Robert M. Gates served as secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama (2006-2011), the only secretary of defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in office by a newly elected president. He was an officer in the United States Air Force and spent nearly 27 years in the Central Intelligence Agency before being named Director of Central Intelligence in 1991 by President George H. W. Bush. A member of the National Security Council staff in four administrations, he ultimately served eight presidents of both political parties. He served as dean of the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University from 1999 to 2001, and as president of Texas A&M from 2002-2006. He is currently the Chancellor of the College of William and Mary, National Chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowships, and one of five independent members of the NCAA Board of Governors. He has written four books: From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (1996); Duty: Memoir of a Secretary at War (2014); A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service (2016); and Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World (2020). On his last day as secretary of defense, Gates was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
Aspen Strategy Group Member, Principal, Rice, Hadley, Gates, & Manuel, LLC, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense