Former Secretary of Defense, CIA Director Robert Gates to Speak at Western’s Leadership Forum Nov. 17

Former Secretary of Defense and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Robert Gates will be the keynote speaker at the 2016 Western Washington University Leadership Forum on Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Hotel Bellwether in Bellingham.

Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. with lunch service beginning at noon; the keynote address will begin at 12:45 p.m.

Gates served as the 22nd secretary of defense (2006-2011) and is the only secretary of defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected President. President Barack Obama was the eighth president Gates served. He previously served under President George W. Bush.

On Gates' last day in office, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

Before becoming secretary of defense in 2006, Gates was the president of Texas A&M University, one of the nation’s largest universities. Prior to assuming the Texas A&M presidency on Aug. 1, 2002, he served as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.

Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent almost 27 years as an intelligence professional. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.

Gates served as director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He served as deputy director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as assistant to the President and deputy national security adviser at the White House from Jan. 20, 1989 until Nov. 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush.

Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has three times received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

He is the author of three books, “A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service,” published in 2016; “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” published in 2014; and “From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War,” published in 1996.  “A Passion for Leadership” will be on sale at the event, and Gates will be signing purchased copies as well.

The WWU Leadership Forum is an annual opportunity for business and civic leaders to connect with friends of the university and to enjoy an address by a prominent professional. The title sponsor for the event is Moss Adams, a nationally recognized accounting and consulting firm.

All proceeds from the event support student scholarships and table sponsorships are available at the $1,500 Mount Challenger, $2,500 Mount Shuksan and $3,500 Mount Baker levels. Individual tickets are available for $125 each.

Reservations can be made online at or by calling (360) 650-6825. For more information, contact John Dlouhy, WWU director of Special Events, at (360) 650-3629 or