50th Anniversary of Female Special Agents, 1972-2022

Celebrating Today’s Female Special Agents

Fifty years after the first women entered the Training Academy, female agents are leading and shaping the FBI.

Just ten days after J. Edgar Hoover died in May 1972, the acting director changed a long-standing policy and announced the FBI would accept applications from women to be special agents. 

On July 17, 1972, Joanne Pierce (Misko) and Susan Roley (Malone) began their training at the FBI Academy in Quantico. By the end of that year, 11 women would be sworn in as special agents. 

Those first female agents forged a path that allowed thousands to follow behind them. Today, women are still underrepresented as special agents, but they are a growing and essential part of the FBI. Women serve in every one of the FBI’s 56 field offices (and are leading many of them). They have climbed into the leadership ranks and are making an undeniable impact on cases and investigations every single day. Learn more about some of them here.

Tracey Branch
Supervisory Special Agent
Memphis Field Office

My most memorable case was an international human trafficking investigation involving a 12-year-old girl from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Kimberly Kidd
Special Agent
Louisville Field Office

Having the honor and privilege of meeting victims face to face, hearing their stories, holding their hands, crying with them as they must relive their abuse, and sitting with them as their abuser is sentenced is incredibly powerful.

Laura M. Harper
Supervisory Special Agent
Norfolk Field Office

The most interesting case I’ve worked to date was a joint counterintelligence investigation with the U.S. Navy. Not only was it a rewarding and, at times, challenging investigation, it offered me the opportunity to fly onto a sea aircraft carrier and took me to Hawaii.

Melissa A. Vanek
Supervisory Special Agent
Anchorage Field Office

This letter awakened in me the realization that the professional opportunities I had been afforded were only possible because of those who refused to accept that women were incapable of performing the duties of an FBI special agent.

Amy Kaskel
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
Albuquerque Field Office

I was drawn to the FBI because of the many opportunities, unique travel, interesting training, fascinating overseas assignments, challenging collateral duties, the chance to protect the United States, and no more polyester uniform!

Jean Wyant
Special Agent
Richmond Field Office

Although I spent the majority of my time working a wide array of white-collar crimes, I have had the opportunity to experience so much more—from being a member of the Richmond Evidence Response Team to interviewing potential FBI applicants.

Rebecca Spears
Special Agent
Tampa Field Office

I loved working complex crimes and solving cases that required me to think broader and outside of the box. I knew that I would have the opportunity to continue the investigative lifestyle with the FBI. 

Vanessa K. Stelly
Special Agent
Jacksonville Field Office

Late one night I was sitting at my desk, pouring through documents, and I discovered a pattern of ATM withdrawals and cash deposits that revealed a long-term member of Congress had been stealing from a charity she publicly endorsed.

Special Agent
Omaha Field Office

I currently work on the Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force, where I coordinate with state and local partners to protect our most vulnerable victims.  

Theresa Lloyd
Special Agent
Buffalo Field Office

Trust your gut and go for it! It may take a lot of courage and perseverance, but you will be the better for it. If I heeded the so-called sage advice of others, I would not be an FBI agent.

Dianne Shaffer
Special Agent
Pittsburgh Field Office

My most memorable case was a health care case for which we recovered more than $60 million in assets for victims and secured significant prison sentences for the primary defendants. 

Rebecca Day
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
Oklahoma City Field Office

During the past two years, I witnessed firsthand the resilience of Oklahoma City’s agents, analysts, and professional staff, who, in spite of new challenges, remained unwavering in their dedication to serving the American people. 

Tina Crays Freivald
Supervisory Special Agent
Salt Lake City Field Office

The most memorable case of my career was as a member of the FBI Los Angeles Evidence Response Team responding to the San Bernardino terrorist attack in December 2015. At the time, it was the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11.

Michelle Hart
Special Agent
San Diego Field Office

Serving as a member of the FBI San Diego SWAT team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my FBI career so far. I'm proud to work with such a strong and dedicated team. 

Tricia Maier 
Chief Division Counsel
Chicago Field Office

Although I enjoyed every squad, position, and opportunity, I am most proud of my work as associate division counsel and now chief division counsel and being a part of the FBI legal community. I have the privilege of participating and weighing in on all important cases.

Denise Biehn
Supervisory Special Agent
Portland Field Office

As an agent, I have been in a position to impact threats to civil society and individuals, whether that be corrupt heads of state, child predators, violent actors, or terrorists. I’ve been given the opportunity to hold those individuals responsible and to cast light on their often very dark and selfish acts.

