President Obama is appointing veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency’s first female director.
Pierson will take over the helm from Mark Sullivan, whose leadership came under intense scrutiny after the agency became mired in a prostitution scandal last year.
During preparations for a presidential visit to Cartagena, Colombia, last April, more than a dozen agents and officers allegedly solicited prostitutes, raising serious questions about the agency’s male-dominated culture.
“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 written statement. “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.”
Pierson has held an array of positions during her 30 years at the agency, working in training, management, fraud investigations and protection of the president. She currently serves as chief of staff.
Sullivan announced his retirement last month.