Scope of the Position:

The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is in charge of one of the most secretive and divisive organizations in the United States. The fact that neither the budget nor the number of personnel the agency employs can be disclosed is just one example of why it creates a sharp divide among the American public. The Director serves as the public face of the organization to Congress, the presidential administration, and the general public.

Illustrative Management Challenges:

In April 2015, the CIA released a report documenting a study that examined the state of diversity in and among the organization's leadership. The report found that the organization lacked diversity of leadership in many ways and in different areas of the organization.1 In addition to the report finding that senior leadership has not prioritized diversity in the upper level of management for the Agency, CIA officers of color or of different ethnic backgrounds report having had different experiences based on their race. In response to these and other issues, in February 2016 the CIA released a report outlining its strategic initiative to foster diversity in the Agency, to be completed between 2016 and 2019. The report outlines various actions to be taken by the Agency for diversity improvement. Yet all actions taken are meant to advance one of three goals: Weaving diversity and inclusion throughout the talent cycle, becoming an employer of choice, and increasing the diversity of leadership.2 On June 30, 2016, Director John Brennan released an update on the progress made thus far. Some of the advancements include the implementation of diversity-focused performance expectations for all Senior Intelligence Service (SIS) officers, updating the CIA Ethos, and having Agency senior leadership conduct Unconscious Bias Training.3 However, these improvements are not enough. The Director must keep the Agency accountable for pursuing these goals to the best of its ability. This entails striving to implement every action that the 2016 report outlines with these goals in mind.


     1Director's Diversity in Leadership Study: Overcoming Barriers to Advancement;
     2CIA Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2016-2019);
     3Statement from Director Brennan on DLS Year One Implementation; June 30, 2016.      

CIA Directors:

The majority of CIA Directors come from intelligence and/or military backgrounds and have served primarily in extremely high levels within their respective organizations. Given the secret nature and the level of influence that this position holds, many CIA Directors served as senior advisors to the President in some capacity prior to their appointment.

Current Incumbent:

John O. Brennan (2013-Present): Before being appointed as Director, Brennan served in the White House as the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. He began his career in the public-sector in 1980 at the CIA, where held many different position, including in the Directorate of Analysis, Chief of Staff to Director George Tenet, and the Deputy Executive of Director of the CIA.

Previous Directors:

Michael J. Morell (Acting, 2012- 2013; 2011-2012): Morell is currently serving as a Senior Counselor for Beacon Global Strategies. Morell's previous positions consist of many different roles in the CIA. He has worked in various capacities with analysis and management for the Agency, as the Director of the Office of Asian Pacific and Latin American Analysis, as the Executive Assistant to CIA Director George J. Tenet, and as the Executive and Deputy Director of the Agency.

David Petraeus (2011-2012): Petraeus is currently a partner at the private New York equity firm KKR & Company. His previous positions include Commander of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan in 2010, commanding officer of U.S Central Command in 2008, General of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq in 2007, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division, and an academic at West Point and Princeton.

Leon E. Panetta (2009-2011): Leon E. Panetta is the co-founder of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy and currently serves as its Chairman. His previous positions have consisted of serving as the Secretary of Defense, Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, U.S. Representative for California's 16th and 17th districts, a private practice lawyer, and Director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. Panetta also served in the U.S. Army. He received his JD from the Santa Clara School of Law.

Michael V. Hayden (2006-2009): Hayden is currently a Principal with The Chertoff Group. Hayden's previous positions include First Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Director of the National Security Agency, Commander of the Air Intelligence Agency, Director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center, and Chief of the Central Security Service.

Porter J. Goss (2004-2006): Prior to serving as CIA Director, Goss spent 15 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Florida's 13th and 14th congressional districts. Prior to that worked in the CIA, completing multiple missions abroad. Goss began his career in the U.S. Army where he worked as an intelligence officer.

George John Tenet (1997-2004): Tenet recently was a managing director with Allen & Company in New York City. He served as the Director for Intelligence Programs with the National Security Council immediately prior to being appointed by President Clinton to the Director of the CIA. Tenet held various staff positions with the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate from 1982-1993. He began his career as the Director of the American Hellenic Institute.

Additional Resources: