Robert M. Gates, who will present "A Diplomat's Guide to the New Middle East" for donors at Federation's March 15 Main Event, is accustomed to setting precedents. When he accepted the invitation of President Barack Obama to continue in his position as secretary of defense, a role he served in the previous administration, he became the first such official to do so. And when President George Herbert Walker Bush appointed Gates CIA director in 1991, he became both the youngest and the only individual in the history of the CIA to rise through the ranks of the agency from entry-level employee to director.
Gates' five-year term as secretary of defense was fraught with global conflicts. He oversaw the surge in the Iraq War and the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. During his tenure, he traveled around the world, visiting U.S. military forces and meeting with defense counterparts in allied and partner nations.
His career as an intelligence professional spans nearly 27 years. While earning a master's degree from Indiana University in 1966, he was recruited by the CIA. He joined the agency full time as a Soviet analyst after a two-year stint in the Air Force. Gates later received a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in Washington.
He has served in high-ranking positions in six presidential administrations. Gates served as a member of the National Security Council staff during the Gerald Ford administration. During the Carter years, he served as special assistant to the president's National Security Advisor in the White House for almost three years and then became executive assistant to the director of Central Intelligence. He was the deputy director of intelligence for President Ronald Regan and in 2006 was named secretary of defense by President George W. Bush.
Gates may well be the most-decorated intelligence officer in United States history. On his last day in office as secretary of defense, President Obama awarded Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, during ceremonies at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. He has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and has received both the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA's highest award, on three separate occasions.
Next month, Gates will become chancellor of the College of William & Mary, where he graduated in 1965. He will succeed former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. This is not his first stint in academia. He served as president of Texas A & M University before assuming his defense appointment.
Gates plans to document his experiences as secretary of defense under both Presidents Bush and Obama. Already the critically acclaimed author of From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, which was published in 1996, he has recently signed a two-book deal with Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
"I will share insights gleaned from my experience" working in two administrations "of very different political stripes. I also want to write about the military I was privileged to lead," he said. The first book, a memoir, is targeted for a 2013 release. The second book, which will discuss his philosophy on leadership, is scheduled for 2014.
Invitations for the March 15 evening with Robert M. Gates at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue will be in the mail shortly. Event co-chairs Robin Batoff, Kimberly and Wayne Kimmel, Mary and Nathan Relles, and Renée and David Sackey describe the event as the "premiere event on the 2012 Federation Annual Campaign calendar."
Gates will mix and mingle with guests at two separate dinners. At the Leadership Gifts Dinner, he will greet members of Federation's Legacy Society and those who make gifts of $10,000 per household to Federation's 2012 campaign. He also will chat with guests at the Ben-Gurion Society Dinner, open to young men and women, ages 25 to 45, who make minimum individual campaign gifts of $1,000. Both dinners begin at 5:30 p.m.
All community members who make a minimum gift of $500 to the annual campaign and all Legacy Society members may attend the Major Gifts Dessert Reception at 7:00 p.m.
This reception will feature the presentation of Federation's inaugural Community Leadership Award to Leonard Barrack, Federation's immediate past president. Gates' keynote address will begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. Blank Rome, LLP is a sponsor of this event.