Remarks as Delivered by
Letitia A. Long
Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Leadership Summit for Women in National Security Careers
May 17, 2013
Director Long: Thank you, Stu, for that kind introduction and for your continued support for women leaders in the Intelligence Community, industry, and academia. Thank you also to Carol Evans from Working Mother Media for inviting me to serve as the Honorary Chairman of the 2013 Leadership Summit for Women in National Security Careers and for hosting this forum, now in its fourth year.
This forum provides a great opportunity to bring leaders within national security together to discuss current challenges and opportunities for women in our field. It allows us to focus on the future and connect with one another.
It is an excellent way for leaders from every segment of the community—military, intelligence, homeland security, industry, and academia—to share expertise and learn strategies to expand our impact. I would not be where I am today without the advice and support of the many mentors, some of whom are here today, who guided me throughout my career. So, it is a great pleasure to serve in the capacity of Honorary Chairman of this event and to be able to give back to our nation’s future leaders.
It is my privilege to be here today to introduce the keynote speaker and a close colleague -- Betty Sapp, Director of the National Reconnaissance Office. Betty and I have had the “pleasure” of joint appearances before Congress on many occasions. We often have joined with Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stephanie O’Sullivan who will be on a panel this afternoon.
Later today, my friend Rear Admiral Elizabeth Train, the first female Director of Intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will discuss leadership and ethics. Betty, Stephanie and Liz are great examples of the extraordinary service that thousands of dedicated women give to our country through their military, intelligence, and homeland security careers.
Indeed, it is a privilege to celebrate the contributions of the more than 100 women here today. As female leaders, we bring a different perspective to the decision making process. Our diversity of thought, varied experiences, and unique insights propel innovation and often develop the best answers to our hardest intelligence questions. We bring empathy, candor and a connectedness that allows for inclusion of all ideas, which ultimately results in better decision-making.
At NGA, we demonstrate these characteristics through our Leadership Development Initiative. As a matter of fact, I have a peer coaching group every week with my Deputy Director Mike Rodrigue and Chief Operating Officer Ellen McCarthy who is here with us today. All of our senior executives have peer coaching groups. We are dedicated to building future leaders, and we are strengthening our leaders by building collaborative networks and “stepping up” to lead by example.
An excellent example of the contributions of women to national security is the math teachers-turned-cryptologists in the 1940s. Their skills helped the U.S. Army crack the Japanese diplomatic code during World War II. For 18 months, a team doggedly persisted with this difficult code until one woman cracked it. Her persistence provided invaluable information to senior U.S. policymakers throughout the war. In fact, thousands of female cryptologists did their work often not being made aware of the true scope of their impact. As the war progressed and there were fewer men to do this work, women “stepped up” and exceeded expectations with their aptitude for mathematical computation, cryptanalytic capabilities, and attention to detail. Undoubtedly, they changed the course of the war.
As current leaders, you and I have a responsibility to mentor the young professionals in our organization and the Community. I have had many mentors, both male and female, who have supported my career, in particular Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper and Joan Dempsey, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management. As they have provided valuable guidance to me, we must give back to young professionals because they will have many opportunities in their own careers to make a decisive difference.
They will look to us for guidance as role models of how to respond in critical circumstances.
I urge you to take the time today to find new mentees, expand your own network of mentors, and begin the dialogue on which good relationships are built.
By the end of the day, you will have shaped new relationships, and you will leave with a personal action plan. Use that plan to step up to the opportunities that you will find – or that will find you – in your organizations.
And it now gives me great pleasure to introduce someone whom I have developed a close relationship with over the years. Betty Sapp is an exceptional role model for the Intelligence Community. Her remarkable career demonstrates the huge value of serving in many roles across many organizations, being completely committed to mission, stepping up to new challenges, and delivering excellent results all the time. In short, her experience in acquisition, program, and financial management is unparalleled.
By the way, I recently learned that Betty is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, where NGA and our predecessor organization – the Defense Mapping Agency – have had a major operation for decades. Betty joined the Air Force instead of the DMA. Who knows what great contributions she could have made for NGA! Maybe even to include being the Director!
What we do know is that NGA’s loss has certainly been the entire Community’s tremendous gain. Betty began her service as a U.S. Air Force officer and worked in several assignments with increasing responsibilities in acquisition and financial management. She retired from the Air Force and joined the CIA in 1997 and was assigned to the NRO where she served in senior management positions.
In 2005, she was named Deputy Director, NRO for Business Plans and Operations. She was responsible for all of NRO’s multi-billion-dollar business functions, including program and budget planning, contracting, financial operations, and executive and legislative liaison activities.
In 2007, she was appointed the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Portfolio, Programs and Resources) in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. In that position, she was responsible for executive oversight of the entire portfolio of defense intelligence programs.
In April 2009, Betty was appointed the Principal Deputy Director, NRO. In this role, she provided overall day-to-day management of the NRO.
For her superb leadership and experience, she was appointed the first woman director of the NRO in July 2012. As the Director of the NRO, she has been instrumental in implementing the Evolutionary Acquisition concept. With it, the NRO has improved the capabilities of the nation’s reconnaissance satellites while also achieving significant efficiencies and reduced costs.
Betty is also the driving force behind the NRO’s proposed revolutionary future architecture. It will provide a more persistent, resilient and affordable overhead architecture and do so within constrained budgets.
In sum, Betty is a critical Senior leader in the national security community who is driving positive change during tough times.
Please welcome my friend and colleague Betty J. Sapp.