LinkedIn tracking pixel

Audrey White (’17): Intelligence Analyst for Diplomatic Security

Audrey White joined the M.A. program in Strategic Intelligence Studies with the goal of breaking into the intelligence world. Today, she conducts intelligence analysis for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Her work has helped protect senior U.S. officials and embassy personnel around the world.

Audrey White at IWP
Audrey White at IWP

Working on Capitol Hill and pursuing intelligence studies

After earning her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies with a dual minor in Politics and Creative Writing at Principia College, Audrey moved from Colorado to Washington, D.C. and got her start working on Capitol Hill.

There, she provided support for lawyers working for the Ethics Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, she began to pursue her goal of working in intelligence, specifically in the counterterrorism field. She began thinking about graduate school, and IWP seemed like the natural fit. “I went to a small high school and a small college. I loved the idea of how small IWP was,” said Audrey. “I also like the fact that the professors are either retired from or are still practicing in the field. They really know their subjects.”

Luckily, Audrey’s position with the Ethics Committee allowed her to leave work at a consistent time every day to make it to evening classes. “I loved how the class schedule at IWP made it possible to work,” she said.

While at IWP, she made some great friends, many of whom she stays in contact with, and some of whom she sees regularly. And, she said, “The classes were fantastic.”

Audrey White speaking at an IWP event in 2016
Audrey speaking at an IWP event in 2016

An internship in counterterrorism

When Audrey came to IWP, she knew that she wanted to work in counterterrorism, but she wasn’t sure what all the options were in this field. “IWP helped me see what else was out there. I learned about more agencies that had intelligence programs.”

After working with Derrick Dortch in IWP Career Services, Audrey landed an internship with the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, an organization that houses a significant database of terrorists, terrorist groups, and related information.

“My internship with TRAC gave me some initial insight into what open-source analysis is, and I was able to get some actual counterterrorism-related experience. Before then, my experience was primarily academic,” said Audrey. “I was working there during the Pulse nightclub shooting, it was an intense day. This internship is definitely one of the reasons I have the job I have now.”

Audrey White mentoring students at IWP
Audrey mentoring students at IWP

Intelligence work for Diplomatic Security

After another stint with the House Committee on Ethics and some work with the FBI as a contractor, Audrey landed her current contracting role with IntelliBridge through an IWP connection.

She began by doing administrative work to get her foot in the door but has been promoted four times and now has a job where she can use her intelligence skills.

Specifically, Audrey supports the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s open-source intelligence office (OSN). “We look for threats in the public online space that could harm our VIPs, ambassadors, embassies, or embassy personnel,” said Audrey. “We also help with security support for major world events.”

For instance, Audrey’s office sends people to be on the ground at events like the G20 and the Olympics. “I was over in Sydney for a month last year for the Women’s World Cup,” said Audrey. There, she worked at a joint operations center with an interagency team, as well as with foreign law enforcement officers, to help keep U.S. personnel safe during the event.

USS Canberra in Sydney, Australia
Photo taken on board the USS Canberra in Sydney, Australia. This was the first-ever commissioning of a U.S. Navy ship outside the United States, and Audrey received an invitation to the ceremony because she was part of the joint operations center during the Women’s World Cup.

Protecting U.S. personnel abroad

Audrey is occasionally able to see the results of her work, and she finds it rewarding to know that she is helping keep Americans safe around the world.

“I was working during some of the major crises and global events that have happened during the last few years,” said Audrey. “I was at OSN during the assassination of the Haitian President, the drawdown in Afghanistan, the Ukraine war, and the current resurgence of the Israel and Hamas war. We sometimes do recurring reports to the embassy and Regional Security Officer in these places to make sure that our people on the ground stay safe.”

For instance, when the U.S. was pulling personnel out of Sudan last year, the embassy staff on the ground was not sure what routes out of the country were safe. Audrey and her team were able to help the embassy staff know which routes to avoid, and which routes were less likely to get attacked.

Audrey has been enjoying her work: “I like the variety. On any given day, I could be working on something totally different. Knowing that you can have an impact is really nice. I have even gotten personal thank you’s from people at the embassy in Kiev for the reporting we’ve done.”

She enjoys working at IntelliBridge – “An amazing company – they really care about everyone.” She appreciates working with two fellow alumni within her company, as well as several other alumni within Diplomatic Security and the State Department in general.

Audrey remembers: “We were asked to come to Tbilisi, Georgia to work with the foreign service national investigators (FSNIs). These are local Georgians who support the American embassy. We helped them to improve their open-source research capabilities and taught them how to write intelligence products in the U.S. government style.” She also got to catch up with another IWP alum, stationed at the Embassy as the Assistant Regional Security Officer.

A shot of Tbilisi from Audrey White
A shot of Tbilisi from Audrey. This is the Mother of Georgia statue looking over the city.

Reflecting on growth at IWP

Audrey found that several of the classes at IWP were very helpful to her in her current work, especially her course on Estimative Intelligence Analysis and Epistemology: “I refer to information I learned in that class pretty consistently.”

In addition, she says, “IWP made me feel more confident moving into the government world.”

She also learned some very practical lessons in a crisis simulation at IWP entitled Baltic Storm 2025: NATO and Russia on the Brink. She remembers, “We were on Team Russia in the simulation, and one of my teammates and I were so focused on one specific ship in the exercise, we spent the whole time trying to find where it was and when it was going to attack us. It turns out that, in the game, it was stalled off the coast of San Diego and was never even a problem for Team Russia. We were so certain it was sneaking around!

“I remind myself of this a lot in my job – don’t get so zeroed in on one part of the situation that you think is the most important that you lose sight of everything else.”

To IWP students who are just starting out at the school, Audrey advises, “Make friends. Keep hold of the contacts that you make in class. Rely on your professor’s knowledge.”

When asked for advice for others who are just beginning in the intelligence world, she said, “Be open-minded and be ready to take on different challenges. I wouldn’t have ended up where I am now if I was stuck in the mindset of only doing counterterrorism. Now I’m protecting our people overseas. I was willing to do administrative work for the first nine months on my contract, and it got me into a great position that I love.”

A photo of Audrey White at the Women’s World Cup in Sydney
A photo of Audrey at the Women’s World Cup in Sydney. She says: “I made friends with one of the producers for FOX Sports on my 15-hour flight over, so she brought me on set! This was a sign they had set up outside their pop-up studio space.”