"The Beginning": I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago called Park Ridge. I am the fifth of SEVEN children (six girls and one boy) and I attended Catholic school through the 8th grade. In high school, I played badminton and volleyball (I was even selected to the Junior Olympic volleyball team my junior year). I studied Criminal Justice and Spanish at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and, second semester junior year, I studied in Sevilla, Spain which sparked my insatiable travel bug.
Spain: Shortly after college graduation, I moved to Seville, Spain, where I spent three years developing my Spanish language skills, pursuing a series of foreign courses, and establishing international relationships. I also traveled all over Europe, with friends and by myself, and returned home with pretty much no money. It was beyond worth it!
U.S. Secret Service: I was recruited into the U.S. Secret Service upon my return to the United States from Spain and began my career as a Special Agent in the Washington Field Office during the Bush Sr. Administration. Believe it or not, I was the ONLY Spanish speaker in the Washington Field Office of the Secret Service – that kept me busy as a new Agent (that’s an understatement). I received what is considered some of the best training in the world and loved every minute.
Post Secret Service: Following my brief stint as a Secret Service Agent, I moved to Lima, Peru with the Organization of American States (OAS) with the duty to protect the OAS ambassador during an international election observation mission. Later, I was recruited on a Department of State contract to protect the President of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, during a period of civil and political turmoil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I am the only female to ever officially protect a foreign president outside of the United States. Those are just two examples of my protection missions. You can read about these and many other missions in my book, 'The Protector'.
Investigator: After leaving the Secret Service, I also worked as an investigator, in between protection assignments. I worked for The Investigative Group, a global leader in investigative intelligence, headquartered in Washington D.C. I was also contracted to lead an inquiry of illegal arms sales during the “Iraqgate” investigation and I conducted an investigation for ’60 Minutes’ on the infamous Duke Lacrosse scandal.
Forensic Psychology: As part of earning a Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology, I worked as a Counselor in the Stalking Unit of Victim Services in the borough of Queens in New York City, during which time I researched and created a Stalking Risk Assessment Prototype. After graduating and moving to San Diego, I co-authored a chapter of the book ‘Stalking Crimes and Victim Protection: Prevention, Intervention, and Threat Assessment’ entitled, “Stalking Trauma Syndrome and the Traumatized Victim”. In addition, I have provided Anti-Stalking training and seminars on violence against women around the country and have worked on a variety of teams to investigate and mitigate stalkers and stalking cases. I was a member of the Stalking Case Assessment Team (SCAT) in San Diego, California and continue to be a member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP).
Instructor: Just weeks after September 11th, I was selected to be a member of a five-person VIP Protection Instructor Team, providing Diplomatic Security training to foreign nationals under the U.S. State Department-sponsored Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA). I trained hundreds of protection agents from twenty countries at the ATA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico over an 18-month period.
Colombia: I worked in Bogotá, Colombia for two and a half years, under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy as the U.S. Security Advisor to the Minister of Defense and the Vice President of Colombia. During this time, I created a VIP Protection Training Program as well as a Training Academy just outside of Bogotá and served as an instructor, training members of the security teams for the President, Vice-President, and Minister of Defense of Colombia.
Post Colombia: Upon my return to the U.S., I reconnected with a former colleague and became the Vice President of Operations and Business Development for Abila Security and Investigations (ASI), based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Doctor MB: I resigned my position with ASI in order to pursue a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Widener University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was a 5-year endeavor and damn if it wasn’t way more work than I ever imagined.
Post Doctoral Work: I accepted a Post Doctoral Fellowship as a Psychotherapist at the The Southfield Center for Development in Darien, Connecticut. Here, I provided individual therapy, conducted psycho-educational testing, wrote evaluation reports, and co-lead social cognition groups. My client base was primarily children and adolescents. I also created and ran a week-long summer seminar for adolescent girls entitled, “Your Daughter… Self-Esteem, Self-Respect, Self Defense”.
Today: Today, I am an Adjunct Professor in the Psychology Department at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where I teach Abnormal Psychology and Psychology of Crime and Violence. I also do mental health trainings and continue to consult in the fields of Forensic and Clinical Psychology.