Laura M. Harper
Supervisory Special Agent
Norfolk Field Office
My FBI career began in early January 2005 when I became an intelligence analyst in the Counterintelligence Division at FBI Headquarters. In 2007, I entered new agent training, and, upon graduating, was assigned to the Norfolk Field Office, Counterintelligence Squad.
I transferred to the Washington Field Office in late 2010, then FBI Headquarters in 2017, both with a focus on Russian counterintelligence.
I returned to the Norfolk family in 2018, where I currently supervise the Cross Programs Squad, which includes confidential human sources, aviation, surveillance, foreign language, and private sector programs.
Describe your most memorable case or investigative success.
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 land on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean and took me to Hawaii.
What is the best career or life advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I’ve received was from my dad (Captain Robert L. Harper, U.S. Navy, Ret.) who, before I went to college, told me to “always take an hour for yourself each day.” Assured I was fulfilling my job as a student, he would ask me if I was following his guidance when we chatted. He knew I had caught on when I progressed from “mostly” taking an hour everyday freshman year to “almost always” sophomore year to “at least an hour a day” by my junior/senior years. He still asks me if I’m following this advice to this day.
He also always said; “Experience is the name we give our mistakes.” I carry this advice with me as well, as a reminder to motivate and inspire calculated and informed action and not to be afraid to fail or learn as I go. Even if it does mean I have to get back up and dust myself—or my pride—off from time to time.
Who made a difference in your career? How?
Very few people achieve success without the assistance of others. Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to have the guidance and counsel of others, many of whom are female mentors. Too numerous to name here, my village of intelligence analysts, professional support staff, and special agents know who they are.
Whether it was providing an inspiring reminder that we’re all charged with doing our work on behalf of the United States of America, demonstrating how to do a protocol pushup, showing me how to navigate an investigation and/or the ensuing paperwork, or offering support and encouragement—be it during a tough case, a personal challenge, or just grabbing a cup of coffee—I have always had the sense that the FBI family is more than a nice concept…it’s real.
That spirit of camaraderie and unity of mission is something I hope other people have in their careers. Because of the support I’ve received, I’m proud to pay it forward and look out for and encourage future talent for the organization. The FBI is a team sport made up of superstars!