Kelli Arena has been appointed as the National Security Agency’s chief of strategic communications, Admiral Michael Rogers, NSA director, announced April 21.
Arena, a graduate of New York University, has had a wide and varied career as an award-winning journalist, communications trainer, and educator. Most recently, she served as the executive director of the Global Center for Journalism and Democracy at Sam Houston State University in Texas, where she held the Dan Rather Endowed Chair.
Previous to that position, Arena spent more than two decades at CNN as a correspondent. During that time, she covered stories ranging from the Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo to the London financial center bombings to the September 11th attacks. After leaving CNN, she was CEO of her own business and worked as a communications strategist and advisor in branding, outreach, and crisis management. She traveled the globe as a communications and media consultant, and has contributed to various female empowerment projects. Arena has also served as a leadership trainer for various law enforcement and corrections entities.
NSA leadership praised Arena’s varied background and broad expertise, noting that her diverse experience makes her well suited to lead NSA’s communications organization, which manages not only engagement with the public and media, but also NSA’s globally dispersed workforce. “NSA’s need for thoughtful and strategic communications, both internally and externally, has never been greater,” Rogers said. “Her efforts will ensure public understanding of NSA’s critical contributions to national security.”
Arena noted that her previous experiences as a national security correspondent and as a communications and media consultant fueled her interest in working at NSA. “I am pleased and honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the mission of the National Security Agency,” she said. “I look forward to leading a team of talented professionals dedicated to helping the American public understand the great work that is done throughout our enterprise, and to highlighting the critical role the NSA plays in protecting and defending the nation.”