Person of Interest: Michele Rigby Assad

Michele Rigby Assad. // Photo: Douglas Tyler

Former undercover officer for the CIA.

Vital Stats

  • Childhood hometowns: Mount Plymouth, Mount Dora.
  • Graduated from Tavares High School.
  • Current hometown: Brevard County.
  • Occupation: Author, inspirational speaker, international security consultant.

What I hope readers glean from “Secret Cover,” my tell-all memoir of my secret life as a spy in the CIA: We are all capable of so much more than we think.

Greatest career accomplishment: Protecting our country and its interests from terror attacks at home and abroad.

Best advice I ever received: Winning is a state of mind. Never stop trying, working, believing and fighting to be a winner. 

Describe being part of the rescue mission to relocate internally displaced Iraqis to Slovakia, which was featured on ABC’s “20/20”: We went through an enormous range of emotions: deep sadness and empathy for the people we were dealing with who had lost everything; fear that we might not find a country willing to take them in; determination to try as hard as we could; hope that something would come through; shock and complete joy to see miracle after miracle unfold before our eyes; and massive gratitude to God for the ability to help some of them establish new lives in Europe.

My message to audiences: Don’t let fear, doubt, intimidation or uncertainty keep you from living a life of adventure and positively influencing the world around you.

What I hear most at speaking engagements: “You’ve inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and have more confidence!”

Memories of growing up in Lake County: Climbing trees, roller skating and playing dodgeball with neighborhood kids. Lake County was an awesome place to grow up. 

The challenge of leading a double life: You could never let your hair down or relax. We were always on our toes and looking for hostile surveillants who might be trying to target us.