When the president swore in Pierson as director of the Secret Service in late March, Obama said she was "breaking the mold." As she is the first female director of the agency, it's easy to see what he means. But Pierson, 53, doesn't want to be known just as the first woman to lead the service. For her, breaking the mold means finding a way to show the public all the Secret Service can do. She started her career as a police officer for the City of Orlando, Fla., her hometown, but it didn't take long for the onetime political science and criminal-justice student at the University of Central Florida to make her way to the Secret Service. Pierson started at the agency when she was 23, several years younger than the average rookie. She came to Washington in 1988 when she was assigned to work at George H.W. Bush's White House. Since then, she has traveled with presidents to Afghanistan, Iraq, China, the Olympics. As she says, she's witnessed history. Pierson took the helm at a time of tumult following the prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, that embarrassed the agency in 2012. "As an organization, we have to remind each other how we're held to a higher standard," Pierson says. She has a perfect opportunity to break the mold.
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