Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracy Walder.
Tracy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I entered college with every intention of becoming a high school history teacher. In the spring of 1999, my sorority sister and I hopped on our bikes and cruised down the main thoroughfare at USC. I was a history major, and a table saying “CIA, looking for History, and English majors” piqued my interest. I gave them my resume and fast forward a few months to when a background investigator was standing outside my sorority house while we were practicing for sorority recruitment.
I graduated with a degree history from the University of Southern California and became worked as Staff Operations Officer (SOO) at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counterterrorism Center Weapons of Mass Destruction Group. I was in the Counterterrorism Center on September 11th.
During my time at the CIA, I traveled to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. During my time there I received many awards for her service from both the CIA and from foreign intelligence offices. At the age of 25, I realized that though I absolutely loved my job and colleagues at the CIA, I knew that I did not wish to spend my life overseas, yet I was extremely passionate about the counter-terrorism mission. Thus, I applied to be a Special Agent at the FBI.
After graduating from the FBI Academy at Quantico, I became a Special Agent at the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office specializing in Chinese counterintelligence operations. I still had a nagging feeling that this wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
I left the bureau, and enrolled in both a master’s and a teaching credential program at Chapman University, receiving the award for student of the year. Upon graduating with my Masters, I began teaching high school history in 2007. Here is where I found my true calling. As a teacher at one of the largest all-girls schools in the country, I was able to create a course designed to expose girls to foreign policy, national security, terrorism, and the intelligence community.
I believe that the female voice is needed and is currently missing from law enforcement, national security, and foreign policy decisions. This is the only course of its kind offered in the US at the high school level. Students who have taken my class have interned at the FBI, the CIA and have enrolled at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Aside from my class, I wanted to reach a larger audience, so in 2016, I began writing for the Huffington Post; doing this, along with the encouragement of my students and family, encouraged me to begin writing a book about my life.
In August, I signed a book deal with Macmillan/St. Martins publishing to write a memoir and also signed a contract with ABC network and studio, in conjunction with Calamity Jane and Timberman/Beverly production companies, to create a TV series based on my book proposal.
Has it been a smooth road?
The booking process has not been as smooth as one would think. I wrote the proposal and shopped it to publishers for almost two years to the day until it was purchased. Publishers had a very difficult time coming to grips with the fact that I was in a sorority, incredibly girly and feminine, yet served tours in the Middle East and paid my dues at the FBI academy in Quantico. The feedback was that I didn’t fit the stereotype that they had and that no one would take me seriously. This was difficult to hear but finally, I found a publisher and a group of women who felt that this type of voice was needed.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
My book and TV show are unique in that they are all written by and about women only. I recently read a statistic that in TV shows, the average time that a woman spends talking with another woman is about two minutes. My show aims to change that as virtually the entire cast is female.
Additionally, my book reads very differently than most CIA and FBI memoirs. I enjoyed my time there, I don’t have an ax to grind. I am uber feminine, and that comes through in the book. It is important for girls and other women to see that you don’t have to conform to a specific mold to do what you want to do.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Dallas is an incredible city. I have lived here for about ten years now, and I call it home. The community is supportive, encouraging, and forward-thinking.
- Website: https://www.tracywalder.com/
- Phone: 9494665100
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: @Tracy_Walder
- Other: https://deadline.com/2018/11/the-sorority-girl-who-saved-your-life-cia-drama-abc-wendy-mericle-ellen-pompeo-sarah-timberman-carl-beverly-1202497189/
Kent Barker Photography