Principal Officers

Katherine Hibbs Pherson, Chief Executive Officer of Pherson Associates, teaches advanced analytic techniques and critical thinking skills to analysts in the Intelligence Community, homeland security community, and the private sector. She is also a consultant to the government on planning, security, and analysis projects. Katherine H. Pherson  co-authored with Randolph H. Pherson, Critical Thinking for Strategic Intelligence, published in October 2012. Ms. Pherson completed a 27-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency in intelligence and security analysis and resource management in 2000. Her leadership in the security arena led to the adoption of a risk management methodology, the strengthening and the implementation of overseas security countermeasures, and improvements in dealing with unsolicited contacts. As Director of the Director of Central Intelligence’s (DCI) Center for Security Evaluation she managed the Intelligence Community’s involvement in rebuilding the penetrated U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Ms. Pherson received her A.B. in Hispanic Studies from Vassar College, an M.A. in Spanish Linguistics and Latin American Studies from the University of Illinois, and an M.A. in Communications from the University of Oklahoma. She is a recipient of the CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal and the Intelligence Community’s National Distinguished Service Medal.

Randolph H. Pherson
, President of Pherson Associates, teaches critical thinking and advanced analytic techniques to analysts throughout the Intelligence Community and the private sector. He co-authored with Richards J. Heuer, Jr. Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis and a second book, Cases in Intelligence Analysis: Structured Analytic Techniques in Action with Sarah Miller Beebe that was published in December 2011.  His third book, Critical Thinking for Strategic Intelligence, co-authored with Katherine H. Pherson, was published in October 2012. Mr. Pherson collaborated with Richards J. Heuer, Jr., in launching the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses software tool and has developed three other simple but elegant software tools for intelligence analysts. Mr. Pherson completed a 28-year career in the Intelligence Community in 2000, last serving as National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Latin America. Previously, at the CIA, Mr. Pherson managed the production of intelligence analysis on topics ranging from global instability to Latin America, served on the Inspector General’s staff, and developed and implemented a strategic planning process for the CIA as Chief, Strategic Planning and Management Staff under the Deputy Director for Planning and Coordination (ExDir). Mr. Pherson is the recipient of both the Distinguished Intelligence Medal for his service as NIO for Latin America and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. Mr. Pherson received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University.

Jeffrey Friedman
, Chief Operating Officer, is responsible for providing overall direction and guidance regarding the operations of Pherson Associates and its affiliate companies. Mr. Friedman brings a wealth of expertise in this role having helped various companies grow, develop, and expand into new areas. Mr. Friedman is skilled in fund formation, fundraising, venture investing, and complex negotiations.  He is experienced in turnarounds, investment transactions, exits to public and private companies, corporate governance, business development, corporate finance, capital and operating budgets, and mergers and acquisitions.  Most recently he spent 10 years with Monumental Venture Partners where he was one of the founding partners and managing director. In addition, he spent 10 years with MCI Communications in various financial management roles. Mr. Friedman earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA in Finance from The George Washington University.  He has also completed executive education programs in mergers and acquisitions as well as negotiations at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Mary O’Sullivan
 is Dean of the Forum and responsible for curriculum development and instruction at the state-of-the-art classroom and conference facility in Reston, VA.  She completed her 28-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency as a Senior Executive responsible for production and review of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), the creation of the Agency’s first on-line daily intelligence publication, and the establishment of field-based analytic units.  Ms. O’Sullivan was the first Chancellor of CIA University, a position in which she established standards for training design and development, reinstituted professional certification requirements for all instructors, and obtained new resources for language and leadership training.   She has extensive experience in operational budgeting and strategic planning as well as human resource development.  Ms. O’Sullivan was tapped by the Deputy Director of Intelligence to design training and experiential development paths for each analytic field in the Directorate of Intelligence and was the first strategic resource planner in the Office of the Comptroller.  She began her career as a leadership analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence and was loaned to the Department of Defense to assist in the preparation for various high-level visits and policy meetings.  Ms. O’Sullivan is the recipient of both the Distinguished Intelligence Medal for her service as Chancellor of CIA University and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. She received her B.A. from Western Kentucky University and her M.A. in History from the University of Kansas.  She also has a Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the Defense Language Institute.

