GRADUCon 2018 - Careers in Intelligence Panel


The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is a group of 17 federal intelligence agencies working together to protect the United States of America. They focus on an ever-expanding range of issues, from terrorist financing to drug trafficking, from climate change and environmental issues to foreign technology threats and nuclear proliferation. If you do it, they likely need it. Science and technology. Business and mathematics. Foreign language and human resources. The IC employs thousands of professionals in a wide variety of occupations. Come to this panel to see the diversity of the field and ask the experts questions about their career!


Steve Galpern, Senior Analyst, Office of Analysis, U.S. Department of State (MA History 1993, PhD History Texas 2003)

Steve Galpern is a Senior Analyst for Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). From 2014-2016, he worked outside the Department, first serving as a Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and then as Director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs on the National Security Council staff. Dr. Galpern began his U.S. Government career in 2003 as a historian at the U.S. Department of State, where he published two volumes of historical documents on U.S. foreign and national security policy. He is the author of Money, Oil, and Empire in the Middle East: Sterling and Postwar Imperialism, 1944-1971 (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Nicole B., CIA Midwest Regional Recruiter, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (MPP University of Minnesota)

Nicole is a Senior Intelligence Analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. For eleven years, she has worked on counterterrorism issues, driving intelligence collection on behalf of CIA analysts and clandestine operators, including a post in a war zone. Before joining the Agency, Nicole worked as an economist, consultant, and researcher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Gail Letzter, Technical Director, Mathematics Research Group, National Security Agency (NSA)

Dr. Gail Letzter is a senior research mathematician at the National Security Agency and is currently Technical Director for the Mathematics Research Group. Her technical accomplishments include classified advances in cryptography and communications security, and academic publications in quantum groups and representation theory. Letzter received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago. She spent the first half of her career in academia, with a position at Wayne State University, an NSF postdoc at M.I.T., and ten years as math professor at Virginia Tech. She subsequently joined the NSA as an applied research mathematician, served as Technical Director for the Director’s Summer Program (NSA’s premier undergraduate mathematics research experience), and was promoted to NSA’s senior ranks in 2014. Letzter is active in the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and is an elected member of their executive committee.

Amir Asmar, Chief, Executive Production Staff, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA(MA Middle Eastern Studies 1886)

Mr. Asmar became the Chief of Executive Production at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in February 2017. He manages a team of some 20 content and technical editors, production managers, and senior reviewers who prepare DIA’s flagship publication, the Defense Intelligence Digest. Throughout a decades-long intelligence career, Mr. Asmar’s primary area of focus was the Middle East. He served in a wide range of analytic, senior analytic, and leadership positions for the Department of the Army, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Intelligence Council. From 2010-2017, he served as the Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), responsible for maximizing defense intelligence support to senior consumers in the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, other executive branch departments, and Congressional members, staffers, and committees. He developed analytic engagement strategies with foreign partners; promoted integration across intelligence functions; and postured defense intelligence to meet future requirements by developing a MENA Strategic Intelligence Plan. He has also taught a number of Middle East-focused courses at the National Intelligence University. Mr. Asmar completed his undergraduate studies in government at Pomona College (Claremont, California) and earned his Master of Arts at the University of Chicago’s Center for Middle East Studies. Mr. Asmar also served in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Republic of Niger, West Africa


Austin Wright, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Univerity of Chicago (PhD Politics, Princeton University)

Austin L. Wright is an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He is a faculty affiliate of The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project, and non-resident fellow of the Liechtenstein Institute. His research leverages microlevel data to study the political economy of conflict and crime in Afghanistan, Colombia, Indonesia, and Iraq. His work is supported by the National Science Foundation, Niehaus Center for Global Governance, The Asia Foundation, and World Bank. He received his BA in Government and Sociology and BS in Communication Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin and his MA and PhD in Politics from Princeton University.