President Barack Obama named veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency’s first female director on Tuesday, signaling his desire to change the culture at the male-dominated service, The Associated Press reports.
Pierson most recently served as the agency’s chief of staff, and she will take over from Mark Sullivan, who announced his retirement last month. The agency has faced intense criticism during Sullivan’s tenure for a prostitution scandal during preparations for Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia, last year, the article reports.
“Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day,” Obama said in a statement announcing Pierson’s appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, AP reports.
Pierson started her career as a police officer in Orlando, Fla., before joining the service as a special agent in 1983. At the Secret Service, she has served as deputy assistant director of the office of protective operations, assistant director of human resource and training and chief of staff.