Ellen Kane 
serves as a senior consultant, instructor, and program manager at Pherson Associates. During her 32-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency and the Intelligence Community she worked as an analyst, manager of analysis, strategic planner, and resource manager. She served for four years as CIA’s Deputy Comptroller; managed strategic planning, programming, and budgeting; developed and drafted two DCI strategic plans; managed program analysis and requirements evaluation for collection systems; supported the development and deployment of advanced collection systems; conducted intelligence, counterintelligence, and deception analysis; drafted National Intelligence Estimates as well as the damage assessments on the Ames and Hanssen spy cases; and served 12 years in Intelligence Community organizations.  She received a B.A. in Political Science from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A., M.A.L.D, and Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.



Ray Converse analyzed European and Soviet affairs during his 35 year career at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where he served as an analyst, manager, and faculty member of the Sherman Kent School of Intelligence Analysis. At the Kent School, Mr. Converse was well known for his facilitation and teaching skills, for developing innovative curricula, and mentoring a diverse body of students in the Career Analyst Program. He was a senior analyst on the Director’s Review Group to study the government’s response to terrorism in support of the 9/11 Commission and ongoing Congressional reviews. At the CIA, Mr. Converse managed units responsible for Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, South Asia, and the Soviet Union and its successor states during multiple crises, supervising analysis written routinely for the President and senior officials. He frequently prepared the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) for high-level meetings and attended as their substantive adviser. During three years at the Department of Commerce, Mr. Converse managed new programs for the “Support of East European Democracies Act” and regularly represented Commerce to the public and business community. Early in his career, he worked on the Soviet economy, its industries, and defense economics. Mr. Converse is a professional film and stage actor and has used improvisation and role play to support the training of numerous government and corporate clients. He has written and co-produced a screenplay for instructional purposes. Mr. Converse, an economist, received a B.A. with Honors from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. from the University of Michigan, and participated in MIT’s prestigious year-long Seminar XXI.

Kathryn Haahr-Escolano has substantive expertise in the fields of analytical tradecraft tools and techniques, national security, strategic communications, and open source/social media content exploitation and dissemination.  She served over 15 years at the CIA working on an assortment of substantive policy issues in support of US policymakers on various policy challenges including Iran.   During her years as a public policy consultant in the private sector, she supported several US intelligence and military organizations as well as an energy company and a small think tank, providing substantive expertise in the areas of energy security and the intersection of transnational issues with public opinion assessments.  Ms. Haahr-Escolano has created and institutionalized a variety of risk frameworks to assess life-cycle threats to client critical operations and created strategies to help them mitigate against identified threats.  She is bilingual in Spanish and English, and has working knowledge of French, Italian, Catalan, and Portuguese. She received a BA in International Studies and Spanish Literature from Mary Washington University and a MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies focusing on the political economies of the Middle East and Europe.

Warren H. Fishbein, Ph.D. is a co-developer and leader of a major US Intelligence Community initiative—the Global Futures Forum—to enhance unclassified multinational analytic collaboration and outreach on transnational security issues. He is the recognized thought leader on strategic foresight and alternative analysis, and catalyst of an emerging US government foresight community. Dr. Fishbein is an experienced designer of forums, interactive workshops, and scenario exercises on substantive and strategic management issues. He is a respected analyst of global and geopolitical issues with broad outreach networks in academia and the private sector.  Dr. Fishbein received a B.A in Political Science from City College of the City University of New York, New York, a Ph.D. in Political Science from MIT in Boston, Massachusetts and a Certification in Scenario Planning Practice from the Global Business Network.

Eileen H. Hurley has extensive experience in intelligence collection, analysis, and production with a concentration on intelligence applications for law enforcement.  She is an expert in the nexus between national security intelligence and law enforcement intelligence and operations.  Ms. Hurley held responsible positions in counterintelligence, anti-smuggling and drug trafficking intelligence, strategic trade and arms control, commercial fraud, counter-terrorism, organized crime, illegal immigration and human smuggling, with a broad range of premier US Government organizations, including the CIA, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).  Ms. Hurley earned a B.A. in History from St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and M.B.A. and M.S. in Internal Audit from Marymount University.

