Editor’s note: In the Security Clearance “Case File” series, CNN national security producers profile key members of the intelligence community. As part of the series, Security Clearance is focusing on the roles women play in the U.S. intelligence community.
By Pam Benson, CNN
(CNN) – You don’t really expect to simply fall into the spy business, but for Jeanne Tisinger, that’s pretty much how it happened.
She was a business major at George Mason University, looking for some experience in her field while continuing her studies. She joined the college’s work-study program and, much to her amazement, her first interview was with the Central Intelligence Agency.
“I was surprised they were even hiring co-op students,” she says. “Why would they want a college kid to come into their version of campus? I wasn’t sure what they were going to do with me. Then there was, of course, a part of me that was. wow, the mystique of the CIA - what better place to start. It was just kind of a bit of a wide-eyed wonder.”
That was nearly three decades ago.
“I’m the classic story of sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” Tisinger says.
She’s still with the agency, rising through the ranks to become the CIA’s first female chief information officer nearly two years ago. Her job is to oversee the CIA’s vital information technology systems and coordinate information-sharing.