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Kathy Wirtanen
Administrative, Facility
& Conference Assistant

P:  (540) 464-7361
F: (540) 464-7396

Center for Leadership & Ethics
VMI, Marshall Hall
500 Anderson Drive
Lexington, VA  24450

Captain Susan J. Rabern, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Captain Susan J. RabernCaptain Rabern was appointed as the Director of the Virginia Military Institute Center for Leadership & Ethics on 4 February 2011.  Rabern was named the Center's Deputy Director in July 2009 and had served as its acting Director Since September 2009.  She assumed duty at the Center after three decades of distinguished government service, having retired from the United States Navy at the rank of Captain and then serving in the Federal Senior Executive Service in three cabinet agencies.  

Captain Rabern served in five positions of command in the U.S. and overseas.  She was Commanding Officer U.S. Naval Support Activity, Washington Navy Yard; Navy Element, Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. Navy Personnel Support Activity, Naples, Italy; and Transient Personnel Unit, San Diego, California.  She twice served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, producing manuscripts on the effects of organized crime and foreign assistance on the democratization of the former Soviet Union. 

In August 2000, after twenty-one years of Navy service, Captain Rabern was selected to serve as Assistant Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  She served in that capacity during the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, the attacks of 9/11, and the anthrax attacks on Washington, DC.  She later served as Assistant Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Customs Service, integrating the agency into the Department of Homeland Security, and then as the Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in the initial phase of the War in Iraq. 

While assigned to USAID, Captain Rabern was selected for a federal exchange assignment to obtain her doctoral credentials at the University of Virginia Darden School.  During the period of the assignment (2003 – 2007), she selected the Virginia Military Institute as her home base educational institution, where she served as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff and Superintendent.  While at VMI, she also taught courses in International Relations and Political Science.  

From 2007 through 2009, Captain Rabern resumed duty at USAID where she served as Deputy Director of the Office of Military Affairs, Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance. In that position, she was responsible for day-to-day strategic planning, organization, and management of the office, charged with formalizing the Agency’s relationship with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, U.S. and foreign militaries, and stability operations training for Army and Marine Corps units en route to Afghanistan. 

Captain Rabern holds Masters Degrees in Education, Business, and Strategic Studies and earned her PhD in Business Ethics & Entrepreneurship in 2009 at the University of Virginia Darden School.  She is married to David W. Rabern, Colonel, U.S. Air Force (retired) and is the mother of three daughters, Stacey Iobst, Allison Leigh-Perlman, and Megan Blunt.