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Tony & Jonna Mendez

Both Tony and Jonna Mendez are former Central Intelligence Agency Chiefs of Disguise.

Tony’s career spanned twenty-five years as he worked undercover in the most important theaters of the Cold War. As the Chief of Disguise and later as the Chief of the Graphics and Authentication Division, he and his staff were responsible for changing the identity and appearance of thousands of clandestine operatives. In 1980, Mr. Mendez was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor for single-handedly engineering and overseeing the rescue of six US diplomats from Iran during the hostage crisis.

In 2012, Ben Affleck directed the major motion picture "ARGO" about this story, starring as Mendez, with Warner Brothers Studios and George Clooney producing. The award-winning film earned the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2013.

By the time Mendez retired, he had also earned the CIA's Intelligence Medal of Merit, the Intelligence Star and two Certificates of Distinction. In September of 1997, in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the CIA, he was one of only fifty officers chosen to receive the Trailblazer Medallion. Jonna is a retired CIA intelligence officer who lived undercover for 27 years in such places as Germany, Thailand, and India, specializing in clandestine photography. Her duties included instructing the CIA's most highly placed foreign assets in the use of spy cameras and the processing of intelligence gathered by them. Her impressive record afforded her the opportunity to work in Southeast Asia as a generalist in Disguise, Identity Transformation and Clandestine Imaging. In 1988, she was promoted first to Deputy Chief of Disguise and then, Chief of Disguise. She retired from the government in 1993, earning the CIA's Intelligence Commendation Medal.

Presentation Topics

The Life of a Female Spy: An overview of female spies throughout history

Jonna Mendez served twenty-seven years with the CIA and retired as the Chief of Disguise. She tells spy tales about a number of effective and not so effective female spies. She also discusses her own experiences, living and traveling around the world, operating in the alleyways of Europe and the Far East, participating in classic espionage operations.

The Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Canadian Caper: A review of America’s first battle in the war against radical Islamic terror

Tony Mendez was intimately involved in all aspects of the Iranian Hostage Crisis and ran one of its most exciting operations: the rescue of six American diplomats from Iran. He will tell these stories, including some aspects of the crisis never before publicly released. He will also give a review of how he sees this war evolving today and will pass on some of his lessons learned.

The Real "Q": Gadgets and Technologies in Espionage Operations

Tony and Jonna Mendez served over fifty years combined in the Office of Technical Service, the technical arm of the CIA’s operations directorate. They give an overview of technical operations and the spy gear that made them unique. These gadgets were designed to keep foreign agents in place in hostile environments and to get them out of harm’s way when it was time. They finish with an in-depth review of operational disguise and identity transformation operations where they tell stories of some of their life and death operations designed to elude surveillance and move intelligence agents and officers clandestinely around the world.

Disguise, Deception, and Illusion: Clandestine Operations Using of the Principles of Magic

Throughout history warfare has been conducted by the use of deception and illusion. Tony and Jonna Mendez, both former chief’s of disguise for the CIA, review some of the most important deception operations throughout history. With the use of the art of magic, illusion, and misdirection many enemies have been defeated without taking the field of battle. The Mendez’ recount stories of deception as it was used by the Allies in the Battle of El Alamien and “D” Day. Going to Hollywood they learned how to manage the “stage” on the streets of Moscow, helping win the Cold War. They also give examples of how the “stage” of battle could be better managed today in the war against terrorism.