A Lifetime Career in Intelligence

The Honorable Sue Gordon Receives the 2020 Arthur C. Lundahl-Thomas C. Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award


Arthur C. Lundahl and Thomas C. Finney were GEOINT trailblazers and long-standing federal professionals whose decades of service helped build the foundation of geospatial intelligence. The Arthur C. Lundahl-Thomas C. Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates their accomplishments—in imagery analysis and mapping, respectively—and their legacies within the GEOINT Community. This distinguished award annually honors an influential member of the geospatial intelligence community who has dedicated much of their life’s work to the tradecraft. The recipient is nominated and voted upon annually by USGIF’s Board of Directors.

Previous recipients of this award are some larger-than-life geospatial intelligence leaders, including the Honorable Jeffrey K. Harris (2006), the Honorable James R. Clapper (2007), Roberta “Bobbi” Lenczowski (2013), and Dr. Annette J. Krygiel (2019). This year’s awardee is the Honorable Susan “Sue” M. Gordon.

“I’ve had the good fortune of having my career intersect with Sue’s over the years, and I could go on listing [all of her] accomplishments. But her greatest qualities are her humanity and genuine love of the workforce,” said Dr. L. Roger Mason Jr., USGIF interim chairman of the board, during the GEOConnect Series Virtual Main Stage where the award was announced. “Sue, [has] taught us how to be better intelligence officers, better colleagues, better leaders, and better followers.”

With nearly three decades of experience in the IC, Gordon served in a variety of leadership roles spanning numerous intelligence organizations and disciplines. She was sworn in as the fifth principal deputy director of National Intelligence (PDDNI) on August 7, 2017. As PDDNI, Gordon assisted the DNI in leading the Intelligence Community (IC) and managing the ODNI, particularly focused on advancing intelligence integration across the IC, expanding outreach and partnerships, and driving innovation across the IC.

She also served as the deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from 2015 to 2017. In this role, she helped the director lead the agency and manage the National System of Geospatial Intelligence. Gordon 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 of women and men of the IC.

Prior to her assignment at 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. Gordon 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 IC.

Gordon has been recognized for her creative executive leadership through numerous awards, including the Presidential Rank Award at the distinguished level.

“I am honored beyond measure and humbled beyond words, to receive the Lundahl-Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award. My thanks go to the board of USGIF [who] thought I might be worthy of the legacy of the visionary leaders who inspired the award, the icons with whom I get to share the recognition, and the women and men of geospatial intelligence whose craft, contribution, and commitment have kept America and her allies and interests safe for generations,” said Gordon. “I will treasure this award and moment forever. Thank you so much for the recognition today and for letting me call myself one of yours.”


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