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Julia Pierson, 53, the former chief of staff of the Secret Service, has been named as the new director of the organization, reports The Washington Post. She will be the first female to lead the Secret Service.
BREAKING: White House appoints Julia Pierson as Director of the Secret Service, the first woman to serve in the position
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 26, 2013
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pierson Is a 30-Year Veteran of the Secret Service
Pierson joined the agency out of college in 1983. According to a Washington Post profile of Pierson:
She’s worked in field offices as a special agent and headed a Secret Service office in Florida. She has served as deputy assistant director in the Office of Administration and as deputy assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations, overseeing the agency’s Presidential Protective Division, Vice Presidential Protective Division and Special Services Division. She also held the post of assistant director of the Office of Human Resources and Training.
2. Pierson’s Previous Role Was Protecting the President
In her role as Chief of Staff, Pierson’s primary role was to administrate security for the president.
3. On 9/11 Pierson Was on Presidential Protection Detail
Pierson has previously described this as her most dangerous moment. She was responsible for the security all Presidents on that day. George W. Bush was in a school in Florida, and all other former presidents were accounted for by Pierson.
4. Her Appointment as Director May Be Reactionary
In April 2012, Barack Obama attended the Summit of the Americas in Colombia. The Secret Service agents charged with organizing the president’s travel arrangements were found guilty of misconduct having spent a night partying with prostitutes on Uncle Sam’s dime.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said this event was not “isolated.” The scandal resulted in the firing or early retirement of nine of the 13 agents involved. It’s speculated that Pierson’s promotion may be a direct reaction to that scandal.
5. Pierson Was Endorsed by the Former Director
Former Director Mark Sullivan said ahead of Pierson’s appointment on Tuesday:
I have known and worked with Julie for close to thirty years. She was an excellent Assistant Director and Chief of Staff, demonstrating sound judgment, leadership, character, and commitment to our Country, the men and women of the U.S. Secret Service and those we serve and protect. This is a historic and exciting time for the Secret Service and I know Julie will do an outstanding job.
6. Pierson Has Previously Stated Her Desire to Expand the Secret Service’s Horizons
In a 2007 interview, Pierson said:
You don’t have to be 6-feet-4-inches, 300 pounds and built like a linebacker. We encourage agents to let us know what they want to do. We want to know their areas of interest, and we try to match them up with those kinds of assignments. You constantly hear our employees talk about the mission. I think that goes to the Type-A personalities we attract, and the criticality of being able to multi-task and meet deadlines. We’re a small agency with a large mission.
7. This Job Does Not Require Approval of the Senate
The appointment is soley at the discretion of the president. President Obama said upon announcing Pierson’s promotion:
Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day, Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own.
8. Pierson Was at the Forefront of Credit Card Fraud Investigations
In the beginnings of Pierson’s career with the CIA, she began in Miami where credit card fraud was beginning to become prevalent. Ironically, Pierson’s first Secret Service pay check was stolen by thieves, she says:
They sent me an ATM card and a password, both of which were intercepted by criminals in the mail. My first paycheck was wiped out at the ATM. I went back to the bank—it was one of the banks I was going to be working with—and said, “Can you help me out here?” And they said, “No, sorry.” So that was an interesting way for a young officer to get started in the Secret Service.
9. Pierson’s First Job Was at Disneyworld
Having grown up in central Florida, Pierson’s first job as a teenager was in Disneyworld Orlando. Pierson says of this time:
In high school, I worked at Disney World. I started off in the parking lot, advanced to watercraft, and I wore one of those character outfits for a while in Americans on Parade. To this day, I think the experience of dealing with large crowds at the park had a good influence on my ability to do that sort of work with the Secret Service.
After leaving high school, Pierson spent three years working in the Orlando Police Department while also studying at the University of Central Florida.
10. The Secret Service Was Set Up in 1865
The Secret Service was created on the day of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. It’s sole purpose during the agency’s infancy was to stamp out counterfeit which was widespread as a result of the Civil War.
As a result of the 1901 murder of President McKinley, the Secret Service was appointed protectors of the office of president.