Ms. Sanborn retired from her position as Associate Executive Director and General Counsel of the American Bar Association (ABA) in September 2019. Prior to assuming that position, she had served in the U.S. Air Force as an executive officer, commander and judge advocate and was the first woman on active duty promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the judge advocate corps of any service.
During her military legal career, she was assigned as the chief legal counsel in several military organizations, among them the U.S. Space Command, U.S. Transportation Command, and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). She deployed to Oman and Saudi Arabia at the outset of the first Gulf War as chief counsel for the combined fighter and airlift wings she supported. She helped build the first homeland defense command, U.S. Northern Command, established after the attacks on September 11, 2001, serving as its first chief counsel. As a military attorney, she provided legal counsel on ethics and compliance matters, and advised on a broad range of practice areas: from labor, procurement, environmental, administrative and criminal law, to military operations, international and space law. While in U.S Space Command, she advised on matters pertaining to U.S. activities in space, as well as offensive and defensive cyber operations. In the U.S. Transportation Command, her legal staff supported global land, air, sealift and other logistics operations for the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, working closely with both government and commercial organizations to support the U.S. armed forces and overseeing the delivery of legal services to an organization of 150,000 people.
After her retirement from the Air Force and before joining the ABA, Ms. Sanborn worked as a private consultant for the Department of Defense and private and commercial entities. In June 2019, she joined the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services whose members are appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters related to the recruitment, retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of women in the Armed Forces.