Michele Rigby Assad, a PBA graduate and former undercover officer in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations, spoke about her decade of service with the agency. Trained as a counterterrorism specialist, Michele served her country for ten years, working in Iraq and other secret Middle Eastern locations. Upon retirement from active service, Michele and her husband Joseph (also a former agent) joined a group of Americans who wished to aid persecuted Christians. Their efforts resulted in the evacuation of a group from northern Iraq that was featured on ABC’s 20/20.
“We are grateful for the record number of guests that supported Palm Beach Atlantic student scholarships by attending the Alumni Afternoon,” said Steve Eshelman, director of Alumni Relations. “It was exciting to have Michele share her story of faith and perseverance.”
Michele's new book Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What’s Worth Fighting For reveals how courage and determination enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Her rise from modest beginnings in rural Central Florida was fueled by a fascination for the Middle East which she discovered in college. Despite this early realization, Michele’s efforts to find her place of purpose were filled with rejection and uncertainty before they took her to frontlines of the war on terror. Detailing the arc of her career progression, Michele reminds us of the importance of faith and the criticality of hanging on, especially when you are tempted to fold.
The Mona Lisa Tribe, an all-girl folk band made up of Palm Beach Atlantic University alumnae, played during the silent auction. Chris Moody, a PBA graduate and former CNN correspondent, was the moderator.
Major event sponsors included Beautyfool Hair Studio, NutraMedix, Mandy & Justin Girard, Frances Fisher, The Palm Beach Post, Natalie M. Alvarez, Deborah Jaffe, and Mittleman Eyecare.
Event committee members were Natalie M. Alvarez, Jessica Clasby, Nadine Costigan, Janie Thomas Fogt, Mandy Girard, Michele Purino, Joanna Sjoberg, Jenna Steffens, Laura Titus, Geanine Wester and Annah Wolf.