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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson tapped as Senate sergeant-at-arms in wake of Capitol attack

Retired Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson. (Courtesy Office of the Director of National Intelligence/TNS)

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson will be the new Senate sergeant-at-arms, following three decades of active-duty military service, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Wednesday.

Gibson will take over the Senate’s SAA operation at a pivotal moment as lawmakers are calling for an overhaul of Capitol security and the Capitol Police Board in the wake of the violence on Jan. 6 that left many questions about preparedness and coordination of response.

Former Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger resigned following the attack on the Capitol, as did his House counterpart, Paul D. Irving, and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.

The sergeant-at-arms oversees a host of Senate functions from security to information technology services. The Senate-elected position is effectively appointed by the majority leader.

Gibson retired last year from a 33-year Army career, including in the office of the Director of National Intelligence as the deputy director of national intelligence for national security partnerships.

She is a combat veteran and has extensive experience in intelligence and cyber operations. Most recently, Gibson participated in the review of of the Jan. 6 attacks led by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore.

“Ms. Gibson will work to improve the Senate’s security profile to ensure a safe and secure working environment for Senators, press, visitors, Capitol employees, and Senate staff, including staffers of color,” said Schumer’s office in a statement.

Gibson is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2007 while preparing for a deployment to Baghdad.

In addition to Gibson, Schumer tapped Senate veteran Kelly Fado as deputy sergeant-at-arms and Jennifer Hemingway as chief of staff, marking the first time in the history of the SAA office that the leadership will be composed entirely of women.

“I am excited to announce the new and historic leadership team in the office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms,” Schumer said. “Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson, Kelly Fado and Jennifer Hemingway are all exceptionally qualified for this vital Senate office, which not only serves the institution but also the country. This will also be the first time in our nation’s long history that this office will be led by a team of women, and we know they will be successful in their tenure.”

Hemingway previously served as deputy SAA and ascended to be acting sergeant-at-arms on Jan. 7, after Stenger’s resignation. She previously served as director of House operations under former Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Fado has spent 25 years working in the Senate, including as director of operations for former Democratic leader Tom Daschle and as Democratic liaison to the SAA. Her job will include focusing on improving Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility to Senate buildings and services as well as initiatives on diversity and inclusion for the chamber.

Gibson, Fado and Hemingway will have a hand in shaping the Senate’s security posture as Congress and intelligence agencies continue to investigate the Jan. 6 attacks and plan for defenses against future threats.


(c) 2021 CQ Roll Call

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