Leadership Profile: Sue Gordon, Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

By Suzanne Kelly

Suzanne Kelly is CEO and publisher of The Cipher Brief as well as founder of the Cyber Initiatives Group. Before entering the private sector, she served as CNN’s Intelligence Correspondent before spending two years in the private sector. Prior to this, she worked as an executive producer for CNN and as a news anchor at CNN International based in Berlin and Atlanta. In Berlin, Suzanne anchored a morning news program broadcast live in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and in Atlanta, she anchored a number of world news programs. She covered the NATO campaign in 1999 from Kosovo and Macedonia.

Sue Gordon’s mission to help forge the future of The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is no small task.   Consider that she leads a team of some fourteen thousand cartographers, geographers and others as they deliver a comprehensive understanding of time and space to decision makers in the military and intelligence communities.  The Bin Laden raid?  NGA provided the SEALs with details of the raid site that allowed for a mock compound to be built and months of training that helped them prepare. 

But the Bin Laden raid was more than four years ago, a lifetime when you’re leading an agency charged with understanding earth and beyond better than anyone else.   In today’s world, the intelligence agency that most effectively harnesses innovation wins, so it probably makes sense that the Deputy Director’s career at the apex of science and intelligence spans three and a half decades.  She started as a CIA analyst in the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research within the Directorate responsible for technical analysis of foreign space and missile systems.  That was 35 years ago.

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