President Obama appoints UCF alumna as Secret Service director
Updated On: Mar 26 2013 11:55:38 PM EDT
President Obama will appoint the first female director of the Secret Service, who is also an Orlando native and University of Central Florida alumna.
Julia Pierson, who graduated from UCF with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and Orlando Police Officer from 1980-1983, will be appointed as director of the United States Secret Service, leaving her current post as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Director of the United States Secret Service.
"I am pleased to announce that I will appoint Julia A. Pierson to be the next Director of the United States Secret Service," President Obama said in a prepared statement. "Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day."
Pierson is a veteran of the Miami and Orlando Secret Service field offices and previously served as as the Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Protective Operations and Assistant Director of 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," President Obama said. "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.”
According to a Smithsonian article, Pierson worked at Disney World in high school, starting off int he parking lot, advancing to watercraft and wore the character outfits while in Americans on Parade. In the article Pierson says she thinks dealing with large crowds at the park helped her ability to work with the Secret Service.
From her start as one of the first women officers patrolling the streets of Orlando and through the ranks of the Secret Service, an Orlando native is breaking molds again.
Pierson is a former OPD officer who patrolled areas like Lake Eola. St. Cloud Police Chief Pete Gauntlett said he remembers working alongside her in the beginning of their careers.
"I can tell you Julia is the consummate professional," said Gauntlett. "She started with good roots, right here in central Florida."
Gauntlett said her career is a tribute to the Orlando Police Department.
Altamonte Springs Police Chief Mike McCoy remembers when he met Pierson when she was a police explorer. Even then, her personality stood out.
"She was so well liked by everyone. She wasn't that big, but people did what she asked," said McCoy. "It comes as a great time for the Secret Service in terms in their credibility."
Her appointment comes at a critical time for the Secret Service. The agency has been marred in scandal after agents brought prostitutes to their hotel during a trip to Colombia.
Pierson's former coworkers say she'll change the culture and prevent that from happening again.
"Her talents and her leadership, it's not gonna happen under her watch," said Gauntlett.