Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines visited Florida International University in Miami, Florida on Sept. 26. The visit, her first to a college campus as DNI, focused on sharing the mission of the Intelligence Community and career opportunities in the IC with FIU students.
During the visit, DNI Haines toured the campus, spoke with students about their research, and participated in a fireside chat with FIU President Mark Rosenberg.
“I think that there is talent here, there is geographic diversity, and I am interested in bringing that into the IC,” said Haines.
Since beginning her tenure as DNI in January, Haines has prioritized efforts to increase diversity in the IC workforce.
Haines fielded questions from students on topics ranging from counterterrorism to the national security implications of climate change. She also emphasized that enhancing diversity in the IC workforce is critical to the success of the Intelligence Community’s mission.
“All of us (IC agency heads) agree (on the importance of) recruiting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce,” said Haines. “We are not going to be able to address the challenges of the future unless we’ve got a talented and diverse workforce.”
FIU is a Hispanic-Serving Institution with a student body comprised of over 60 percent Hispanic/Latinx students.
The IC and FIU already have a strong partnership and many FIU alumni currently work across the Intelligence Community. FIU also is an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence school, or IC-CAE school, making it a central location for highly talented and qualified potential IC officers.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, FIU IC-CAE students traveled to the Washington, D.C. area every year to tour agencies like the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Students would meet with the current IC workforce and have the opportunity to brief their research to analysts and subject matter experts.
The culture within the IC is focused on mission, which creates a strong bond and camaraderie where every officer is interested in making an impact, said Haines.
“One of the most important traits (within) the IC is intellectual curiosity,” said Haines. “It is among the most fun parts of the IC. You (may) find that today you’re learning about water, then tomorrow it’s about some other (issue) that you’ve never heard of before and now you’ve got to become an expert.”
Working in the IC allows for continuous learning, which is a required skillset when developing analysis for senior leaders and policy makers, said Haines.
“I hope to promote a culture that is inclusive, supportive, and ultimately drives answers and actions,” said Haines.
As the visit and fireside chat concluded, the DNI threw out this challenge to FIU students in attendance.
“Come in and change us,” she said. “Part of being a government institution is that we are serving the American people, and if we do not look like America, then we are not going to be (reflecting) the American people, so we really need you to come in.”