William R. Johnson 
teaches techniques for briefing and writing for senior policy makers to analysts in the Intelligence Community. In 2010, Mr. Johnson completed a 29-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, serving as an all-source collections manager, manager of a program that was a critical element of the US Government’s watch-listing enterprise, editor of current intelligence publications, intelligence briefer to senior policy makers in the aftermath of 9/11, and as a senior instructor in CIA’s Leadership Academy. Mr. Johnson is a Vietnam combat veteran. He received the Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Mr. Johnson received a B.A in English and Theology from La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an M.MS. in Medieval Studies from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, an M.A in Medieval History from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and an M.L.S in Library Science from SUNY, Buffalo, New York.

Gershon R. Kieval, Ph.D.,
 instructor, mentor, analyst and program manager, served for more than 30 years at the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst, briefer, editor, and manager. He provided intelligence support to senior officials in the Intelligence Community, on the National Security Staff, and in the Department of Defense. Dr. Kieval held rising leadership positions culminating at the Group Chief level and has experience working with all levels of analysts, managers, policymakers, and military personnel.  He also taught at George Washington University and has extensive experience developing and teaching courses on international relations and Middle East studies. Dr. Kieval received a Ph.D. and M.A in Political Science from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and a B.A in Government from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Martha Kessler
 consults on the Middle East and foreign intelligence issues, and teaches analytic techniques, writing, and briefing to Intelligence Community analysts. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the board of the Middle East Policy Council. Ms. Kessler was an intelligence officer with the CIA from 1970 until her retirement in 2000. During her career, she held analytic and management positions in the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and on the National Intelligence Council focusing on the Middle East and South Asia. She served as National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for the Near East and South Asia and authored numerous National Intelligence Estimates on Middle East issues. For six years, she headed the Directorate’s efforts on the Arab-Israeli area and was liaison with US peace negotiators throughout the Madrid process. Ms. Kessler was appointed to the National War College in 1985 where she authored a book on Syria. She was also a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution where she contributed to the Middle East Policy Journal. Ms. Kessler was awarded the National Intelligence Community’s Medal of Achievement, the CIA’s Medal of Career Achievement, and various outstanding performance awards. Ms. Kessler received a B.A. in Political Science and History from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and a M.A. in Middle East Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Laura Lenz
  serves as an instructor and curriculum developer  providing skilled instruction in analysis for a variety of customers.  For the past seven years, she has taught advanced critical thinking, structured analytic techniques, and critical writing skills to analysts in the Intelligence Community (IC), the Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Communities, and the private sector.  Prior to joining Pherson Associates, Ms. Lenz spent several years as an FBI intelligence analyst, where she analyzed and wrote tactical and strategic intelligence regarding terrorist activities in the United States.  She also developed and conducted training and conferences for FBI personnel and foreign partners on terrorism issues.  Additionally, Ms. Lenz served as team leader at R2 Resources, where she guided two law enforcement agencies as they developed their first five-year plan for counterterrorism analysis, and as adjunct professor of Political Science at Northern Virginia Community College.  She received her B.A. from Regis University and her M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University.

Pamela J. Noe
 teaches advanced analytic techniques to Intelligence Community analysts and operators. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University and consults to a variety of Intelligence Community organizations. She retired from the CIA in 2005 after 12 years as a team leader in the Director of Central Intelligence Nonproliferation Center, a CIA Officer in Residence at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and an educator in the Sherman Kent School of Intelligence Analysis. During a 14-year career in the Foreign Service, she served in the U.S. Embassy in London, the U.S. Mission to the UN, the International Trade Office of the Department of Commerce in Houston, Texas, and the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru. Ms. Noe has also worked for NBC-TV News and United Press International. She holds a B.A. from Russell Sage College, an M.S. in Education from the College of New Rochelle, and an Executive M.B.A. in Management from The George Washington University.

Susan R. Oliver
 evaluates finished intelligence products for adherence to analytic tradecraft methodologies, use of best practices, and analytic rigor.  Ms. Oliver completed a 23-year career in the Intelligence Community in 2010, where she served as a senior member of several US delegations to multi-national arms control negotiations.  Previously at the CIA, Ms. Oliver served as the Senior Intelligence Representative to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) protocol negotiations, the Standing Consultative Commission (ABM Treaty), and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.  She was Managing Editor of the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief and also managed a team of reports officers.  Ms. Oliver served in the Office of Congressional Affairs and as the Science and Technology Representative of the Directorate of Intelligence, a liaison position to an Allied government.  Ms. Oliver received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Alabama.

