Director of the United States Secret Service: Who Is Julia Pierson?
Literally caught with its pants down in last year's prostitution scandal—in which 13 Secret Service employees brought women, including prostitutes, back to their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia—the U.S. Secret Service for the first time has a woman as its leader, tasked with restoring the agency's tarnished reputation. A career law enforcement executive with more than 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia A. Pierson was sworn in as its 23rd Director on March 27, 2013, in the Oval Office of the White House. She succeeded Mark Sullivan, who announced his retirement in February. Pierson herself resigned October 1, 2014.
Born in Orlando, Florida, circa 1959, Pierson, like many teens in Orlando, during high school worked at Walt Disney World as a parking lot attendant, watercraft attendant, and in costume in Disney parades. She earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida in 1981, and also took some graduate courses in public policy at The George Washington University.
Pierson began her career in law enforcement as a police officer in Orlando in 1981, joining the Secret Service in 1983 as a special agent assigned to the Miami field office. In 1985, Pierson was reassigned to the Orlando Field Office, and in 1988 to the Presidential Protective Division, where she served until 1992.
Pierson served as the agency’s drug program coordinator from 1992 through 1994, and as a manager at the Office of the Protective Operations from 1995 to 1996.
Joining the agency's supervisory ranks in 1996, Pierson served as assistant special agent in charge of the Office of Protective Operations, and transferred later in the same year to the Tampa Field Office, where she established an Electronic Crimes Task Force to investigate “cyber-crimes” in the Tampa Bay area.
Returning to Washington, D.C., in 2000 to serve as special agent in charge in the Office of Protective Operations, Pierson was promoted the next year to deputy assistant director in the Office of Administration, where she oversaw the agency’s $1.4 billion dollar budget.
In 2005, Pierson returned to the Office of Protective Operations as deputy assistant director, responsible for the agency’s Presidential Protective Division, Vice Presidential Protective Division, Special Services Division, and budgetary operations for 1,200 employees.
Back to the administrative side of work, Pierson served as assistant director of the Office of Human Resources and Training from June 2006 to July 2008, where she was responsible for all human resource programs and training for the Secret Service. On August 3, 2008, Pierson was appointed chief of staff, concentrating her efforts on directing the agency’s Enterprise Transformation and Technology Modernization efforts.
To Learn More:
Obama to Name Julia Pierson as New Secret Service Director (by Scott Wilson, Washington Post)
Julia Pierson, Appointed First Female Director of U.S. Secret Service, has OPD Roots (by Henry Pierson Curtis, Orlando Sentinel)
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