Sue Gordon

Transformative Leader & Disruptive Technologies Expert, Former Top-Ranking National Intelligence & National Security Official
Susan Gordon in a blue shirt and black blazer smiling at the camera in front of a greyish background
  • Over 3-decades of national security service, most recently overseeing entire Intelligence Community as No. 2 ranking intelligence official
  • Recognized for creative executive leadership through Presidential Rank Award at the distinguished level
  • Founded In-Q-Tel non-profit to deliver innovative tech solutions to national security agencies
  • Shares first-hand insights on national and cyber security, effective leadership, driving innovation, advancing diversity, and digital transformation

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Sue M. Gordon is regarded as one of the most accomplished leaders in the history of national security, having served as the country’s number two ranking intelligence official and a trusted advisor to our nation’s key decision makers. As the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI), she co-led the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and oversaw the entire Intelligence Community (IC), comprised of over a dozen agencies that collect information on threats against the United States. In particular, Gordon’s transformative leadership focused on integrating intelligence across the organization, expanding outreach and partnerships, driving innovation, and advancing diversity and inclusion throughout the Community.

With over three decades of legendary and dedicated service, Gordon has led at every level of the Intelligence Community with roles spanning numerous organizations and disciplines, learning to “see the world as it is, not as she prefers it to be.” Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, she draws on this experience to provide a nonpartisan analysis on the future of national security and cyber security, as well as inspire effective leadership in an age of disruption. Through personal anecdotes from her time in the IC, she charismatically motivates audiences to challenge the status quo, adapt to changing environments, and apply innovation to their business. Known for her ability to apply new technologies, modernize organizations, and increase collaboration, Gordon speaks expertly on the changed world in which we find ourselves today, and the importance of honing the crafts of innovation and leadership to successfully build our future.

Prior to assuming the role of PDDNI, Gordon served as the Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from 2015 to 2017. In this role, she helped to lead the agency and manage the National System of Geospatial Intelligence. Gordon was instrumental in driving NGA’s transformation to meet the challenges of a 21st century intelligence agency, championing agile governance, recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce, and expansion of geospatial intelligence services to the open marketplace.

Before her assignment with NGA, Gordon served for 27 years at the Central Intelligence Agency and was involved in some of the most monumental operations in U.S. history, including the raid of Osama Bin Laden. During her tenure, she rose to senior executive positions in each of the Agency’s four directorates: operations, analysis, science and technology, and support. In 1998, Gordon designed and spearheaded the formation of In-Q-Tel – a private, non-profit company that accelerates the development and delivery of cutting-edge technologies to national security agencies.

Gordon has been recognized for her creative executive leadership through numerous awards, including the Distinguished Intelligence and Distinguished Career Intelligence medals, Presidential Rank awards, and the Oliver Baker and William Webster awards. She is renowned for her commitment to mentorship and diversity, equity, and inclusion, serving as a champion for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Gordon frequently appears as a commentator on MSNBC, where she continues to share her sought-after expertise on the news of the day as it relates to national intelligence and security. In addition to serving as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Defense Innovation Board, Gordon is a fellow at Duke and Harvard Universities. She also sits on several boards, including as an independent director for Security Scoreboard, CACI International, BlackSky, and the Mitre Corporation; is a senior advisor for Pallas Advisors, the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and Gordon is an advisory board member for Infleqtion, is a strategic advisor for Girl Security, and consults for several companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology (biomechanics) from Duke University where she was a three-time captain of the Duke Women’s Basketball team.

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Speaker Video

Sue Gordon: Business Leaders are National Security Decision-Makers

The Future of National Security

Effective Leadership Under Threats and Crisis. Throughout her 30+ year service in the intelligence community, Sue Gordon led her teams through complex and constantly changing environments, managed rapidly evolving threats, and embraced innovation to adapt and thrive in challenging circumstances. In this talk, she shares her leadership lessons-learned, motivating audiences to put innovation into action and lead through change.

The Future of National Security. As the country’s former number two ranking intelligence official, Sue Gordon shares with audiences the opportunities and challenges that are facing the intelligence community and the need for innovation and technological advancement in order to keep up. She draws on her experience leading at every level of the Intelligence Community (IC) – including launching In-Q-Tel, a private, non-profit company that accelerates the development and delivery of cutting-edge technologies to national security agencies – to showcase the important role of business in national security and the growing need to bolster the relationship between the public and private sectors to implement faster and more innovative solutions. In a world of data abundance and novel 21st century challenges like cyber security and rapid technological advancements, Gordon explains to audiences that it is crucial to be transparent, agile, and integrated together, and shares her story on how she did just that for the IC.

The Geopolitics of Cybersecurity. Solving the challenges cyber threats pose to our organizations and society requires deep understanding of the physical and geopolitical environment in which the threat exists, the intention and tools of attackers, and executive leadership of organizational approach to security and risk management. A 30-year national security leader, Sue Gordon offers the unique perspective of an intelligence officer who has spent her life assessing and countering foreign threats, and has contributed to U.S. policy formulation around cybersecurity. In this compelling conversation, she illustrates the relationship between geopolitics — from China to Russia to Ukraine — and cybersecurity threats, using real-life examples of nation states attacking private companies, critical infrastructure, and even the food supply industry to demonstrate why every company in every industry should have a cybersecurity strategy in place to protect their systems. Gordon shares practical pro tips from inside the CIA to properly prepare organizations should they ever come face-to-face with a cyber foe. 

The Shifting Landscape of Cyber Security in a Hyper-Connected World. In a world where all actions (and threats) are to and through data, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Sue Gordon, explains the shift in cyber security that has come with global accessibility. Having served more than three decades in the Intelligence Community, she advises audiences that protection from historic advantage and physical distance has been eradicated and that the balance of power has changed. Gordon shares insights about our current cyber security challenges, how they will likely play out on the global stage, and what organizations need to know to protect themselves. She provides actionable strategies for businesses to adapt to these new challenges, all told through her straightforward yet warm speaking style.

The Craft of Leadership: How to Put Innovation into Action. According to one of the most accomplished leaders in the history of national security, Sue Gordon, leadership is not a born trait, but rather a craft that can be learned and refined. In this captivating presentation, she draws on her over 30-year experience leading teams at every level of the Intelligence Community to not only provide audiences with an actionable framework for becoming an effective leader, but also inspire them to lead accomplishment through change and innovation. Recognized for her creative executive leadership through many awards, Gordon shares key leadership principles such as courage, self-awareness, resilience, and most importantly decision-making, to take the leap into uncertainty, challenge the status quo, and maximize one’s success as a leader. Groups will walk away with a better understanding of the power of leadership, what innovative leadership will look like in the future, and inspired to optimize their own teams and businesses for success.

21st Century Disruption: Strategies to Navigate a New and Different World. With over 30 years of legendary national security service, Sue Gordon has learned to “see the world as it is, not as she prefers it to be.” In this talk, she reflects on the changed world in which we find ourselves today – one with ubiquitous technology, perfect connectivity, and unlimited data – and how this has disrupted the traditional ways we operate. In a new world of global accessibility, Gordon candidly challenges audiences to discover ways to do things new, using personal lessons-learned from her career in national security and practical real-world examples to provide strategies for adapting to disruption.


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