President Obama Appoints First Female Secret Service Director

April 23, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. rise through the ranks 
[rahyz throo th uh rangks] (idiom) – to achieve a higher position in an organization, company or institution after working in a series of lower positions
Example: With determination and hard work, Sarah quickly rose through the ranks to become the CEO of the company.

2. outgoing [OUT-goh-ing, -GOH-] (adj.) – leaving or retiring from a position
Example:  The outgoing chairman will turn over important documents to his replacement.

3. preeminent [pree-EM-uh-nuh nt]  (adj.) –  superior; more significant or better than others
Example:  The country’s preeminent public servants received special awards.

4. counterfeit [KOUN-ter-fit] (v.) – to make a fake copy of something that misleads people
Example:  In the US, people who counterfeit money can be imprisoned.

5. embroil [em-BROIL] (v.) – to involve something or someone in a confusing or difficult situation
Example:  The two countries got embroiled in a territorial dispute.

Read the text below.

President Barack Obama has named Julia Pierson as the new director of the U.S. Secret Service, the government's law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the U.S. president. Pierson is the first woman to ever hold the position.

Pierson has been serving in the Miami and Orlando field offices of the Secret Service since 1983. She started as a special agent, rose through the ranks and is currently the agency's chief of staff. Pierson will replace outgoing director Mark Sullivan.

According to Obama, Pierson's 30-year experience in protective operations, human resources and training make her highly qualified to lead one of the nation's most preeminent agencies.

The U.S. Secret Service was originally created to stop the counterfeiting of the U.S. money. Today, the agency also ensures the protection of national and foreign leaders and the security of national places and events.

Recently, the Secret Service faced controversy after it was embroiled in a prostitution scandal a year ago in which eight employees were found to have misbehaved and were consequently removed from position.

Aside from being the first female Secret Service director, Pierson is also Obama’s first female appointee as head of a national security agency. The president had been criticized for appointing only men in the top security departments such as the Pentagon, State Department and the CIA.

Some of the president's other female appointees include Sally Jewel as head of the Interior Department, Gina McCarthy as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Mary Jo White as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think the U.S. Secret Service never had a female director before?
·         In your opinion, can a woman handle the job of protecting government officials, such as the president?

Discussion B

·         How can we lessen gender inequality in the workplace?
·         Do you think women today have a lot more opportunities than before, especially in business and politics? Why or why not?


April 23, 2013