My Secret Life in the CIA


The CIA is looking for walking contradictions.

You must keep secrets but skillfully persuade others to tell you theirs. You have to love your country but willingly leave it behind for dangerous operations around the world. You need to live a double life but be trustworthy enough to carry out the nation’s most sensitive tasks.

Michele Rigby Assad was one of those people. Working undercover for the CIA, she served in treacherous areas throughout the Middle East—a woman leading some of the most highly skilled operatives on the planet.

The threats were real.

The missions were perilous.

And deep inside, Michele wondered: Could she really do this job or had she misunderstood her life’s calling?

In Breaking Cover, Michele has at been cleared to drop cover and tell her story of incredible struggle, of unexpected challenges and thwarted missions, and most significantly, of powerfully realizing what really matters in the face of her greatest fears.

Available Now.

About Michele

Growing up in a small town in Central Florida, Michele didn’t know much about the world. But her parents taught her the power of positive thinking which she embraced at a young age–being willing to do the hard things, never giving up, and working hard until you succeed. This propelled her down a long road, taking her to destinations she could have never imagined: serving undercover for ten years as a counterterrorism officer in the CIA; solving difficult problems as an international security consultant; supporting the fight for global human rights; and helping refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) persecuted by al-Qa’ida and ISIS.

Upon retirement from active service, Michele and her husband Joseph (also a former intelligence officer) joined a group of Americans who wished to aid persecuted Iraqi Christians. Their efforts resulted in the evacuation of a group from northern Iraq that was featured on ABC’s 20/20 in December 2015.

Today, Michele is a corporate consultant, trainer, and keynote speaker, sharing a variety of lessons from her unconventional life. Michele holds a master’s degree in Contemporary Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a political science degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Photograph by Axel Muench

Michele on Megyn Kelly Today
“A Southern Belle To CIA Spy”

Michele on ABC’s 20/20 special
“Escaping ISIS”

Turning Liabilities into Advantages

Intuition is Marketable — Lessons From the CIA TEDx BinghamtonUniversity


Michele Rigby Assad

Michele is a global thought leader whose extensive knowledge and unique stories translate into every industry. Michele’s presentations are customized for conference objectives, event themes, and audience composition:

  • Keynotes and Inspirational Presentations–Corporate events for companies working in the following sectors: technology, social media, finance, banking, insurance, sales and marketing. Other specializations include women’s leadership, human resources, civic organizations, national nonprofits, and faith-based groups.
  • Television Interviews–Michele is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the following areas: intelligence operations, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, national security, foreign affairs with a focus on the Middle East, behavioral interviewing techniques, and vetting people/interrogating information.
  • Podcasts and YouTube Videos
  • Customized Training–Law enforcement, corporate security and counterintelligence divisions, national athletes and sports management teams (players, recruiters, management).

What Dealing With Terrorists Taught Me About Sales, Negotiations and Unconscious Bias

    • How to build rapport using intelligence profiling secrets
    • How to read body language to detect lies and understand your interlocutor
    • Learn to leverage a technique called “framing” to avoid confrontation and find ways to exploit areas of commonality

My Advantage as a Woman in the CIA

    • Use in-the-field techniques to turn challenging situations around so that you leave conversations in a positive way
    • Leverage women’s intuition to gain an “unfair” advantage in high-stakes negotiations
    • Ninja strategies to engage women and minorities in important conversations for collaboration and growth

Going Undercover: Finding Your Purpose in a Dangerous World

    • Secrets for escaping an attack or surviving an ambush that you can apply to pushing out of your comfort zone
    • How “going to war” teaches you to manage fear and elevates your game to elite levels
    • The role of faith in dealing with terrorists — and overcoming in life

Keynotes and Corporate Training Events


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