Denise Biehn
Supervisory Special Agent
Portland Field Office

I joined the FBI in June 2003—on a Friday, I was a prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the following Monday, I was in new agent class. Since then, I have not looked back. I have served in Boston; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Iraq; Africa; and Portland and on shorter overseas tours in-between. My focus has generally been violent crime, crimes against children, and international corruption.

What drew you to the FBI?

I was not someone who always dreamt of becoming an FBI agent. When I was in high school, I wanted to be an Army nurse, which I did become. After serving in the Army, I thought becoming a lawyer made sense, so I went to law school. That is when I had my first interaction with a federal prosecutor and an FBI agent. I had planned on becoming a health care attorney, but my internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office changed that plan. I received a Federal District Court clerkship and then was accepted in the Justice Department’s Honors’ Attorney Program.

Celebration of 50 years of female special agents in the FBI. Denise Biehn from the Portland Field Office

I was a D.C.-based Department of Justice attorney at the time of 9/11. I volunteered to work at FBI Headquarters to assist with the response to the attack. It ignited a desire in me to get out of the courtroom and onto the front lines of law enforcement.

Describe your most memorable case or investigative success.

There are so many investigations that have impacted me over the years. I think, instead, what is memorable is the FBI’s mission. 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.

Ultimately, it is the day-to-day work we do at the FBI, often unseen and unheralded, that means the most to me. The opportunity to serve: victims, their families, the community, my agency, this country. That is what is, and will always be, memorable to me.

What is the best career or life advice you’ve been given?

Two things: Your reputation and integrity are everything, and don’t do anything that would embarrass your mom if it made the news.