CAPE MAY — Business executive and former leader of the U.S. intelligence community and adviser to two presidents — one Democrat, one Republican — Joan Avalyn Dempsey, of Alexandra, Virginia, and Cape May, has joined the Cape May MAC (Museums+Arts+Culture) Lessons of History Team. The Lessons of History Team organizes the annual Lessons of History Distinguished Lecture series and includes members of the community, along with Cape May MAC staff and board members. The lecture series began in 2012 and each year brings prominent national speakers to Cape May to speak on important topics of national history.
Dempsey was the speaker for the fifth annual Lessons of History Distinguished Lecture Series on Oct. 9, 2016, “Our Nation’s Security: How Intelligence History Affects the Future,” which drew an enthusiastic and engaged crowd to Cape May Convention Hall.
“Having had the opportunity to speak as part of the Lessons of History lecture series, I am thrilled to have been invited to join the Cape May MAC Lessons of History Team,” Dempsey said. “My husband, Jack, and I love Cape May and are so appreciative of the role Cape May MAC plays in promoting culture, history and the arts in Cape May and in enriching our community.”
Dempsey spent 25 years in the U.S. government as an active-duty U.S. Navy cryptologist, a U.S. Navy Reserve intelligence officer, a civilian employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Dempsey held political appointments twice: first, in President Bill Clinton’s administration, upon Senate confirmation, she served as the deputy director of central intelligence for community management; and, in President George W. Bush’s administration, as the executive director of the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. After retiring from the federal government in 2005, Dempsey went to Booz Allen Hamilton as a partner with P&L responsibility in the firm’s homeland security business. In the decade that followed, she grew businesses throughout Booz Allen’s defense and intelligence sectors and advanced to the rank of senior partner and executive vice president. Since 2017, Dempsey has focused on helping small and midsize companies achieve quality growth in the federal and commercial markets, particularly in the technology sector. She serves on five corporate boards, two proxy boards, and two commercial advisory boards. She also serves on two government senior advisory boards.
Dempsey was the 2004 recipient of the Security Affairs Support Association William O. Baker Award, an honor she shares with two former secretaries of defense, a U.S. senator, and two former directors of central intelligence. In addition to the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award, she is a recipient of the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, the Intelligence Community Seal Medallion, and The American University Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership.
She was granted an honorary doctorate in 2004 from the Joint Military Intelligence College.