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Sue Gordon

Transformative leader of the Intelligence Community

Ms. Gordon is the former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, serving from 2017-2019, where she advised the President on intelligence matters and provided operational leadership of the 17 agencies and organizations of the Intelligence Community (IC). She is a widely respected authority on risk management, technical innovation, and cyber and space issues. Today, she is an active board member, university fellow, and advises private companies in the areas of technology, strategy, and leadership.


Throughout Ms. Gordon’s more than three decades in the IC, she led large-scale organizational change and delivered revolutionary outcomes. Ms. Gordon worked to adapt the IC to emerging economic, military, and political trends impacting the current operating environment. Ms. Gordon led the establishment of In-Q-Tel, the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture arm, in the 1990s. In the last several years, she focused on advancing intelligence integration across the IC, expanding outreach and partnerships to the private sector and international allies, and driving innovation across the Community.


While serving as Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from 2015 to 2017, Ms. Gordon helped lead NGA through a transformation to adapt to emergent challenges. In this role, she spearheaded agile decision-making, modernization of the information environment, and the expansion of geospatial intelligence services to the open marketplace.


Ms. Gordon joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1980 and served for 29 years, rising to senior executive positions in each of the Agency’s four directorates: operations, analysis, science and technology, and support. She is renowned for her commitment to mentorship and diversity and inclusion, serving as a champion for the LGBTQ community. Ms. Gordon is recognized for her creative executive leadership, receiving numerous awards, including the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and Presidential Rank Award at the distinguished level.


Ms. Gordon is a Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University; serves on several boards, including as an independent director for CACI International and Avantus Federal, and as a senior advisor for Pallas Advisors, the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Primer.ai, and ColdQuanta; and consults for several companies, including Microsoft Corporation.


Gordon holds a Bachelor of Science from Duke University, wPhere she was three-time captain of the Duke Women’s Basketball team. She is married to fellow Duke graduate Jim Gordon, with whom she has two grown children, two grandchildren, and two Greater Swiss Mountain dogs, Astro and Elroy.

Thoughtful Leaders. Decision Makers. Activists and Experts.

The Sedona Forum is the McCain Institute’s annual, high-level gathering of national and international leaders held each spring at the Enchantment Resort in the red rock country of Sedona, Arizona. Starting from the assumption of character-driven leadership and core democratic values, The Sedona Forum convenes thought-leaders, decision makers, activists and diverse experts to discuss approaches and solutions to real-world problems.