THE PROTECTOR:
A WOMAN’S JOURNEY FROM THE SECRET SERVICE TO GUARDING VIPS AND WORKING IN SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS PLACES

IN 2003, WHEN THE U.S. Embassy in Colombia needed a female protection agent who was fluent in Spanish, was a former federal law enforcement agent and had extensive international experience to co-lead a team protecting top Colombian officials including the president, they called Mary Beth Wilkas. At the time, Colombia was nicknamed “the kidnap capital of the world.” Its government was in the throes of a bloody war with guerilla and terrorist groups. Three Americans had just been kidnapped and the State Department had issued an alarming Level 3 (Orange) Travel Advisory.

 

To Mary Beth, this was a dream job.

 

In her debut memoir, The Protector: A Woman’s Journey From the Secret Service to Guarding VIPs and Working in Some of the World’s Most Dangerous Places, Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke—a former US Secret Service Agent who is now a forensic and clinical psychologist—recounts her extraordinary journey as one of a tiny minority of women (9%) in the Secret Service in the early 1990s, and one of the few female VIP protection agents. Females are so rare in this field, and one with Mary Beth’s skill set has earned her the moniker, “unicorn”.

 

Mary Beth was also the first and only female instructor in the history of the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATA). Trained to observe astutely, fight in life-or-death circumstances, use weapons and execute high-speed maneuvers in vehicles, she has worked undercover, sized up foreign generals for trustworthiness, had a bounty placed on her head, and kept a watchful eye on drugged-up thugs on the streets of countries such as Haiti, Peru, and Colombia. High-profile individuals she has protected include members of the Versace family, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the grandchildren of President George H. W. Bush.

 

As The Protector reveals, Mary Beth has also been unjustly investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and ultimately, dismissed from service for a paperwork technicality years after it occurred. Yet when advised by her attorney to take the go-to route of filing a sexual harassment claim, she adamantly declined. She did not feel it was true in her case, although doing so would have likely meant keeping her job.

 

In a relatable tone laced with humor and wit, The Protector delivers a satisfying, up-close and personal look at these events—as well as valuable insights into the level-headedness, self-confidence, and mental and physical toughness it took for Mary Beth to not only win at this game no one expected her to play—but to kick ass. Not taken seriously because she’s a woman? Mary Beth saw this as an invitation to excel. Keeping up with men in a workout? An easy task for Mary Beth. Staving off an attack on an Ambassador? “Never let them see you sweat” is her inspiring motto.

SHOOTING WITH THE HEAD OF SECURITY FOR THE COLOMBIAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE

ATA SECURITY ASSESSMENT

LIBYA

TACTICAL FIREARMS TRAINING

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA

REVIEWS

READ THIS NOW!!!—Every review of this book will say it’s courageous, inspirational, impossible to put down, etc. because it’s simply true. You will not find a more level-headed, devoted, and empathic individual than former US Secret Service Special Agent, freelance Protection Agent, Investigator, Forensic Psychologist, VIP Protection Instructor, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Psychology Professor, Self-Esteem Mentor, and now Author, Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke. She wears so many hats because there is not a single challenge that she will not fight endlessly for and overcome with remarkable ability. This memoir is captivating, inspiring, VERY entertaining, and more importantly, carries a message that everyone should hear. Mary Beth is a voice for the generations. She is woman, hear her roar.”

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Wonder Woman—What an inspiration. As a movie fan: When does production start? Bond. Mary Beth Bond. No. Wait. She’s better than Bond. She’s a real person. This is a best seller. No. Wait it’s a textbook. Women, girls and men who want to excel need to read this book. No. Wait. It’s not a book. It’s a story. A true story. Wow! I’m out of breath. Thank you!”

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A Page Turner! An inspirational story told by a remarkable woman.—I loved that this is a story of setbacks and triumphs. Due to the way Mary Beth viewed things in her life, she rose to challenges most people would not have dared, especially women. She writes about these challenges and how they motivated her to do things that seemed impossible. She did not let perceived setbacks get her down. She used them as learning opportunities. I enjoyed the details of a career in government and international protection and then the down to earth nature of her upbringing with a large family in a Chicago suburb. I loved how honest Mary Beth is in this biography. Her story is exciting, dangerous at more points than I would like to know and intriguing. This is a GREAT read for anyone! I highly recommend this book.”

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Honest, straightforward and candid account of and by a true professional taking on the challenges of national and international security in a predominantly male environment—Dr. Wilkas Janke's personal account of her journey as she climbed the ladder of national and international VIP security, taking on every challenge she encountered, not only achieving but highly exceeding each goal is excellent. In a professional field where males outnumber females by a huge percentage Dr. Wilkes Jenke not only stood her ground but literally forged the path for not only women but also for men to follow. One of the many personal attributes that came out in her book, front and center, was the fact Dr. Wilkes Jenke never stood behind a feminist shield, she grabbed the standard of professional security and led the way. She took on challanges and when she encountered stumbling blocks she stomped on them and went forward, stronger than before.As a career (male) security professional, I highly recommend this book, with one caution, the reader will find it almost impossible to put it down!

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Men and women get ready for this amazing odyssey that transcends all gender roles!—From the first word to the last sentence my imagination went wild reading this book. It was colorful, visceral, informative and entertaining. Mary Beth's abilities as a writer allowed me to feel, see and at times smell the environments she brought me into. The more I read, the more I had thoughts of the level of physical and mental training she must have sustained to maintain her role as The Protector. Wow! I was left with a palpable sense of a power that I have only imagined in movies like Aliens with Sigourney Weaver. I felt an exciting tension in my body as I read about each situation as if I might not make it to safety. This intimate and accessible adventure with Mary Beth is for everyone!”

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