NEW SERIES: Interview with INSA Achievement Awards Winner Jessica McKeon, Richard J. Kerr Government Award

Jessica McKeon

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) will hold its 3rd annual Achievement Awards Ceremony Thursday, December 6th, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The ceremony will honor six young professionals in the intelligence and national security sectors for their professional contribution to the community.

The ceremony’s keynote speaker will be Letitia A. Long, Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the event will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with registration closing November 29th.

WashingtonExec got a chance to chat with the award recipients as they told us about their nomination, what it means to them, their mission and more.

Today’s participant is Jessica McKeon, Department of the Treasury, recipient of the Richard J. Kerr Government Award.

WashingtonExec: Did you know you were nominated for the award, or was it a surprise?

Jessica McKeon: My office director told me about the nomination just prior to submitting it to INSA, which was a surprise in itself. When he told me about the award just a few weeks later, I was honored and taken aback. I know so many people in the community who are deserving of such an honor, including my co-workers at Treasury, who are extremely diligent and driven and have such a command of their target areas. I’m constantly learning from them and seeking their insight.

WashingtonExec: How would you describe your mission?

Jessica McKeon: Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) has a unique mission – one that I’m proud to be a part of. OIA advances our national security by informing Treasury decisions with timely, relevant, and accurate intelligence and analysis. In this way, OIA supports Treasury efforts to stem the flow of funds to terrorist groups and disrupt weapons proliferation and other illicit networks globally.

WashingtonExec: Finish the sentence: The best part of about my job is…

Jessica McKeon: The variety of opportunities it presents! From engaging foreign partners abroad to briefing senior policymakers to producing analytical pieces on a number of topics, I am constantly challenged by new and exciting assignments. One day I’m working on a finished product and the next day I’m gearing up to travel abroad with an Assistant Secretary.
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Treasury management is very encouraging and supportive of its analysts taking advantage of new opportunities to round out our professional experiences and further develop our tradecraft.The experience I gained working abroad with both interagency and foreign partners was invaluable and has made me a better analyst.”

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WashingtonExec: Could you name an aspect of your job that you did not expect when you were first brought on?

Jessica McKeon: The emphasis on work/life balance. Working to inform the decisions of senior policymakers is both challenging and demanding and you always have to be prepared for the unexpected. Through all this, Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Leslie Ireland has been an enthusiastic advocate for OIA employees to strike a balance between our professional and personal responsibilities. The opportunity to adopt an alternative work schedule (AWS) has enabled me to visit my family in Massachusetts more often, easing the difficulty of being away from them. As a new aunt, it’s fantastic for me to be able to spend more time with my growing (and adorable!) niece.

WashingtonExec: Who is someone you admire? or Who has been a mentor to you throughout your career?

Jessica McKeon: I endlessly admire my mother, who has always put the needs of others before her own. I would not be where I am today without her never-ending support and selflessness. She supported and fought for my educational opportunities and has always stood by my choices, even when that meant studying in Israel during the second Intifada. She still blames her first grey hair on my studying abroad there, but also attributes my professional success largely in part to that experience, which instilled in me a drive to work toward the prevention of terrorism wherever it may occur.

WashingtonExec: What is something you are most proud of, personally?

Jessica McKeon: I am proud of the professional place that I am in today. In school, I always hoped to have a career focused on national security issues. After graduating and struggling to find a job, it sometimes felt like I’d never have an opportunity to realize that goal. But in the seven years that I’ve been in Washington I’ve been fortunate to work for employers that have challenged me and given me incredible responsibilities beyond my rank in the workplace. It often occurs to me, in the middle of authoring a piece intended for senior policymakers or while briefing a Treasury official, that I have the job I always aspired to while I was in school. I consider myself to be very lucky.

WashingtonExec: What is your favorite intelligence movie or book?

Jessica McKeon: Silence of the Lambs. Young woman connects the dots to track down a serial killer, with a major creepiness factor.

 

 

 

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