President Obama named the Secret Service’s first female director on Tuesday. The candidate, Julia Pierson, is a 30-year veteran of the agency and will replace Mark Sullivan, who resigned in February amid controversy surrounding the April 2012 prostitution scandal.
Though Pierson was the obvious choice — she served as the agency’s chief of staff before she was named director — her appointment as the first female director draws a stark contrast between the agency’s testosterone-heavy culture and its recent controversies.
The Secret Service initially was scrutinized after a dozen agents were exposed partying (and a few paid for sex) with prostitutes in Columbia days before Obama’s arrival for a diplomatic summit. Then-director Sullivan claimed the incident was an isolated one, but it was quickly revealed that it definitely was not as a slew of sexual misconduct incidents were uncovered, as well as pattern of risky behavior on behalf of the agents.
Surely, Obama hopes Pierson will be able to clean up the agency’s tarnished reputation.
“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,” President Obama said in a statement announcing her appointment on Tuesday. “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.”
Sullivan, as well, believes Pierson to be more than capable as head of the Secret Service.
“I have known and worked with Julie for close to thirty years. She was an excellent Assistant Director and Chief of Staff, demonstrating sound judgment, leadership, character, and commitment to our Country, the men and women of the U.S. Secret Service and those we serve and protect,” Sullivan wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. “This is a historic and exciting time for the Secret Service and I know Julie will do an outstanding job.”