Barbara McNamara joined NSA in 1963 as a Chinese linguist. She served in several analytic, operational, and managerial positions in the Operational Directorate until 1983 when she became the Executive Assistant to the Director. Following several high-level management positions, she was named the NSA representative to the Department of Defense. In 1994, she became the first woman to be named Deputy Director of Operations.
Ms. McNamara reached the highest civilian position at NSA in 1997 when she was named the Agency's Deputy Director. In 2000, she became the first woman to hold the position of Senior United States Liaison Officer to London. Ms. McNamara received several prestigious awards, and in June 2000, she received the Intelligence Community's highest award, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.
Barbara McNamara retired in 2003.