1st female director of Secret Service named

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 7:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday named a high-ranking career employee of the Secret Service to become its first female director.

Julia A. Pierson, a veteran of the agency's Miami and Orlando field offices, is chief of staff of the law enforcement agency that is best known for protecting the president.

The agency Pierson will head has more than 150 offices throughout the United States and abroad. Established to combat counterfeiting of U.S. currency, the agency protects national and visiting foreign leaders, secures national sites and events, and conducts related criminal investigations.

In announcing her appointment, Obama cited Pierson's 30 years of experience with the Secret Service and her leadership roles in protective operations, human resources and training.

“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,” Obama said.

As Obama puts together his team for the second term, Pierson is the first woman he has appointed to head a national security agency. Obama faced some criticism when he named men to head three of the most high-profile departments: the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA.

He has, however, named a number of female appointees, including Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department, Gina McCarthy to be the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Mary Jo White to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission and Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. And Pierson will answer to Janet Napolitano, who is staying on as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

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