A Conversation on Leadership with John O. Brennan, Adm. Bobby Inman, Julian Castro and Chancellor William McRaven

February 15, 2018  |  12:15PM - 1:45PM
Bass Lecture Hall - LBJ School of Public Affairs

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, the Intelligence Studies Project, Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law, and Clements Center for National Security hosted University Distinguished Scholar and former CIA Director John O. Brennan, Admiral Bobby Inman, Chancellor William McRaven and the Honorable Julian Castro for a panel discussion on leadership in the public sector. The panel was moderated by Dr. William Inboden, Executive Director of the Clements Center. For event photographs, click HERE. See below to view the video.


John O. Brennan is the Senior Advisor to the Intelligence Studies Project and a Distinguished Non-Resident Scholar at The University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Brennan was sworn in as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on March 8, 2013. As Director, he managed intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence and liaison relationships with foreign intelligence services. Prior to becoming Director, Mr. Brennan served at the White House for four years as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. During this time, he advised the President on counterterrorism strategy and helped coordinate the U.S. Government’s approach to homeland security, including its policies for responding to terrorism, cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and pandemics. Mr. Brennan began his service in government at the CIA, where he worked from 1980 to 2005. He spent most of his early career in the Agency’s main analytic arm, the Directorate of Analysis, specializing in the Near East and South Asia before directing counterterrorism in the early 1990s. In 1994 and 1995, he was the Agency’s intelligence briefer to President Bill Clinton. After an assignment as Chief of Station in the Middle East, Mr. Brennan served from 1999 to 2001 as Chief of Staff to George Tenet, who was then Director of Central Intelligence. Mr. Brennan next worked as Deputy Executive Director of the CIA until 2003, where he began leading a multi-agency effort to establish what would become the National Counterterrorism Center. In 2004, he became the Center’s Interim Director. Mr. Brennan graduated from Fordham University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. While enrolled at Fordham, he studied abroad at the American University in Cairo in 1975. He later attended The University of Texas at Austin, where in 1980 he earned a master’s degree in government with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies. 

Adm. William McRaven is the Chancellor of The University of Texas System. Prior to becoming chancellor in January 2015, McRaven was the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command during which time he led a force of 69,000 men and women and was responsible for conducting counter-terrorism operations worldwide. McRaven also is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders on defense issues. His book, “Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice,” published in several languages, is considered a fundamental text on special operations strategy. McRaven has been recognized for his leadership numerous times by national and international publications and organizations. In 2011, he was the first runner-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year and was named Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named McRaven one of the nation’s Top 10 Foreign Policy Experts and one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2014, Politico magazine named McRaven one of the Politico 50, citing his leadership as instrumental in cutting through Washington bureaucracy. He has also received the Republic of France’s region d’Honneur, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association’s National Award and the National Intelligence Award. Most recently, in 2015, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum selected McRaven to receive the Intrepid Freedom Award for his distinguished service in promoting and defending the values of democracy. Also in 2015, he was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the FBI Agents Association. In 2016, McRaven was named the recipient of the Ambassador Richard M. Helms Award by the Central Intelligence Agency Officers Memorial Foundation. 

Julian Castro is the Dean’s Distinguished Fellow and Fellow of the Davila Chair in International Trade Policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Previously, he served as the 16th U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017 and mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. Castro, a native Texan, born and raised in San Antonio, launched his public service career in 2001, becoming San Antonio’s youngest councilman. He was elected to mayor in 2009 and re-elected in both 2011 and 2013. During his tenure as mayor, Castro focused on attracting well-pang jobs in 21st century industries and expanding education opportunities across the city. Castro launched into the national arena with his keynote address – the first by a Latino – at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In 2014, Castro accepted President Barack Obama’s offer of the position of U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and upon confirmation, served in that role until 2017.

Admiral (Ret.) Bobby R. Inman became an adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Austin in 1987. He was appointed a tenured professor holding the Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in National Policy in August 2001. He served as interim dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 2005 and again from January 2009 to March 2010. Adm. Inman served in the U.S. Navy from November 1951 to July 1982, retiring with the permanent rank of admiral. On active duty he served as Director of the National Security Agency and as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. He is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.