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Director Brennan Speaks at NSEPA Conference

CIA Director John Brennan delivered the keynote address at the National Security Executives and Professionals Association (NSEPA) 3rd Annual National Security and Intelligence Career Development and Leadership Summit in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 21st. The summit brought together nearly 180 African American professionals from across the Intelligence Community (IC) and included a panel discussion with presidents from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and breakout sessions with senior officers from across the IC.  HBCUs represented included Bowie State University, Florida A&M University, Grambling State University, Miles College, North Carolina A&T University, Shorter College, and Southern University.

In his introductory remarks, Dr. Reginald King, President of NSEPA, underscored Director Brennan’s deep commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion efforts at CIA and highlighted his previous outreach activities with the Atlanta University Center and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “Mr. Brennan has taken the conversation about diversity and inclusion further than it has ever been taken in my 26 years with the Agency,” Dr. King said. He conveyed that a key goal of the event was to facilitate engagement between the IC and HBCU presidents to strengthen partnerships and broaden the applicant pool for careers in the IC

In his keynote address, Director Brennan reflected on his tenure at CIA prior to becoming D/CIA and underscored the impetus for his commitment to diversity and inclusion: “CIA, with its global responsibilities, can make a stronger business case than any other organization for having a diverse and inclusive workforce.” To further emphasize the business case, he addressed the critics who suggest that diversity efforts are a distraction from the Agency’s mission. “Our diversity and inclusion efforts are part and parcel, and wholly designed to support our mission,” Director Brennan said. “If we’re going to make headway, we cannot see these efforts as separate.”

He outlined the findings of the Diversity in Leadership Study—which he commissioned in 2014 and released publicly on June 30th, 2015—highlighting the accountability measures and senior leadership commitment the study called for. “I’ve made it clear to my senior leadership team that rhetorical support is not enough,” said Director Brennan. “There needs to be tangible action—I expect my leaders to be walking the talk.”

CIA has taken several steps in response to the DLS recommendations. In October 2015, seven Action Teams, comprised of officers from across the Agency, were formed to address specific recommendations from the study. Additionally, all Senior Intelligence Service officers received a performance objective that they will be evaluated against, along with examples of key activities to fulfill the objective. Senior officers will be required to take diversity and inclusion training, and diversity and inclusion themes are being woven into existing Agency training to underscore that diversity and inclusion are a part of—not separate from—mission.

“I am particularly proud of what we’ve achieved thus far, and I am proud that CIA is at the forefront on these issues,” Director Brennan said as he closed. “One of the reasons I feel so strongly about this, is because of my New Jersey roots,” he continued. “Too many times, people I grew up with would say things about particular groups, and I am ashamed of how silent I was—because I wanted to be a part of the in-crowd. When I returned to the CIA as director, I realized that the Agency is this jewel the country has, and I promised myself that I would never be silent on these issues again.”

Following his remarks, NSEPA presented Director Brennan with a plaque of appreciation and NSEPA’s challenge coin for his exemplary leadership and continued commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the IC.

Posted: Jun 06, 2016 04:51 PM
Last Updated: Jun 06, 2016 04:51 PM