Captain Theresa M. Claiborne attended the University of California at Berkeley for Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC). On June 20, 1981, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. 

She graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, TX on September 16, 1982 in Class 82-08 as the first African American female pilot in the U. S. Air Force. 

On January 15, 1990, Theresa joined United Airlines as a pilot on a Boeing 727. She has since been qualified on and flown a Boeing 737, 747, 757, and 767. She is currently flying as a Captain on the 757/767 and has accumulated a total of over 15,000 civilian flying hours. She is one of 14 African American female pilots at United Airlines. 

Captain Claiborne is the founding President of Sisters of the Skies, a non profit 501 (3)(c) organization with the mission of developing pathways and partnerships to increase the number of black women in the professional pilot career field.