On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, staff at the Key Executive Leadership Programs exchanged the leafy setting of their Tenleytown office for the concrete jungle of downtown D.C. The exchange marked one of the best—of many—benefits to working in the Key program: when treasured students return the favor by inviting Key staff to tour their workplaces. This time, Michael Breslin (USSS1 certificate alumnus), invited Key to participate in a highly coveted tour of the United States Secret Service Headquarters.
Upon arrival, staff were greeted by Mr. Breslin who was delighted to catch up with Key Director, Patrick Malone, and Key Assistant Director, Sophie Idilbi. After passing through very tight security measures, staff were escorted to a meeting room, where Michael Breslin and Jason Kane, ATSAIC, gave an overview of the Secret Service, while also including anecdotes about how their leadership within the agency had improved due to their experience at Key. After offering staff the opportunity to ask very candid questions about the work of the agency, the tour embarked.
“Talking to members of the intelligence division, while surrounded by a photo timeline of failed attempted presidential attackers was pretty intense, yet remarkable,” said Key Program Coordinator Jeff Delaitsch. His favorite part of the tour included a lesson on the printmaking process for creating U.S. dollars and on the process of identifying counterfeit money. He will also never forget visiting the U.S.S.S museum, where he had the opportunity to hold the 2002 Olympic torch from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Destani Jameson, Key Program Coordinator, was astounded to run into a Secret Service staff member who was on detail for a current 2016 presidential candidate. Sheree Brand, Key Graduate Program Coordinator, loved learning about the complex operations required to maintain cyber security. Ana Sobalvarro, Key Coaching Program Coordinator, particularly enjoyed meeting a Secret Service agent who had been on security detail for both President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
By the end of the tour, Key staff lamented the fact that they couldn’t spend the entire day with the Secret Service, but understood that the gracious agents had to get back to protecting the country. Before saying goodbye, they gifted each staff member with Secret Service challenge coins. It was a small token of appreciation, not only to complement the existing collection of coins that Key staff have gathered from various federal agencies, but also to celebrate the generous, longstanding relationship shared between Key staff and students from the United States Secret Service.