Vanessa K. Stelly
Special Agent
Jacksonville Field Office

I had been working as an environmental engineer for several years when my husband, who was already a special agent with the FBI, encouraged me to take the leap and apply. Eighteen years later, I’m thankful for the opportunities this career has afforded me in places like San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Jacksonville, Florida. Throughout most of my tenure, I have focused on public corruption investigations. I now also serve as the private sector coordinator, the crisis negotiation coordinator, and an assessor during the special agent application process.

Describe your most memorable case or investigative success.

Often when the public thinks about the work of the FBI they think of violent crime or terrorism, but my most memorable and fulfilling work has been investigating acts of public corruption by elected officials.

Celebration of 50 years of female special agents in the FBI. Vanessa Stelly from the Jacksonville Field Office

Whether it be an email, financial transaction, or key witness, when you finally find that key piece of evidence, it is truly an “a-ha” moment. 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. She was later convicted, and the success of this investigation is one of my proudest career moments.

Share the thing you’re most proud of from your FBI career.

I am thrilled that my career has now sparked desire in my two daughters to become FBI special agents, a path that never crossed my mind when I was their age. They have witnessed my hard work and dedication and have seen my love for the job. They have even come to watch me at trial.

My mom jokes that I use my “FBI voice” from time-to-time—confident and inquisitive, but courteous. As young women, I also want my girls to have an “FBI voice” and be strong and speak with purpose.