Position: Chief of Staff, U.S. Secret Service
Best known for: Playing a major role in helping the Secret Service carry out its dual missions of protecting the president of the United States and investigating counterfeiting and fraud. As chief of staff, Julia Pierson maintains oversight of all the agency’s operations on behalf of the Secret Service director. She currently is focused on overseeing the modernization of the technology systems used to gather critical information, coordinate special agent assignments and prepare for presidential events and travel. Last year the agency arrested more than 9,000 individuals for counterfeiting and financial crimes, supported about 6,000 protected visits for the president, the first lady, former presidents, government officials and foreign dignitaries and screened more than a million people through magnetometers.
Government service: Pierson joined the Secret Service out of college and has worked for the agency for 29 years. She’s the agency’s highest-ranking female special agent. 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.
Biggest challenge: The president or vice president may travel to a foreign country on short notice and require specialized resources. Domestic and foreign field offices are constantly conducting complex criminal investigations and supporting protective visits to their districts. Pierson’s challenge is to synchronize the two sides of the agency’s mission so managers can implement the most strategic and cost-effective solutions.
Quote: “The Secret Service provides unique opportunities to witness history, while serving as a critical team member protecting our nation’s leaders and financial infrastructure. I don’t think people realize the amount of preparation work that goes into a presidential visit, everything from where the president is going to physically arrive, whether by airplane or limousine, to the actual event site.”