Special Agent
Indianapolis Field Office

In 2014, I entered the FBI Academy for new agent training and was assigned to investigate violent gangs and criminal enterprises with the FBI Indianapolis Safe Streets Task Force. 

Carolyn Middleton
Special Agent
Mobile Field Office

I think the Gabrielle Giffords mass shooting scene in Tucson in 2011 was probably the most memorable. It happened at a grocery store close to our home, where we would occasionally shop. It made it really personal.

T. White
Special Agent
Dallas Field Office

I was the first African-American woman to become a special agent bomb technician for the FBI. While I am honored to have achieved this milestone, I am mindful of my responsibilities to pay it forward.

DeAnn Castillo
Supervisory Special Agent
San Antonio Field Office

I joined the FBI because of September 11. After joining, I wanted to deploy to Iraq with the FBI, but to be honest, I was afraid, as I had never done anything like that before. I finally made the jump, deployed to Iraq for four months, and it was the highlight of my career.

A. Davis
Special Agent
Kansas City Field Office

The best career advice I received was simply to do what you find meaningful. The time you spend working is a large portion of your adult life. Choose a career that is worthwhile and feeds your soul.

A. Cynthia Santana
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
Las Vegas Field Office

My most memorable case was my first health care fraud investigation. It involved a group of individuals involved in a prescription drug ring where they used stolen prescription pads to forge approximately 175 prescriptions. 

Special Agent
Milwaukee Field Office

I worked human trafficking and crimes against children investigations before moving to the counterterrorism squad. I have served with our SWAT team’s Tactical Operations Center since 2016 and have been its coordinator since 2017.

Kimberly Vagos Blackwood
Special Agent
Boston Field Office

I would advise all new agents to leave their desks and get out of the office. Work with other federal, state, and local partners on all cases. One of the best parts of being an agent is the relationships we make with our law enforcement partners.

Kelly Choi
Supervisory Special Agent
Houston Field Office

Currently, I serve in the Houston Division as a supervisory special agent. In every area of my career, it has been a humbling experience working alongside talented analysts and agents who are committed to fulfilling the FBI’s mission. 

Amy L.
Special Agent
Washington Field Office

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work alongside one of the first female special agents in the FBI. She was a fantastic role model who demonstrated logic, dedication, open mindedness, and respect for the Bureau, the position, and her colleagues.

Elizabeth Alexander
Special Agent
Little Rock Field Office

I do believe my favorite investigations are working cold murder cases. The ability to add pieces to the puzzle, bring justice to victims and their families, and support state and local agencies is extremely rewarding for me.

Laura S.
Special Agent
Honolulu Field Office

I was only 19 at the time and decided to put in my application. I often joke that I grew up in the FBI, raised by FBI agents.

Tanya Evanina
Special Agent
Columbia Field Office

On January 30, 2018, a father and his 14-year-old daughter were injured by a bomb hidden inside of a wicker basket placed in the middle of a rural road. The FBI led the intense manhunt for the bomber. 

Lauren Carter
Special Agent
Philadelphia Field Office

When I was four years old, my mom and I were victims in an armed bank robbery. As a result of that experience, I always wanted to work in law enforcement, and being an FBI agent was my dream job.

Nichole Adams
Special Agent
El Paso Field Office

Never get discouraged by the word NO. Reconsider the word NO to mean the Next Opportunity.

Supervisory Special Agent
San Juan Field Office

My analyst work sparked my desire to become an agent and prepared me for some of the toughest but most rewarding investigations into MS-13 gang members. Now being back in Puerto Rico, I get to share my knowledge and experience and hopefully inspire others.

Tracie L. Keegan
Supervisory Special Agent
New Haven Field Office

In 2012, I investigated the murder of a 2-year-old Native American girl, along with the aggravated assault of two of her siblings on the Fort Mojave Indian reservation.

Special Agent
Minneapolis Field Office

During the past three years, I have worked on several large-scale financial disruptions. Together with our international and domestic law enforcement partners, our team has seized more than $250 million from foreign terrorist organizations.

Thuy Zoback
Special Agent
San Francisco Field Office

After working three consecutive cases with Kenny as my partner, we ended up with the seizure of more than 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine, countless arrests and indictments, and almost $2 million in cash.

