Susan Gordon

  • Susan Gordon

Susan Gordon

Former U.S. Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence

As a Rubenstein Fellow, Gordon taught courses in political science and public policy on issues related to national security and leadership in the public sphere. Gordon was hosted at Duke by the Program in American Grand Strategy and affiliated with the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Fuqua School of Business.

While a Fellow, Gordon also delivered guest lectures, participated in campus events, and mentored students. A three-time captain of the Duke women’s basketball team who graduated magna cum laude in 1980, Gordon also regularly engaged with the Duke Alumni Association and with Duke Athletics.


The Honorable Susan (Sue) M. Gordon served as the fifth Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence from August 2017 until August 2019. In this role, Gordon worked with the Director of National Intelligence to lead the Intelligence Community, focusing on advancing intelligence integration, expanding outreach and partnerships, and driving innovation across the Intelligence Community.

With nearly three decades of experience in the Intelligence Community, Gordon served in a variety of leadership roles spanning numerous intelligence organizations and disciplines. From 2015 to 2017, Gordon served as the Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). In this role, she helped the director lead the agency and manage the National System of Geospatial Intelligence. She drove NGA’s transformation to meet the challenges of a 21st century intelligence agency. She also championed agile governance, recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce, and expansion of geospatial intelligence services to the open marketplace. She is known for her commitment to diversity and inclusion and to the women and men of the Intelligence Community.

Prior to her assignment with NGA, Gordon served for 27 years at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), rising to senior executive positions in each of the Agency’s four directorates: operations, analysis, science and technology, and support. She joined the CIA in 1980 as an analyst in the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research, and went on to serve as the Director of the Office of Advanced Analytic Tools, Director of Special Activities in the Directorate of Science and Technology, Director for Support, and ultimately in concurrent roles as Director of the Information Operations Center and the CIA Director’s senior advisor on cyber. In 1998, she designed and drove the formation of In-Q-Tel, a private, non-profit company whose primary purpose is to deliver innovative technology solutions for the agency and the Intelligence Community. Gordon has been recognized for her creative executive leadership through numerous awards, including the Presidential Rank Award at the distinguished level.

Gordon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology (biomechanics) from Duke University where she was a three-time captain of the Duke Women’s Basketball team. She and her husband, Jim, live in Northern Virginia, and have two adult children who have also chosen to serve their country.

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Susan Gordon News & Events

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18Feb, 2020

Rebuilding National Security and Improving Civ-Mil Relations

Friday, February 26, 2021

Duke Office of Government Relations | February 26, 2021 A panel of national security experts discussed the policy landscape in the Biden administration and new Congress on February 19th. This conversation, part of Duke in DC’s Beyond Talking Points series, covered issues related to cybersecurity, international and private partnerships, and how our nation can rebuild and strengthen many…

18Feb, 2020

Rebuilding National Security Infrastructure & Improving Civ-Mil Relations

online - Friday, February 19, 2021

With the 2020 election now behind us, what can we expect next in Washington, D.C.? As our new and returning elected officials get to work, experts are outlining their top considerations for Congress and the new administration on the chief policy issues facing the United States. In this series of events, Duke in DC will…

18Feb, 2020

Cybersecurity is Not a Tech Problem, it’s a Matter of National Survival

online - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Roll Call | February 16, 2021By Patrick Pexton Last week was a sobering one for Congress. The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump served as the backdrop, the vivid videos of the angry mob of Jan. 6 underscoring all that could have been lost that day, and all that divides Americans.  In the House committee rooms,…

18Feb, 2020

Sue Gordon: What is Happening in the U.S. Intelligence Community? Making Sense of the Behind-the-Scenes Upheaval - Thursday, April 2, 2020

Professor Peter Feaver and Sue Gordon, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, will discuss the current state of the U.S. intelligence community. This discussion will take place via Zoom and is open to the Duke community. Please enter a few minutes early so that the event can begin at 5:00 pm. Join the event…

"The chance to be a part of the Duke community this year was remarkable. In a time of great difficulty, massive uncertainty, and constant change, I got to experience university leadership who demonstrated great humanity, educators who taught creatively, and students who were both resilient and relentlessly hungry to learn. The Rubenstein Fellowship allowed me to share my experience and passion with those who inspired me with theirs!”
- Susan Gordon, 2020-2021 Rubenstein Fellow

"It has been the experience of a lifetime to have Sue as a teacher, mentor, and friend – by far one of the most distinct privileges of my Duke career. Learning about intelligence and national security from 'one of the most respected intelligence officers of her generation' (NYT) has been incredible. I wish others could witness the spark in students—myself very much included—when Sue draws apt parallels from core class concepts to times she was in the Situation Room or intimately involved in shaping events that we grew up hearing about on national television. Needless to say, there has never been a dry lecture in Sue's class.”

Shrey Majmudar

Public Policy and Computer Science, Class of 2022

“Learning from Sue Gordon is one of the most memorable, impactful experiences of my life to date. Sue’s vulnerability, honesty, and thoughtfulness on issues ranging from cyber security and AI to leadership and civility have reshaped the way I think about the role of business in the world. What I also appreciated about Sue was her effort to immerse herself in the Fuqua community while here. She took her personal time to give talks to student organizations, mentored students one-on-one, and volunteered to speak at prospective student events. Myself and countless others are grateful for the term we got to spend learning from Sue, and in her words, she’s now “family for life.”

Sarah Izzo

Master of Business Administration, Class of 2021