Jonna Mendez is a former Central Intelligence Agency Chief of Disguise.
A former Chief of Disguise in the CIA’s Office of Technical Service, Ms. Mendez is also a specialist in clandestine photography using subminiature cameras. Her 27- year career, for which she earned CIA’s Intelligence commendation Medal, included operational disguise and photo responsibilities in the most hostile theaters of the Cold War, from Havana to Moscow to Beijing and ultimately into the Oval Office. She is currently a fine arts photographer, author, lecturer and consultant on intelligence matters. She worked with her husband in writing Spy Dust: A True Story of Espionage and Romance, and the book ARGO. They are currently writing Moscow Rules, to be published in autumn of 2018.
Jonna Mendez has fabricated disguises around the world, in the most hostile cities in the world. She is able to take a well-known figure and quickly disguise them to the level that they basically disappear and their colleagues would not be able to recognize them. This has proven to be an excellent way to bring her talks home to her audience, and she can combine the fascinating clandestine disguise of an “Undercover Boss” with any of her presentation topics below.
Jonna Mendez served 27 years undercover with the CIA, retiring as Chief of Disguise. She relates spy tales about a number of effective and not so effective female spies, and also discusses her own experiences, living and traveling around the world, operating in the alleyways of Europe, the Far East and the Subcontinent, in alias identities, participating in classic espionage operations.
From Sun Tzu to the present, warfare has been conducted by the use of deception and illusion. Jonna Mendez, former Chief of Disguise for the CIA, reviews some of the most important deception operations through history. With the use of the art of magic, illusion and misdirection many enemies have been defeated without taking the field of battle. Jonna will recount stories of deception as used by the Allies in the Battle of El Alamien and “D” Day. From Hollywood she learned how to manage the “stage” on the streets of Moscow, delivering “performances” that helped win the Cold War. She also gives examples of how the “stage” of battle could be better managed today in the war against terrorism.
Jonna served 27 years in the Office of Technical Service, the technical arm of the CIA’s operations directorate. She gives 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. She finishes with an in-depth review of operational disguise and identity transformations operations where she tells stories of some of her life and death operations designed to elude surveillance and move intelligence agents and officers clandestinely around the world.