacrifice and service of Sailors and Marines deployed in combat zones.

To prepare service members and their families for the high-tempo operations of today’s Navy and Marine Corps, Mabus announced in 2012 the “21st Century Sailor and Marine” initiative, designed to build and maintain the most resilient and ready force possible. He recently announced the tripling of paid maternity leave, from six weeks to 18 weeks.

Mabus also directed the Navy and Marine Corps to change the way they use, produce and acquire energy, setting an aggressive goal of relying on alternative sources for at least 50% of their energy by 2020. In 2012, President Obama announced in his State of the Union address that the Navy and Marine Corps would purchase or facilitate the production of 1GW of renewable energy (50 percent of total shore energy) for use on Navy and Marine Corps installations by 2020. This goal will be reached four years early. The Navy also demonstrated the Great Green Fleet in 2012, a carrier strike group in which every participating U.S. Navy ship and type of aircraft operated on alternative energy sources including nuclear energy and biofuels.

In June 2010, as an additional duty, President Obama appointed Mabus to prepare the long-term recovery plan for the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mabus’ report was released in September 2010 and met with broad bi-partisan support with most recommendations being passed into law by Congress as the Restore Act. Included in the legislation was a fund to aid in the Gulf Coast’s recovery by distributing 80 percent of any civil penalties awarded as a result of the damage caused by the disaster. To date, civil penalties total more than five billion dollars.

Before his appointment by President Obama, Mabus held a variety of leadership positions. From 1988 to 1992, Mabus served as Governor of Mississippi, the youngest elected to that office in more than 150 years. Mabus was Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1994-1996 and later was Chairman and CEO of a manufacturing company which he led out of bankruptcy.

Mabus has been recognized for his leadership of the Navy and Marine Corps on multiple occasions. In 2013, he was named one of the top 50 highest rated CEOs by Glassdoor, an online jobs and career community. Mabus was the only person in government to receive this award

Secretary Mabus is a native of Ackerman, Mississippi, and received a Bachelor's Degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Mississippi, a Master's Degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Law Degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. After Johns Hopkins, Mabus served in the Navy as an officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.

Speech Topics

We face dynamic global security environment, more complicated than at any time in the post-WW II era, with China increasingly flexing its muscles, a revanchist Russia, wild cards in the Middle East and Northwest Asia and non-state actors – even lone wolves – spreading terror.

The leader of the world’s only global Navy and Marine Corps for the last eight years, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and a former CEO, Ray Mabus is the most traveled senior government leader ever, logging over 1.3 million miles to visit with Sailors, Marines and senior political and military leaders in 153 separate countries and territories.

Mabus offers a unique, insider’s perspective on the challenges and opportunities, the risks and potential rewards facing not just those concerned about national security, but also those whose businesses are impacted by international events – which means every business.

Achieving leadership generally is a long, hard and uphill road and those who travel it frequently take great risks in their climb, but too many become risk-averse once they actually achieve the pinnacle.

Ray Mabus has been a disruptor and change leader throughout his career.  As counsel to Mississippi Gov. William Winter, Mabus wrote and helped pass the nation’s first sweeping state education reform act.  As Mississippi Auditor, he fearlessly joined forces with the FBI to tackle public corruption.  As Governor, he revived the education reform movement and passed the largest teacher pay increase in the country.  As Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, he challenged State Department orthodoxy and stood up for U.S. citizens and businesses.  As CEO of Foamex, he brought that publicly traded manufacturing company out of bankruptcy in less than a year with no loss of equity and no loss to creditors.  And as the longest serving Navy Secretary since WW I, Mabus rebuilt the fleet, revolutionized energy policy by moving the Navy and Marine Corps away from fossil fuels and toward renewable alternatives.

Mabus urges leaders to lead for change, instead of changing who they are once they have the opportunity to lead.  “Don’t tell me what we can’t do, or what we’ve always done.  Let’s reimagine what’s possible and then get that done.”  That’s the mantra that Mabus has relied on to achieve dramatic change in even a large and tradition-oriented institution like the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Retreating Arctic ice is opening new sea lanes, which Russia threatens to treat as its own internal waterway.  Rising sea levels are putting millions of Americans, as well as U.S. military bases, at risk here and upwards of 250 million people around the world. More frequent and more intense storms jeopardize the global economy and civil order.

There is no doubt that climate change is happening and the science overwhelming concludes who is responsible and what can be done.  Doing nothing will be catastrophic and far more costly than taking advantage of the opportunities that are coming with a new energy economy in which the United States will be a leader or will cede leadership to others.  An increasingly aggressive Russia used energy as a weapon in annexing Crimea, but it is vulnerable as well since more than half its income is from oil and gas sales.  China has become a leader in renewables partly in response to its life-threatening pollution issues.

As President Clinton’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ray Mabus saw the geo-political impact of energy up close.   As Navy Secretary, Mabus committed the Department– the third largest energy consumer in the world – to an ambitious set of goals revolutionizing which fuels are used, how they are used and how they are procured.  Today, more than half of Navy energy ashore comes from non-fossil fuels and by 2020 that will be true at sea as well.  Along the way, Navy’s efforts helped significantly promote domestic renewable energy production.  With the reminder that “the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones,” Mabus analyzes the rapidly changing global energy situation, the critical nature of the challenges and the key opportunities, as well as providing insights on how to bring dramatic change to one of the world’s largest organizations.


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