To all the world Tracy Walder looks like the All-American girl, and she is… to a degree. Sure, the California blonde was a sorority gal (Delta Gamma to be specific) and was studying at the University of Southern California. But her predictable life course changed when she attended a job fair where she met a CIA recruiter. After graduating from USC with a degree in history, she spent the “next five years as a cover operative for CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, assuming aliases, thwarting terrorist attacks and hiding in the trunks of cars on her way to debrief terrorists at black sites.”
Over the years, her work took around the world from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and other countries that aren’t on the usual vacation tour packages. Thanks to her efforts, she received four Exceptional Performance Awards from the Director of the CIA, two Special Activity Awards, a Meritorious Unit Citation Award, a DCI Counterterrorism Center Medal and two Operation Enduring Freedom Targeting Awards. She even earned the tag of “Malibu Barbie” from a top African official.
As if this entry in her resume wasn’t enough, Tracy joined the FBI in Los Angeles where she specialized in Chinese counterintelligence operations.
After 15 months and helping to take down a Chinese spy ring, she went back to college, picking up her master’s and a teaching credential program that led her to teaching history and “a self-created course on national security and foreign policy for over a decade.” Her hope was to let young women learn that they could have careers in the government and intelligence. The plan brought her to North Texas, where she taught history at The Hockaday School for ten years as well as wrote a memoir titled “The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World’s Most Notorious Terrorists”.
On Thursday, January 21, Tracy was to be the keynote speaker at the National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas Section’s 108th birthday luncheon at the Westin Galleria, where Dr. Michael Hinojosa was to receive the Pioneering Partner Award. The good news is that plans still call for Tracy to speak and Michael to receive the award, but due to COVID-19 the event will not take place at the hotel. It will be a virtual get-together thanks to Honorary Co-Chairs Joni and Bob Cohan, Effie Dennison and Joe Milkes.
This move to online has pluses. Tickets for the virtual presentation are going for just $54.
* Photo courtesy of National Council of Jewish Woman Greater Dallas Section