American President A Reference Resource ↑ Ronald Wilson Reagan Front PageJames Burnley (1987–1989): Secretary of TransportationJames Horace Burnley was born in High Point, North Carolina, on July 30, 1948. He earned his B.A. magna cum laude at Yale University (1970) and his J.D. at Harvard University (1973). Burnley was an associate at Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard (1973-1975), and a partner at Turner, Enochs, Foster, Sparrow and Burnley (1975-1981). He then served as director of VISTA from 1981 to 1982 and as associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice from 1982 to 1983. Burnley next spent several years in the Department of Transportation, working as general counsel (1983), deputy secretary (1983-1987) and finally, secretary (1987-1989).