For 22 years I served as an executive manager, leader, and analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). I ran regional analytical units that followed high-profile issues in the Middle East and South and East Asia. As Deputy Director of the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center, I helped drive Agency analysis of foreign weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons, and technology development programs. I also served several years in the Directorate of Operations.
At the Agency I also worked in training and personnel development. I ran leadership and management training within the Directorate of Analysis (DA) and created and taught a key leadership course for DA managers. At the end of my career I was the DA’s first Lead Talent Officer. I also ran several large analyst recruiting efforts and was a frequent lecturer on campuses, where I developed close relationships with professors and students at several schools.
A few years ago I decided it was time for new challenges, so I left the Agency for the private sector. My first foray was as principal at a homeland security consulting company, which exposed me to the ins and outs of the contracting world and subjects ranging from cyber security to risk analysis. My second leap was even further out of my comfort zone, as I became Director of Operations for a big data analytics software company.
When I came back to the States, I did some soul searching and realized helping others develop their leadership and management skills was my true passion. I drew on my successes and failures as a supervisor and created my Leadership and Management Development Program, which I’ve delivered over the past four years to the public and private sectors. Along the way I created my Presenting With Purpose Workshop to teach professionals a better way to convey information orally. More recently I’ve added professional writing instruction to the mix.
After a brief detour co-founding, building, and selling an online training company, I’ve expanded my training efforts with Savos Training Associates. I’m partnering with other former Agency analysts to provide my material to audiences around the country and, eventually, the world.
Before coming to Virginia to work for the Agency, I spent my entire life in New England. I earned my BA in government at Dartmouth College and my PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I am passionate about teaching, coaching, and mentoring professionals and teams. During my 17 years in the public and private sectors, 10 of which I spent in the CIA, I honed my skills in people, communication, presenting, analysis, and leadership. My career was never traditional. I had the pleasure of working in multiple disciplines, and the breadth of experiences I gained allows me to appreciate and reﬂect on the lessons I am committed to passing on to others.
At CIA, I served in both the Directorate of Analysis and Directorate of Operations. I spent almost half of my Agency career as an executive briefer, serving as one of 16 President’s Daily Briefers before dual-hatting as the Chief of the Research Branch and CIA Director’s briefer for an operational unit. As a counterterrorism analyst, I wrote dozens of strategic and analytic papers for the president and senior policymakers and interacted with multiple international liaison partners. I enjoyed a unique relationship with the US military while serving as a CIA military liaison oﬃcer and had the privilege of traveling all over the world, to include a combat zone.
In 2016, I left the Agency to gain experience in the corporate sector and grow a family. From 2016 to 2020, I worked at the international healthcare organization Mayo Clinic. I led Mayo’s Executive Oﬃce for two years and then developed a ﬁrst-ever intelligence function while assisting with the design and build of a Global Security Operations Center. I also served as faculty for a leadership training program teaching best practices in executive brieﬁng, eﬀective communication, and executive presence. It was not until I started teaching that I knew I had found my true passion.
In 2020, I decided to pursue training and coaching as a career, and enrolled in Penn State University’s Psychology of Leadership master’s program. In 2021, I joined Chris Savos as Vice President of Savos Training Associates to teach leadership and critical professional skills to the public and private sectors. I also founded SGN Professional Training, LLC in February 2022 to provide 1:1 leadership and skills coaching to clients in the Midwest.
I grew up in Los Angeles, California, and attended Washington State University where I earned my BA in Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Psychology. Having grown up on the West Coast, started my career on the East Coast, and now cemented my family roots in the Midwest, I truly love exploring all corners of the US and diverse cultures throughout the world. My husband and I have two young children and live in Rochester, Minnesota. We are an active family that loves to bear the below-freezing temperatures on cross-country skis or sleds in the winter and spend the summer hiking, running, and cycling. We are also committed to growing as dedicated members of and volunteers in our community.
Denny Watson spent most of her career at the CIA where she created and led several large, innovative programs and served as a President’s Daily Briefer (PDB), first for Vice President Gore and later for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Her CIA postings additionally include Chief of Staff of the National Resources Division, Chief of the Mission Performance Center, and Chief of the Emerging Issues and Advanced Analytics Group. She also completed tours as a State Department Political Officer in Mexico City and as an Economic Officer, where she traveled extensively throughout the former Soviet Union to help establish US Embassies in the newly independent states. Rounding out her government service, Denny also served as a staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Denny received her BA in International Affairs and MBA from The George Washington University and taught as an adjunct faculty member at both GWU and at Georgetown University. After leaving federal service in 2012, Denny moved to the private sector where she has been delivering analytic solutions to address global risk challenges, including at The Crumpton Group, The Risk Assistance Network + Exchange (RANE), and now at Whitespace, a data analytics company.
