Julia A. Pierson, the highest-ranking female agent in the U.S. Secret Service, will be sworn in today at the White House to head the Secret Service, where she has worked for over 30 years.
So who is this fearless leader?
Pierson, 53, has been chief of staff in the director’s office in Washington since 2008. She began her career at the Orlando Police Department before joining the Secret Service three years later. Pierson has held a variety of protective and investigative assignments over the last three decades, including serving on the presidential protective details of Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
A tidbit about Pierson you may not know or hear much about is that she is also a former Disney World employee. As a teen, she worked in the Disney parking lot, advancing to watercraft, and eventually dressed as a character in the park’s famed Americans on Parade. In a 2007 Smithsonian magazine interview with Pierson, she credits her experience of dealing with large crowds at the park as being a good influence on her ability to do that sort of work with the Secret Service.
It’s no secret that the agency has been riddled with scandal. First order of business for Pierson will be to reform the traditional, male-dominated culture of the agency trying to reestablish and restore its credibility with the American public.
In announcing her appointment yesterday, President Obama said, “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. Julia has had an exemplary career, and I know these experiences will guide her as she takes on this new challenge to lead the impressive men and women of this important agency.”