Suzanna Warren
Special Agent
Sacramento Field Office

Hard to pick one thing but probably becoming certified as an undercover employee has been one of the top three achievements. The certification is tough and not many people make it, so successfully completing that class was very rewarding.

Regina Burris
Supervisory Special Agent
Springfield Field Office

My most memorable case was the opportunity to work on the Robert Hanssen investigation. I was in charge of reviewing all of the electronic evidence in the case and was the first to see notable information about his dead drops and letters to the Russians.

Stefanie Roddy
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
New York Field Office

Early in my career, I was investigating a case where we identified people who were plotting to attack U.S. soldiers abroad. These suspects were ultimately arrested, tried, and convicted in U.S. federal court on terrorism charges.

Lisa Horner
Special Agent
New Orleans Field Office

I’ve worked memorable public corruption cases and met unique and colorful characters during my career, but the child abduction and murder of 11-year-old Lorin Easterling was the case I am most proud of.

Shawnda Drummond
Special Agent
Charlotte Field Office

Along the way, I have had many auxiliary duties, including digital extraction trained agent, crimes against children coordinator, crisis negotiation coordinator, child forensic interviewer, online covert employee, and airport/seaport liaison agent coordinator.

Amber Cronan
Special Agent
Denver Field Office

The case I consider my biggest success was a particularly heinous domestic violence incident. One of the reasons I am proud of this case is because I truly believe we saved three lives through this investigation: the life of the wife, their 1-year-old daughter, and their unborn child.

Christine Ann Taylor
Supervisory Special Agent
Detroit Field Office

The FBI is only as strong and as good as its people. My hope is that when my generation leaves the FBI, it will be a better place in part because of our contributions but also because of how we prepared the next generation to carry the baton.

Candace Corte
Special Agent
Los Angeles Field Office

Currently, I’m the only female in the Los Angeles Division to hold these positions. Here’s hoping that changes! 

Crystal Bender Sims
Supervisory Special Agent
Jackson Field Office

I’m most proud of the people I’ve worked with and the opportunities I’ve been given. The FBI is like no other career, and I’m honored to say I’m a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Maria Llompart
Supervisory Special Agent
Miami Field Office

In 27 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of fronts, but none compares to my work as a case agent in the Violent Crimes Against Children program.

Joelle Vehec
Special Agent
Knoxville Field Office

It is sometimes hard for agents to separate work and life. It is easy to get pulled into an investigation and want to spend all your time working that investigation. Finding balance is key.

Stephanie Shark
Field Supervisor
Seattle Field Office

An FBI recruiter sought me out at a career fair where I was representing the district attorney’s office. He challenged my perception of what an FBI agent looked like and changed the course of my life.

Supervisory Special Agent
Albany Field Office

Our modern devices create tons of data that can link a person to a crime. Sooner or later everyone makes a mistake—even those who are incredibly savvy.

Autumn Brown: Baltimore Field Office
Autumn Brown
Supervisory Special Agent
Baltimore Field Office

I turn 50 this year, and the fact I get to share that milestone with the 50th Anniversary of female special agents is truly meaningful.

Supervisory Special Agent
Birmingham Field Office

No matter the amount of time or the resources agents expend, if we prevent one adult or child from being victimized, it’s worth it.

Samone Brown
Special Agent
Atlanta Field Office

I’m currently assigned to serve as the Civil Rights coordinator in Atlanta. This role is one of the most important and gratifying positions that I have ever held.

E. Santos
Special Agent
Newark Field Office

My mother was an inspiration to me. I worked diligently throughout my career so she knew that all of the efforts she made in immigrating to the United States were appreciated.

Special Agent
Cleveland Field Office

I was in middle school when I first heard about the FBI, and I was instantly intrigued. My upbringing, however, encouraged girls and women to be more timid and submissive. Telling my parents about my career choice was difficult.

Suzanne Allen
Special Agent
Phoenix Field Office

I have learned to advocate for the things I believe in, without worrying about ruffling feathers, and believe me, I’ve ruffled feathers! 

Special Agent
Cincinnati Field Office

For women who are interested in becoming a special agent, I want you to know it is the best job in the world. You are strong enough to handle having a family and a successful work life.

Lesley Edge
Field Supervisor
St. Louis Field Office

Even after 50 years, the FBI still doesn’t get enough female applicants. I think a lot of women think they aren’t a natural a fit; they have never shot a gun or learned how to fight. What I want people to know is those are the things you can learn.