Ocassa “Cassie” Thompson began her professional journey by earning a Bachelor of Science in history, with a minor in education, from Good Counsel College in White Plains, New York, in 1969. She went on to complete graduate coursework and then began her career with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Throughout her 33-year career with the CIA, she made a considerable impact as both a minority and a woman, and she is forever grateful to the colleagues and friends she worked with over the course of her career. Some of those colleagues and friends even became godparents to her children. Making a name for herself for her excellent management skills, Ms. Thompson is particularly proud of achieving the rank of Senior Intelligence Service officer and serving as the chief recruitment officer for the CIA’s director of operations, which was her favorite, and the most important, job she held during her tenure.
Now retired from government service, Ms. Thompson attributes much of her success to three individuals, her parents, George Williams and Ida C. Williams, and her late husband, Michael Thompson. Her parents instilled in her the value of contributing to the welfare of others and helping those in need and her husband was always there for her, standing by her side and supporting her in her endeavors right up to his passing. Above everything, she would advise young and aspiring professionals to be themselves. Don’t fake a persona because you think it will help you fit in better, you won’t be happy and will, in all likelihood, end up leaving the field. Ms. Thompson would further emphasize the importance of being sincere and truthful in both personal and professional matters.
For her excellence, Ms. Thompson has received a number of honors and accolades for her work with the CIA. One particular moment that stands out for her was her nomination for the Manager of the Year award. Having served in a variety of managerial positions at different levels within the CIA, her then secretary wrote a short essay nominating Ms. Thompson for the award, and she became one of only six individuals presented with the Manager of the Year recognition that year. She was also notably nominated for the CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. Alongside these accolades, Ms. Thompson always found great enjoyment in seeing the high level of professionalism displayed by her employees and their appreciation of her as a good manager.
Remaining active in her retirement, Ms. Thompson is involved in a wide range of community projects. She is the president of the board of directors for the Lancaster Community Library and also serves on the board of Rappahannock Community College. Furthermore, she has donated her time to providing hospice support through Lancaster County, Virginia, since 2017 and hopes to continue in that endeavor for the foreseeable future. In 2019, she became the chair of the Lancaster County Broadband Authority, an organization that seeks to provide communication services throughout Lancaster County, including the goal to ensure that all of the citizens within the county have access to affordable and reliable broadband internet.
Born in New York City, Ms. Thompson is the proud mother of two children, Corinne and Gareth, and grandmother to three grandchildren, Zoey, Kaylee and Morgan. In her free time, when she is not doing work for one of her many community projects, she enjoys knitting, reading and boating. Her hope is that she will be remembered by her colleagues and peers and leave a legacy as someone who embodies the quote, “My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night. But to all my foes and friends, it gives a lovely light.”