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News Release

U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service

Cassondra L. Woodward Searight, from Prospect, within the city of Pembroke, North Carolina, has been named the first fulltime permanent Diversity and Inclusion Officer in the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). She is a member of the Lumbee Tribe, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River.

Searight joined the Diplomatic Security Service after serving as a program manager at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service. She has worked in the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility space for more than 10 years, with experience in recruitment, outreach, public affairs, and civil rights.

“The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to ensuring that critical perspectives and talents are represented in the national security workforce, and we know, through experience and research, that diverse teams perform better,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Carlos Matus, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service. “It is vital that we attract new personnel from a diverse talent pool and create a workplace culture that cultivates that talent to help solve the complex issues facing Diplomatic Security Service and the Department.”

In her new role, Searight will develop and implement a Diplomatic Security Service-wide diversity and inclusion strategic plan, provide overall management to help achieve equitable opportunities for Diplomatic Security Service employees, track the full range of Diplomatic Security Service diversity and inclusion activities, and ensure coordination with the Diplomatic Security Service Council for Diversity and Inclusion and alignment with other groups within the State Department.

“My future plans include developing and delivering training courses for Diplomatic Security Service leadership and employees to build awareness of unconscious biases, as well as introduce tools and practices to support and advance the diversification of our workforce,” said Searight. “My ultimate goal is to bring forth recommendations to our leadership team to further our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.”

Searight is the granddaughter of Clem and Mary Mandy Clark (both deceased) of Prospect and daughter of James and Ruth Carol Woodward (both deceased). Earlier in her career, she served nearly a decade in the U.S. Navy, traveling throughout the world in multiple leadership roles.

Searight holds an MBA degree from George Mason University, an MA degree in public administration from Ashford University, and a BA degree in management from the University of Phoenix. She is the mother of three daughters. 

About the U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service

The Diplomatic Security Service is the U.S. Department of State’s law enforcement and security bureau. Diplomatic Security Service special agents, engineers, and other security professionals are responsible for the security of 275 diplomatic posts around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security Service personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate transnational crimes, and conduct personnel security investigations. For additional information about the Diplomatic Security Service, visit or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @StateDeptDSS.

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