A Woman’s Life in the CIA, Unmasked with Jonna Mendez
Thursday, March 21, 2024
5:30pm – 6:30pm
John A. and Carole O. Moran Lecture Hall
The bestselling co-author of The Moscow Rules and Argo tells her riveting, courageous story of being a female spy at the CIA and battling against the prevailing culture of sexism at the time, all while undertaking dangerous missions for America’s safety during the height of the Cold War.
Jonna Hiestand Mendez began her CIA career as a “contract wife,” a second-class citizen who was hired as a convenience to her husband’s career, a young officer stationed in Europe. She needed his permission to open a bank account or shut off the gas to their apartment, and she performed secretarial duties for the CIA.
Mendez’s talent for espionage was clear, and she soon took on bigger and more significant roles at The Agency. She lived under cover and served tours of duty all over the globe, as well as at CIA Headquarters. She confronted dangerous situations that called on her spy training: coming face to face with a rogue Jihadi who had brought down an American plane, and helping steal a top-secret encryption machine from a Soviet embassy, among other high stakes situations. She became an international spy and ultimately Chief of Disguise at CIA’s Office of Technical Service–a kind of female American version of James Bond’s famous “Q.”
In this breakthrough memoir, Mendez recounts not only the drama of her international spy career but the grit and good fortune it took for her to navigate a misogynistic world. She was undermined, harassed, and intimidated, all while maintaining a patriotic mission and working to advance her own career. She was a firsthand witness to the cost of this gendered culture, both to the women who worked there, and to the interests of the agency and the nation it serves.
In True Face is both clear-eyed and dramatic: the story of an incredible spy career, and what it took to achieve it.
In partnership with Dent. Registration required to save a seat. A book signing will follow. This program will be livestreamed, but will not be available to view later.