Chief Strategist & Head of DC Relations
Sonya L. Holt recently retired from the Central Intelligence Agency, serving as the Deputy Associate Director of CIA for Talent for Diversity and Inclusion (DADT/DI) and CIA’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO), leading the Diversity and Inclusion Office. As a veteran officer who served more than three decades at CIA, Sonya brought a wealth of experience and expertise to the Diversity and Inclusion Office. She is widely known for putting people first in order to accomplish the CIA's mission and has a proven track record as an inclusive leader and a champion for diversity. In this role, Sonya served as the senior advisor to the Director of CIA, a member of his leadership team, and had strategic oversight of all things DEIA at CIA.
In her previous role as the Lead for the Director’s Advisory Group (DAG) on Women in Leadership Implementation, a corporate initiative. The DAG was responsible for fully implementing 10 recommendations from the Director’s Advisory Group on Women in Leadership Final Report; a study led by Secretary Madeleine Albright. Ms. Holt conducted outreach briefings, led and managed the DAG staff, oversaw the initiatives and efforts implemented by the working groups and engaged with Agency Senior Leadership and key stakeholders. Through the DAG’s efforts there was an increase in women in leadership from 31 percent to 36 percent with staple deliveries to include a sponsorship toolkit, equity assurance training, and a host of panels and workshops.
Previously, Ms. Holt completed a one year Joint Duty Assignment at the Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSDI), Human Capital Management Office as the Chief of Staff. Ms. Holt provided support to the Director, HCMO and had oversight of the office and its daily activities. The staff consisted of senior officers who had policy oversight of NGA, DIA, NRO, NSA Security and DSS. She served as the Program Manager for the Director, Central Intelligence Agency’s External Advisory Board and managed relationships with key senior officials on his behalf. She was responsible for composing his quarterly meetings, setting the agenda, and pre-briefing the DCIA on events of the day.
She was the Chief, within the Talent Acquisition Office (TAO) where she led strategic direction and planning. She was responsible for the strategic vision and leadership of four unique programs: the Sourcing Unit, Student Programs, Advertising and Marketing Program, and the Regional Recruiter Program which encompassed the strategic planning and direction of the TAO’s diversity initiatives in relation to the Agency’s mission.
Ms. Holt has served in other various positions ranging from Program Management in the Directorate of Science and Technology; to Chief, Diversity Programs in the Talent Acquisition Office.
Ms. Holt obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Strayer University in 1998. She received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Martin University in May 2010. She is the first and only woman to serve as the Chair of the National Urban League's (NUL) Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP) Executive Advisory Council (EAC) in its 45 year history. She received the first ever BEEP Corporate Liaison Award in year 38, and was inducted in the BEEP Hall of Fame in 2012. And most recently received the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, which is the highest honor bestowed to retiring officers, and was named a Top DE&I Exec to Watch in 2022 by WashingtonExec.
Ms. Holt was employed at the Central Intelligence Agency for 38 years. She used the knowledge and skills that she has gained from both her technical and talent acquisition experiences to establish herself as an expert in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, Talent Acquisition, and Management. Ms. Holt acts as a mentor to junior officers promoting self-development and networking strategies.