Ocassa “Cassie” Thompson began her professional journey by earning a Bachelor of Arts in history, with a minor in education, from Good Counsel College in White Plains, New York, in 1969. She went on to do graduate coursework and then began her junior high and high school teaching career on Long Island, New York. After nearly three years of teaching, which she thoroughly enjoyed, she followed her other interest, that of government service.
Mrs. Thompson began her career with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1974. 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, Mrs. Thompson is particularly proud of achieving the rank of Senior Intelligence Service officer and serving as the chief of recruitment for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, which was her favorite, and the most important job she held during her tenure.
Now retired from government service, Mrs. Thompson attributes much of her success to four individuals: her late parents, George and Ida C. Williams; her sister, Vanessa Williams, who she considers her best friend; 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. Her sister is always willing to listen and give advice. Her husband of 38 years, the love of her life, was always there for her, standing by her side and supporting her in her endeavors right up to his passing in December 2021.
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, likely, end up leaving the field.” Mrs. Thompson would further emphasize the importance of being sincere and truthful in both personal and professional matters.
For her excellence, Mrs. Thompson has received several honors and accolades for her work with the CIA. One moment that stands out for her was her nomination for the Manager of the Year award in the Directorate of Operations. Having served in a variety of managerial positions at different levels within the CIA, her then secretary wrote a short essay nominating Mrs. Thompson for the award, and she became one of only six individuals in the Directorate of Operations presented with the Manager of the Year recognition that year. Upon her retirement, she was awarded the CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. Alongside these accolades, Mrs. 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, Mrs. Thompson is involved in a wide range of community projects. She served on the board of directors for the Lancaster County Community Library for four years and as president of the board for the last two years of her tenure. Mrs. Thompson also served on the board of the Lancaster/Northumberland Interfaith Service Council. She serves on the board of Rappahannock Community College, and has donated her time to providing hospice support through Lancaster County, Virginia, since 2014.
In 2018, Mrs. Thompson became the chair of the Lancaster County Broadband Authority, an organization that seeks to ensure that all citizens within the county have access to affordable and reliable broadband. She is also involved with the Bay Bash Foundation, a nonprofit organization which strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people. Its aim is to provide a platform where special needs members of the community may feel joy, inclusiveness and develop confidence and fulfillment in life.
Born in New York City, Mrs. Thompson is the proud mother of two children, Corinne and Gareth, and grandmother, “nana,” to three granddaughters, Zoey, Kaylee and Morgan. She also cherishes her husband’s three children, Heidi, Karl and Alastair. In her free time, when she is not doing work for one of her many community projects, she enjoys reading, fishing and knitting. In addition to her family, she hopes she will be remembered by her friends and colleagues 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 all my friends, it gives a lovely light.”