I began my intelligence career in 1982 with CIA and over the succeeding 40 years served successfully as analyst, advisor, leader, briefer, creator/architect, and Senior Executive at the Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and in the private sector at Thomson Reuters Special Services (TRSS) as its first Director of Analysis.
My first assignment in the Agency was as a military analyst writing assessments on Soviet strategic nuclear forces, including many for the PDB. Serving in that role for nearly 10 years, I completed two tours as an intelligence advisor to US arms control delegations and co-drafted two National Intelligence Estimates on the United States’ ability to monitor Soviet compliance with the INF and START Treaties. These experiences early in my career honed my analytic and writing skills and developed my broader understanding of the interface between the intelligence and policy communities and interactions with Congress.
After transitioning to more senior analytic positions addressing environmental security issues and global territorial conflicts, I led the effort to design a methodology to better identify those countries at most risk of instability at the request of senior US policymakers. This effort evolved into the more robust State Failure Task Force (now Political Instability Task Force). Following this assignment, I led one of the teams focused on supporting the Middle East Peace Process, providing direct support to senior US officials.
From mid-1999 to January 2001, I served as Vice President Al Gore’s PDB briefer and the back-up briefer to the Clinton Administration in the West Wing. While in my previous analytic and leadership assignments I wrote and reviewed PDB articles, I gained a much deeper appreciation and understanding of what works for senior policymakers. This understanding was further reinforced when roughly 10 years later I returned to the PDB to provide daily intelligence briefings to President Barack Obama and his national security team.
Between briefing stints, I expanded a DA Issue Group in response to the growing importance of the region to US policymakers that became the new Office of South Asia Analysis. This experience led to being named the National Intelligence Manager for South Asia, reporting directly to the Director of National Intelligence as his key advisor on the region. In this role, I designed an organization that more effectively engaged the Intelligence Community and encouraged results-oriented interaction among key stakeholders.
I joined TRSS as Director of Analysis in 2015 where, over the next four years, I grew and professionalized the company’s rapidly expanding cadre of analysts and product line. With my leadership team, I designed an organizational structure, created standard analytic products, initiated analytic writing and training programs, developed a style guide, and instituted a career service including promotion criteria and succession plans. I then moved on to co-found TRSS International Ltd., a London-based company focused on data-based risk analysis for government and commercial clients.
I live in Williamsburg, Virginia, with my wife, who also served a long career in the Federal Government before retiring recently. We enjoy all of what the Historic Triangle has to offer, particularly outdoors activities. I earned my BA and MA degrees in Political Geography from Towson University in my native Baltimore, Maryland, and served there as adjunct faculty. I also have been a guest lecturer on intelligence writing and briefing at various universities in the United States.
Parker Schaffel is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach who helps clients tackle important challenges through channeling the best of their innate talents. With more than 10 years of coaching and leadership instruction experience, Parker is an engaging, skilled coach who can facilitate deep conversations with employees at all levels.
Parker first became involved in leadership development training in 2011, when he partnered with a colleague at the CIA to create a professional development course based on the book The Tao of Daily Life by Derek Lin. Following two years of service in the Middle East with the CIA, State Department and US Navy, Parker began his coaching journey in 2014 through the Coaching to Excellence seminar from New Ventures West. In 2017, Parker was selected to be an adjunct instructor for the CIA’s Leadership Styles and Behaviors, a week-long, offsite leadership development program for CIA’s junior leaders.
Parker left the CIA in 2020 to lead and supervise the Partnership for Public Service’s marketing team, while also serving as a lead instructor for the organization’s Preparing to Lead program. This seven-month, eight-session program for federal employees helped participants develop and put into practice the leadership skills they needed to be effective public servants.
In 2023, Parker decided to make coaching and leadership development his primary focus, starting his own coaching practice and becoming a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach.
He earned his BA in humanities from The Ohio State University and is a native of the Washington, DC area.
Philip Baxter teaches all of our courses in the Open-Source Methods and Analytics and Modeling, Simulations, and Scenarios Programs. He is the Managing Director of Hatteras Solutions, LLC, a small business consultancy focused on providing open-source analytics to public and private sector clients on emerging security risks. Phil is an expert in international security, geopolitical analysis, and open-source intelligence (OSINT). He has nearly two decades of experience in the international security domain, having worked in the public sector, for non-profits, and in academia. He is currently an Assistant Professor with the Intelligence Analysis Program at James Madison University. He received his PhD in International Affairs, Science, and Technology from the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.