Off-the-Record with Michael Morell, Acting CIA Director (ret.)

February 9th: Michael Morell, former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency joined alumni of PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program (CPP) for a discussion on America’s critical national security and foreign policy challenges ahead.

This was be an off-the-record event for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program (CPP).

Michael Morell, the recently retired Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is one of the country’s most prominent national security professionals, with extensive experience in intelligence and foreign policy. He has been at the center of our nation’s fight against terrorism, its work to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape—including the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and the cyber threat.

During his 33-year career at CIA, Michael served as deputy director for over three years, a job in which he managed the Agency’s day-to-day operations, represented the Agency at the White House and Congress, and maintained the Agency’s relationships with intelligence services and foreign leaders around the world. Michael also served twice as Acting Director, leading CIA when Leon Panetta was named Secretary of Defense and again after David Petraeus left government.

Michael’s senior assignments at CIA also included serving for two years as the Director of Intelligence, the Agency’s chief analyst, and for two years as Executive Director, the CIA’s top administrator—managing human resources, the budget, security, and information technology for an agency the size of a Fortune 200 firm.

Michael has been a witness to history on multiple occasions. He is the only person who was both with President Bush on September 11th, when al-Qaida burst into the American consciousness, and with President Obama on May 1st, when Bin Laden was brought to justice. Michael played a major role in the Bin Laden operation.

Michael is known inside CIA for his leadership. He inspired individuals and work units to perform beyond expectations. He mentored most of the Agency’s current senior leadership team, including a significant number of women and minorities. When he departed CIA, thousands of officers wrote Michael notes of thanks.

Michael is the recipient of many awards. He received a Presidential Rank Award for exceptional performance. He also received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, CIA’s highest honor, for his role in the Bin Ladin operation. Michael is also the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and the Department of Defense Service Medal.

Today, Michael is involved in a wide-range of activities. He is a speaker at private events, a consultant to private-sector entities, and an occasional media commentator regarding national security issues. He is also a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies, a national security consulting firm in Washington D.C.

Michael is a native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and he maintains close ties to northeast Ohio. His father and mother—who taught him hard work, the pursuit of excellence, and humility—were an autoworker and a homemaker. Michael is a first-generation college student, earning a B.A. summa cum laude in economics from the University of Akron. He also earned an M.A. in economics from Georgetown University.

Michael is married to Mary Beth Manion. He has three children, Sarah, Luke, and Peter. Michael enjoys playing golf and tennis, watching sports, reading, and traveling. Michael is involved with charities associated with supporting the families of fallen soldiers and intelligence officers.