Gina Haspel, CIA Director.
Gina Haspel, CIA Director.

CIA Director Gina Haspel will be at the University of Louisville Sept. 24 to take part in the McConnell Center’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Haspel, a UofL graduate, will deliver remarks and take questions about her career in the CIA and national security. The questions will be asked by Scott Jennings, a UofL graduate, longtime public affairs expert, political commentator and co-founder/partner of Louisville-based RunSwitch Public Relations.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, UofL President Neeli Bendapudi and McConnell Center Director Gary Gregg will join Haspel and Jennings on stage.

“What a day for the University of Louisville. To host the director of the CIA, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate and a regular CNN commentator –- all UofL alumni –- on the same stage is an amazing opportunity for our university,” Gregg said.

Born in Ashland, Haspel took the CIA helm in May. She is the first woman to hold that position and has more than 30 years of intelligence experience, including many years as an overseas operative. She is the second CIA director to appear as a McConnell Center guest. The first was David Petraeus, who spoke at the center in 2012.

Haspel will share how her years in Kentucky and at UofL prepared her to serve the CIA and how she is positioning the agency to confront today’s intelligence challenges.

“I was born in Kentucky and, while my family has deep roots there, I was an Air Force ‘brat’ and followed my father to postings all over the world. My childhood overseas instilled in me an appreciation for foreign languages and cultures, but also a deep understanding of the vital role of American leadership in confronting aggression abroad,” Haspel said in May at her confirmation hearing.

The free, public discussion begins at 9 a.m. in Bigelow Hall, Miller Information Technology Center. Tickets are no longer available. However, those interested in attending the event may enter their name on a wait list at McConnellCenter.org. Tickets are nontransferable and limited. Tickets are required for entry with photo IDs that match each name requested. The event will be streamed live at McConnellCenter.org.

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Cindy Hess
Communications Director Cindy Hess has oversight for day-to-day operations in media relations and covers prestigious scholars, the College of Education and Human Development and Brandeis School of Law. She reports to the Media Relations Director, has a heckuva good resume, and faithfully eats kale for lunch every day. Cindy has more than 25 years of experience in media relations, investor relations, marketing and corporate communications and is the unit’s only employee entrusted to buy tickets for lottery pools.