Sarah Chervenak ’93 to deliver keynote address at Wesleyan’s 2021 commencement exercises



Sarah Chervenak ’93 entered duty as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1997. Her first assignment was to the Washington Field Office (WFO) where she served for eleven years. During her time in Washington, Sarah worked cases and investigations in international terrorism and cyber counterterrorism and was a member of the Rapid Deployment Team. While at WFO, she responded to and assisted in the 1998 investigation of the U.S. Embassy bombing in Tanzania and served as a case agent for the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, just two miles from her office. She was responsible for investigations in multiple countries and cultures connected to the attack.


In 1999, Sarah was part of the multi-agency search for convicted Atlanta Centennial Park bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. In 2001 and 2002 she assisted in the John Walker Lindh, a.k.a. “The American Taliban,” investigation that eventually led Lindh to a twenty-year sentence in federal prison.


Sarah transferred to the Los Angeles Field Office in 2008 to serve as a special agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. She worked counterterrorism cases and was the case agent for a complex investigation of a target associated with a foreign power and designated terrorist. In September 2010, she was promoted to supervisory special agent and transferred to FBI headquarters. In the Directorate of Intelligence, she was responsible for program managing the FBI’s engagement with state and local fusion centers and authored the FBI’s 2011 engagement strategy with fusion centers.


She was selected to lead the FBI’s team responsible for designing and implementing the Threat Review and Prioritization Process initiative in January 2012. The new standardization process revolutionized the way FBI operational divisions and field offices prioritize national and local threat issues, determine FBI National Threat Priorities, and develop national-level mitigation strategies. Sarah and her team earned the 2015 Director’s Award for Excellence in Program Management for their extraordinary achievements in the improvement of operational and program effectiveness.


In October 2012 Sarah was promoted to unit chief of the Directorate of Intelligence’s newly established Office of Partner Engagement Unit. She program managed the FBI’s engagement with state and local fusion centers and implemented initiatives to enhance the FBI’s relationships, partnerships, and collaboration efforts with Intelligence Community (IC), law enforcement, and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners. In February 2014 the Office of Partner Engagement became a division within the FBI’s Intelligence Branch. Sarah played an instrumental role in building the division, and served as the acting section chief for thirteen months, with responsibility over four units dedicated to FBI domestic information sharing programs and initiatives.


Sarah was detailed to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from May 2015 to May 2016. She supported numerous partner engagement initiatives across the IC, advancing integration among IC, federal, and SLTT partners on priority threats. She also served as a subject matter expert on FBI matters.


In June 2016, Sarah returned to the FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement. As a unit chief, she implemented initiatives to enhance the FBI’s relationships, partnerships, and collaboration efforts with Intelligence Community (IC), law enforcement, and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners. She currently oversees several FBI priority programs, to include the eGuardian/Threat to Life Initiative, Domestic Director of National Intelligence Representative Program, and a comprehensive training initiative developed for SLTT partners.


Sarah retired from the FBI in March 2021with twenty-four years of global law enforcement experience and accepted a position with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research in April 2021. As a senior research associate, Sarah continues to provide support to law enforcement and criminal justice programs and initiatives in defense of national security.


Coming to Wesleyan from Columbus, Georgia, Sarah was on the basketball and tennis teams and was captain of the soccer team. Her soccer jersey was retired in 1993. A history and political science major with a minor in biology, Sara earned a juris doctorate degree from Samford University Cumberland School of Law in 1996. During Alumnae Weekend, 2008, the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association honored her with the Young Alumna Award “for the love of her country; for her dedication to protecting the people of the United States of America; for her commitment to making our world a safer place to live; and for her efforts to end terrorism."


Sarah and her husband Keith live in Herndon, Virginia, and are proud parents to their son Miko.

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