Gene Barr is a former CEO and current advisor to the PA Chamber. Barr joined the PA Chamber in February 2003. He served for more than eight years as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs before being elected President in October 2011, a position which he held until June 2022. During his tenure, he has worked on many significant legislative and regulatory efforts critical to improving Pennsylvania’s business climate.
Barr has more than 40 years of experience in various facets of government, political and public affairs activity, and business operations. He worked for BP America (the U.S. subsidiary of British Petroleum) for more than 12 years, including 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 across six states.
In 1992, Barr joined the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, the state office of the American Petroleum Institute, as Associate Director. There he handled all legislative, regulatory, and media activity affecting major oil companies. He was named Executive Director of API in 1997.
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 has previously served as a board member and chair of the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board and 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.
He is currently a member of both the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and 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 member of the Council of State Chambers; the U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, Committee of 100, and Nominating and Governance Committee; and the Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial. Barr also serves on the boards of the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education, the Bridge Educational Foundation, and United Way of the Capital Region.
In 2021, Barr was ranked number 10 on City & State Pennsylvania’s “Power 100” list of the key players in Pennsylvania’s political process. He has been recognized as ‘The Most Effective Association Lobbyist’ in the Commonwealth Pennsylvania Legislative Services and was included in Pennlive/Patriot-News’ 2017 list of the 17 most influential people in Pennsylvania politics.
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. He is a board member and former chair of the National Civil War Museum and the author of a non-fiction book on the American Civil War, A Civil War Captain and His Lady: A True Story of Love, Courtship, and Combat.