John Brennan, Former CIA Director, Delivers 15th Jarvis Lecture

On October 23, former director of the CIA John Brennan delivered Roxbury Latin’s 15th annual Jarvis International Lecture. In his address to boys, faculty, trustees and guests, Mr. Brennan spoke about his path to the CIA and a life of public service; dispelled myths about the agency; outlined the top global concerns that young Americans should pay attention to; and shared his advice on what young people can do now to prepare themselves well for the future. [Read the entirety of Mr. Brennan’s address here.] After his remarks in Hall, Mr. Brennan took many questions from the audience; joined students, faculty and guests for a reception; and sat with several senior writers of The Tripod for a complete interview.


The Jarvis Lecture, supported by the Jarvis International Fund, is a gift of Jack Hennessy ’54, and his wife, Margarita. Named for RL’s 10th headmaster, Reverend Tony Jarvis, the fund honors his commitment and life’s work and also affirms the Hennessys’ conviction that Americans benefit from greater exposure to issues concerning the United States’ place in the world. Recent Jarvis Lecturers include Lisa Monaco, homeland security advisor and chief counterterrorism advisor to President Obama, who spoke in 2016; and, in 2017, Ambassador Mark Storella ’77, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. This year’s Jarvis Lecture had particular and poignant significance, as the Reverend Tony Jarvis died just weeks ago, on October 7, after a long battle with cancer.


John Brennan served as director of the CIA from 2013 until 2017, during which time he was responsible for leading and managing intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign intelligence services. From 2009 to 2013, he served as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. During that time, he advised President Obama on counterterrorism strategy and helped coordinate the U.S. government’s approach to homeland security, including its policies for responding to terrorism, cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and pandemics.

Mr. Brennan began his service in government at the CIA in 1980. There he specialized in Middle Eastern affairs and counterterrorism and spent significant portions of his earlier career stationed in Saudi Arabia. He later served as the CIA’s daily intelligence briefer to President Bill Clinton, Chief of Staff to then Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, and Deputy Executive Director of the CIA.  In 2003, he led a multi-agency effort to establish what would become the National Counterterrorism Center, becoming the Center’s first Director in 2004. After his first retirement from the CIA in 2005, Mr. Brennan worked in the private sector for three years, during which time he also served as Chairman of the Board of the nonprofit Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Mr. Brennan currently serves as a Distinguished Fellow at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School; a Distinguished Scholar at the University of Texas, Austin; a Senior Advisor at Kissinger Associates Inc.; a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC and MSNBC; and a consultant to a variety of private sector companies.