Janice Robinson
 consults for public and private entities and teaches analytical techniques, critical thinking and effective writing skills.  She retired from the CIA as Associate Deputy Director for Administration.  In addition to her last position, her 26-year career covered a range of assignments as an analyst, director of one of the largest analytical units focusing on transnational issues, and Director of Training and Education.  Ms. Robinson also was seconded to the State Department where she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade focusing on, among other things, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations.  For this she was awarded the State Department’s Superior Honor Award.  She was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. She received her B.A. in Economics from Virginia State University, and her M.A. in International Economics from American University, Washington, DC.. She also holds a certificate from the Senior Officials in National Security program at the John F. Kennedy School, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Eileen Roach Smith
 teaches writing and briefing techniques to Intelligence Community analysts. She is a mentor for the Intelligence Community’s Senior Leadership Program and has developed a case study for use with the FBI’s analyst training program. Ms. Smith has over 34 years experience in the Intelligence Community, including assignments at the National Security Agency, National Security Council, and the Intelligence Community Staff. At the CIA, she worked in the Inspector General’s Staff, Office of Personnel, and Office of Public Affairs. As Chief of the CIA’s Language Training Division, she developed a learning strategies counseling program and a quality assurance program for teaching and testing. She was a senior manager in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) and spearheaded changes to increase production and retrain the workforce. Ms. Smith was awarded the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal, an Intelligence Community Certificate of Distinction, and one of Vice President Gore’s “Hammer” awards. She received her B.A. from Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.


Program Support

Dr. Mary C. Boardman, Methodologist specializes in methodology design and implementation, along with research methods. She has published articles in peer-reviewed journals including Small Business Economics, Public Administration Review, and World Health and Medical Policy. Her methodological expertise includes agent-based modeling, econometrics/statistics, game theory (computational, evolutionary, and behavioral), structured analytic techniques, testing design, case studies, historical research, field research/human subjects/ ethnography, evidence-based science policy, and biographical research. Dr. Boardman holds a Ph.D in Public Policy from the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University. She also holds an MPP from Pepperdine University, focusing on International Relations and Economics, and a BBA in International Business from the University of Oklahoma.

Jennifer Brown is a senior Human Resources (HR) professional with over 20 years of experience gained through working with various companies in diverse industries. Ms. Brown has extensive experience in HR function turn-around situations, HR strategy and organizational development, recruiting and hiring, performance management, training and development, compensation and benefits, and employee relations. She has a B.S. in Business with a concentration in Personnel/Labor Relations and an MBA with a concentration in HR and Organizational Development from the University of Maryland.

Diana Pittman, PMP is responsible for providing overall project management support for Pherson projects, developing a Program Management Office for the company, and supporting government and commercial operations.  Ms. Pittman earned her B.S. in Education from West Chester University and has taken courses pursuant to a M.S. in Computer Science at Villanova University and Hood College.



Alan R. Schwartz
 has had a distinguished career providing legal and strategic advice to the U.S. Government and the private sector. He teaches advanced analytic tools and techniques to analysts in the Intelligence Community and military organizations. Mr. Schwartz designs and facilitates analytic workshops for numerous companies and organizations, as well as the Intelligence Community, on subjects ranging from Iraq stability to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Mr. Schwartz served two terms as a member of the Army Science Board, chaired its Force Protection Interface Panel, and has served on a number of Department of Defense Science Board and Business Board studies. He is Principal Officer and co-founder of PolicyFutures LLC. He previously served as Counsel to the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute.  Mr. Schwartz received his LL.M. in Administrative Law from the Georgetown University Law Center and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Walter Voskian designs and conducts analytic tradecraft workshops for analysts in the Intelligence Community and evaluates production and analytic techniques for Intelligence Community organizations. He has taught courses on analytic writing, thinking, and presentation as well as writing for the president, reviewing analytic papers, and intelligence briefing. Voskian retired from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence in 1997 after a 32-year career as an analyst, editor, and manager. He spent most of his career working on the Third World, with a concentration on Africa that included a five-year tour as Chief of the DI’s Africa Division. He also served as a senior member and as acting chief of the DI’s Product Evaluation Staff. Voskian served as a CIA representative to the United Kingdom’s Intelligence Community in London. He completed his CIA career with a three-year tour as Chief of the Customer Services Division in the DI’s Office of Information Resources. He is a recipient of the CIA’s Career Intelligence Medal. Mr. Voskian holds a B.A. and an M.A. in History.