The Cipher Brief Academy Transition 101 Course


Course: TRANSITION 101
Monday, January 11 – Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Course fee: $339 includes a copy of the book, Mission: Career Transition by instructor and former CIA Officer, Alison Bouwmeester

The Cipher Brief Academy is pleased to announce our next Cipher Brief Training Course, Transition 101. This 3-session course is offered to national security professionals looking to transition their skills from government to the private sector.

During this course, you will hear from a variety of instructors and guest speakers covering real-world topics including:

• Identify private sector opportunities that best fit your interests and skills
• Create a public profile focused on building a strong professional network
• What to watch for when using social media platforms like LinkedIn
• How to work with media to build your brand and not get burned

To register for The Cipher Brief Academy’s Transition 101 course, complete this form.


Students will hear from a variety of instructors and guest speakers with experience in both worlds and will have the opportunity to engage in question and answer sessions.

The virtual summer session runs January 11-13th from 5:00p – 6:30p ET. Students must be U.S. citizens. Those who complete the course will be invited to in a private Transition 101 LinkedIn Group for future networking opportunities. Space is limited.

Register Now


Alison Bouwmeester
Author, Career Coach, Former CIA Officer

Author and Career Coach Alison P. Bouwmeester served for 28 years as a senior leader in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations. After retiring from the CIA, she spent nearly a decade as a senior business executive in the defense contracting industry, rising to Vice President for Business Development. In 2018, Alison became a Certified Professional Career Coach and founded Futurity to coach others through successful career transitions as a someone who has “walked the walk”. She is the author of Mission: Career Transition: A Career change Guide for Intelligence, Military, Foreign Affairs, National Security, and Other government Professionals.

Bill Harlow
Former CIA, DOD and White House Spokesman (& Cipher Brief Senior Book Editor)

Bill Harlow offers tips on building your brand in the media and social media age. Many people (by regulation and choice) steer clear of dealing with the media while they are government employees. But once they enter the private sector – creating a public profile can be helpful in advancing their careers. Bill will talk about getting your name and opinions out there – through social media, OPEDs, and becoming a resource for the media outlets. Harlow is the author of Circle William, about a White House Press Secretary described as a master of spin. He is also the co-author of several non-fiction national security books, including George Tenet’s New York Times #1 Bestseller “At the Center of the Storm.”

Leslie Ireland
Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis

Leslie joined Treasury in 2010 after 25 years at CIA where she specialized in Iran, the Middle East and WMD. Ms. Ireland retired from government service in November 2016 after spending more than 31 years in the Intelligence Community. Prior to joining the Treasury Department, from 2008-2010 Ms. Ireland served as daily intelligence briefer to President. As the first DNI Iran Mission Manager from 2005-2008, she served as the principal advisor to the DNI on Iran and was responsible for overseeing the intelligence process on Iran for the entire US government. Ms. Ireland is the recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest award bestowed by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Mark Kelton
Former Deputy Director of Counterintelligence, CIA

Mark Kelton is a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations. Before retiring, he served as CIA’s Deputy Director for Counterintelligence. He is the Senior Vice President for National Security Solution at DynCorp International; and is Board Chair of Spookstock, a charity that benefits the CIA Memorial Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Mike LeFever
Former Director of Strategic Operational Planning, National Counterterrorism Center, CEO of Concentric

Mike LeFever, CEO of Concentric, a risk consultancy specializing in strategic security and intelligence services. Mike recently retired from the United States Navy after serving for over 38 years, finishing his military career as the Director of Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center, within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Previously, he served as both the Commander of the Office of Defense Representative in Pakistan and the Commander of the Joint Task Force in Pakistan, leading all US Armed Forces in Pakistan between 2008-2011. 

Evan Lesser
Co-Founder and President of

Evan H. Lesser is the Co-Founder and President of Before founding ClearanceJobs, Lesser managed technical projects with CACI for the U.S. Navy’s Science and Technology directorate at the Pentagon, and for the Joint Technology Panel on Electronic Warfare.

Suzanne Kelly
CEO & Publisher, The Cipher Brief

Suzanne Kelly is the founder of The Cipher Brief, a national security focused publication that provides expert insights on security issues. She also runs The Cyber Initiatives Group focused on cyber security with principals that include General Michael Hayden, General Keith Alexander, FireEye CEO Keven Mandia, Rick Ledgett and Matt Olsen. In addition to TCB and CIG, Kelly also produces The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, GA. which has become the nation’s premiere national security conference focused on the public and private sectors. Kelly is a former Intelligence Correspondent for CNN, where she co-founded and co-developed the Security Clearance Blog.

Ken Stiles
Professor, Virginia Tech and CIA Veteran

Kenneth L. Stiles, a retired CIA officer with 29 years of experience currently lectures at Virginia Tech for the Hume Center for National Security &  Technology and the Department of Geography. Stiles has worked with major entities throughout the Intelligence Community and National Security arena: US Military Commands, SOCOM, JSOC, USCG, ONI, NGIC, MCIA, DIA, NSA, FBI, DoS, DoE, as well as other domestic and foreign units. Stiles is a USG Certified Level II COTR. 

Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg
President, Intelligence & National Security Alliance (INSA)

Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg became president of INSA and INSF (501c3) on December 1, 2019. As president, Suzanne oversees INSA’s finances, strategic planning, marketing, events, and corporate partnerships. She leads strategic initiatives across the organization focused on building the association’s brand, strengthening member value, and growing and diversifying member ranks. Since 2010, Suzanne has held various leadership positions at INSA, most recently serving as the organization’s first Chief Operating Officer. She was the driving force behind INSA’s expansion into markets outside the Washington, DC region, as well as its popular, The New IC symposium, which focuses on diversity with inclusion in the intelligence community. Suzanne works closely with the executive leadership team, advisory committee, and members of the board of directors to coordinate policy initiatives and programs on issues that are key to the intelligence and national security community. Prior to INSA, she served as Vice President of Marketing for Ripple Communications, a woman-owned strategic communications firm. 



Monday, January 11 / 5:00 – 6:30p

WELCOME: Course overview
Suzanne Kelly, CEO & Publisher, The Cipher Brief

‘My Mission Moving from the Military to the Private Sector’
SPEAKER: Mike LeFever, Former Director of Strategic Operational Planning, National Counterterrorism Center

INSTRUCTOR: Alison Bouwmeester, Author, Mission: Career Transition: A Career Change Guide for Intelligence, Military, Foreign Affairs, National Security and other government professionals

Tuesday, January 12 / 5:00 – 6:30p


‘What you Need to Know About Success in the Private Sector’
SPEAKER: Leslie Ireland, Former Assistant of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis

‘Job Seeking During a Pandemic’
SPEAKER: Evan Lesser, CEO of ClearanceJobs

‘The Art of Networking’
SPEAKER: Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg, INSA

‘My Career Counterintelligence Mission: What to Look for and Who Might be Looking for You’
SPEAKER: Mark Kelton, former Deputy Director of Counterintelligence, CIA,

Wednesday, January 13 / 5:00 – 6:00p


‘Using Media to your Advantage’
INSTRUCTION: Suzanne Kelly, CEO & Publisher, The Cipher Brief

‘Making the Most of your 15-Minutes’
INSTRUCTOR: Bill Harlow, Former CIA, DOD and White House Spokesman (& Cipher Brief Senior Book Editor)

COURSE WRAP UP – Networking, LinkedIn private group, etc., future sessions


To register for The Cipher Brief Academy’s Transition 101 course, complete this form.