Former Chief of Staff to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Kevin Higgins is a former intelligence community senior executive who retired from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after 30 years of distinguished service.
After retiring, Kevin joined Silicon Valley start-up Zipline International Incorporated as Senior Vice President and General Manager for US Operations and Global Opportunities. With over 600,000 deliveries globally, Zipline operates autonomous, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to deliver blood and vaccines, prescription medications, and consumer products. Kevin oversees Zipline’s US-based operational platforms, but he also leverages his deep global experience and network to assist Zipline in identifying new foreign markets and evaluating risk to the company’s operations in several countries abroad. In 2022, Time Magazine recognized Zipline as one of the best inventions of the year, and in 2023 Zipline made CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list of innovative companies.
Prior to his retirement, Kevin served as Chief of Staff to CIA Director William J. Burns, where he assisted the Director with executing the Agency’s global intelligence mission and confronting our nation’s most intractable national security challenges and emerging threats. As a key member of CIA’s C-suite leadership team, Kevin provided counsel to the Director on a wide range of issues, from managing enterprise-level risk to establishing two new priority mission centers focused on China and Emerging Technologies. He advised on foreign and US private industry partnerships, influenced leadership succession planning with an eye towards diversity, and served on both CIA’s Corporate and Expanded Corporate Boards.
Kevin also served as the Assistant Director of CIA for Africa, leading a cross-functional intelligence center responsible for the African continent. His leadership of the Africa Mission Center reflected an entrepreneurial spirit that required creativity and competency in managing risk and navigating crises in ambiguous and complex-threat environments. Kevin has briefed and interacted with US Presidents, foreign heads of state, and senior leaders in the US Congress. His earlier assignments include Chief of Operations of CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, where he drove global efforts to prevent terrorist attacks at home and abroad. He also served as the Chief of Station in several countries and led an expeditionary base in Afghanistan. During his career at CIA, Kevin has led thousands of officers, managed multi-billion-dollar budgets; recruited and mentored talent; and incorporated a range of technologies to meet critical mission requirements. During his three decades of service, he has received several honors–including the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, CIA’s Excellence in Leadership Award, the George W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the CIA Director’s Award, the CIA Director’s Award for Distinguished Service, and is a three-time recipient of the most prestigious honor in federal civilian service, the Presidential Rank Award.
After leaving public service, Kevin founded KSTK Enterprises, LLC, which provides strategic advisory services to private and public companies on organizational leadership, venture capital investments, business development, geopolitical risk, and M&A of companies that intersect with national security. He sits on several advisory boards, including New North Ventures, Benchmark’s National Security and Cyber Experts, and Semantic AI. Kevin also serves as a board member of the Third Option Foundation. He is particularly drawn to opportunities to close the divide between private industry and the US national security domain, as America’s challenges ahead will require whole-of-nation solutions.
Married with two children, Kevin holds an MS in National Security Strategy from the National War College, and a BA in English Literature from Grambling State University where he played NCAA Division I tennis. He is proficient in French.