Gene Barr is the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the state's largest broad-based business advocacy association. He oversees all operations of the PA Chamber and its for-profit subsidiary, PA Chamber Insurance.
Barr joined the PA Chamber in February 2003. He served for more than eight years as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs prior to being elected President in October 2011. During his tenure, Barr has worked on a large number of significant legislative and regulatory efforts critical to Pennsylvania's business climate.
Barr has more than 40 years of experience in various facets of government, political and public affairs activity, as well as business operations. He worked for BP America (the U.S. subsidiary of British Petroleum) for more than 12 years. His career at BP included assignments in refining at the company's Marcus Hook, PA refinery, retail marketing at the U.S. headquarters in Cleveland, OH, and in state government affairs in BP's Atlanta, GA regional office, where he was responsible for all legislative activities in six states.
In 1992, Barr joined the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, the state office of the American Petroleum Institute, as Associate Director. This office is responsible for all legislative, regulatory and media activity affecting the major oil companies. In 1997, he was named Executive Director of API.
In 2000, he joined the law firm of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, the largest Harrisburg-based law firm, to start a government relations practice.
Barr served as a local elected official in the Philadelphia area for almost 10 years. He graduated from St. Joseph's University in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science.
Previously, Barr served as a board member and chair of the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board, as a board member for United Way of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. He was also appointed by Gov. Ed Rendell as a member of the Stimulus Oversight Commission and served as a member of Gov. Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.
Barr is a member and previous chair of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and is a member of the Early Learning Investment Commission. In 2019, he was appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to co-chair the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. He is a current member of the Council of State Chambers and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, Committee of 100 and Nominating and Governance Committee. Barr serves on the boards of the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education, the Bridge Educational Foundation and United Way of the Capital Region.
In 2017, Barr was named 'The Most Effective Association Lobbyist' in the Commonwealth in a poll conducted by Pennsylvania Legislative Services. Also that year, he was included in Pennlive/Patriot-News' list of the 17 most influential people in Pennsylvania politics and was also named as one of City & State Pennsylvania’s “Fifty Over Fifty.”
He is a board member and former chair of the National Civil War Museum and is a member of the 2017 National Security Seminar at the United States Army War College. Barr is also the author of a non-fiction book on the American Civil War, 'A Civil War Captain and His Lady' - a true 'Cold Mountain' from the Northern perspective.