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Name: Sapp, Betty
Current Position: Director

Betty J. Sapp was appointed Director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in April 2012 and took the helm on July 6, 2012. A highly secretive agency of the Department of Defense, the NRO coordinates the launching, targeting, and use of U.S. spy satellites, as well as the analysis of evidence collected from them. The first woman in charge of the NRO, Sapp is the second woman to lead a major intelligence agency, after Letitia “Tish” Long, who has served as director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency since August 2010. Sapp succeeded Bruce Carlson, who had served as director since June 2009.


Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Sapp earned a B.A. in Business Administration and an MBA at the University of Missouri, Columbia.


Sapp began her government career as an officer in the United States Air Force, specializing in acquisition and financial management. She served in business management positions in the NRO; program element monitor at the Pentagon for the MILSTAR geosynchronous communications satellite system; program manager for the Navy’s FLTSATCOM radio communications satellite program at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles; and manager of a joint-service development effort for the A-10 engine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.


Joining the Central Intelligence Agency in 1997, Sapp was subsequently assigned to the NRO, where she held several senior management positions, leading to her appointment as deputy director for business plans and operations in 2005. In May 2007, Sapp became acquisition and resource director for the under secretary of defense for intelligence. In July 2008, her position was renamed deputy under secretary of defense for portfolio, programs and resources. In April 2009, Sapp became principal deputy director of NRO.


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement Before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces (Betty Sapp) (pdf)

First Woman Tapped to Lead Spy Satellite Agency (Breaking Defense)

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