Former CIA Officer Returns to Denison
Posted: October 16, 2006
A former CIA specialist on the Middle East and South Asia, alumna Martha Neff Kessler '67, returns to Denison to speak on "The Middle East and Dramatic Change" at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 26) in Slayter Auditorium. Her lecture is sponsored by the Denison Lecture Series, a student run group that brings speakers to campus.
Kessler was a CIA intelligence officer with focus on the Middle East and South Asia from 1970 to 2000. During her years with the agency Kessler earned the National Intelligence Community's Medal of Achievement and CIA's Medal of Career Achievement for her work. She served during the Lebanon Civil War (1975-1990), the rise of political Islam, the Iran-Iraq War (1980s), the Persian Gulf War (1991), and Middle East peace negotiations.
The citation for the National Intelligence award reads in part: "...she gave an extraordinarily outstanding performance as a senior-level staff officer. During this period of particular turbulence, Mrs. Kessler demonstrated an exemplary ability to track and manage multiple intelligence tasks and projects simultaneously and proved herself eminently capable in the important area of crisis management. Her uncommon professionalism, diligence, resourcefulness and determination won the respect and admiration of her colleagues both at the Agency and within the Intelligence Community..." She headed the Directorate's efforts on the Arab-Israeli area for six years and acted as liaison with U.S. peace negotiators throughout the Madrid peace conference process following the 1991 Gulf War. She has briefed many of our previous presidents including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush on gathered intelligence.
Kessler was appointed to the National War College in 1985, where she authored "Syria: Fragile Mosaic of Power" published in 1987. Kessler also served as a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution from 1996 to 1998, where she published articles on Syria in the Middle East Policy journal.
Born in Michigan, she moved toas an infant and then back to Michigan during her high school years. She returned to earn her bachelor of arts in political science at Denison University. After earning a master's degree in international studies at Western Michigan University, Kessler joined the CIA. She currently consults with several agencies.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- The Denison Lecture Series presents Martha Kessler, former CIA intelligence officer, to speak on the Middle East; 7.30 p.m., Thursday (Oct. 26), Slayter Auditorium. Free and open to the public. Call 740-587-6266 to confirm information.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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