The Emerging Voices in National Security and Intelligence Program at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies presents:


“Expertise, Another Word for Bias” with Carmen Medina

Thursday, October 19, 2023


Garden Room 2, First Floor, Faculty House

Directions to Faculty House


Watch the recording here.

Hosted by V. Page Fortna, Director, Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies; Harold Brown Professor of US Foreign and Security Policy, Department of Political Science, Columbia University

Introduced by Peter Clement, Senior Research Scholar, Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies; Adjunct Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

With Carmen Medina, Owner, MedinAnalytics LLC; Former Deputy Director of Intelligence; Central Intelligence Agency; Former Director, Center for the Study of Intelligence

Expertise is lauded as the ultimate competence of intelligence professionals. But when expertise becomes the filter you use to interpret current events, it functions much like any other cognitive bias. Carmen Medina will explore the implications of this dynamic for the Intelligence Community and offer ways of overcoming it.

Speaker Bio: 

Carmen, a retired Senior Federal Executive with 32 years’ experience in the Intelligence Community, is a recognized national and international expert on intelligence analysis, strategic thinking, diversity of thought, and innovation and intrapreneurs in the public sector. She is the co-author of the book: Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. Her story as a change agent at CIA is featured in Wharton School professor Adam Grant’s bestseller Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

Carmen is an in-demand expert on critical thinking, diversity of thought, and intrapreneurship, speaking to Fortune 500 companies, major non-profits, and governments. She will be speaking this summer at the Melting Pot idea festival in the Czech Republic on being a successful change agent at work. Her most recent engagements were at NASA, and in Belfast, Northern Ireland speaking to medical professionals about teamwork. She has appeared numerous times at South by Southwest, most recently in 2022 discussing Precognition and Intelligence analysis. She also spoke at SXSW2019 and TEDxMidAtlantic on Surviving as a Change Agent, at SXSW2018 on avoiding the Mediocrity Trap, and on Critical Thinking at SXSW 2017. 

From 2005-2007 Carmen was part of the executive team that led the CIA’s Analysis Directorate. She was a leader on diversity issues at the CIA, serving on equity boards at all organizational levels and across Directorates. She was the first CIA executive to conceptualize many IT applications now used by analysts, including blogs, online production, and collaborative tools; she personally gave the approval for Intellipedia. As a senior executive, Carmen in 2005 began using social networking and blogs to reach her diverse workforce. In her last assignment before retiring she oversaw the CIA’s Lessons Learned program. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. 

Carmen describes herself as Puerto Rican by birth and Texan by nationality. She likes to garden and cook things that she has grown. She is currently active in mentoring women in the national security field as a founding member of Amazing Women in the Intelligence Community and serves on the boards of the National Intelligence University and the National Security Institute.