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Dr. Mary Beth Janke, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, has released a new memoir, The Protector: A Woman’s Journey from the Secret Service to Guarding VIPs and Working in Some of the World’s Most Dangerous Places. This book, released now in e-book format, is based on her own experiences as a US Secret Service Agent. 

Janke book cover, The Protector

IN 2003, WHEN THE U.S. Embassy in Colombia needed a female protection agent who was fluent in Spanish, was a former federal law enforcement agent and had extensive international experience to co-lead a team protecting top Colombian officials including the president, they called Mary Beth Wilkas. At the time, Colombia was nicknamed “the kidnap capital of the world.”  Its government was in the throes of a bloody war with guerilla and terrorist groups. Three Americans had just been kidnapped and the State Department had issued an alarming Level 3 (Orange) Travel Advisory.

To Mary Beth, this was a dream job.

In her debut memoir, The Protector: A Woman’s Journey From the Secret Service to Guarding VIPs and Working in Some of the World’s Most Dangerous Places, Dr. Mary Beth Wilkas Janke—a former US Secret Service Agent who is now a forensic and clinical psychologist—recounts her extraordinary journey as one of a tiny minority of women (9%) in the Secret Service in the early 1990s, and one of the few female VIP protection agents. Females are so rare in this field, and one with Mary Beth’s skill set has earned her the moniker, “unicorn.”

Mary Beth was also the first and only female instructor in the history of the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program. Trained to observe astutely, fight in life-or-death circumstances, use weapons and execute high-speed maneuvers in vehicles, she has worked undercover, sized up foreign generals for trustworthiness, had a bounty placed on her head, and kept a watchful eye on drugged-up thugs on the streets of countries such as Haiti, Peru, and Colombia.  High-profile individuals she has protected include members of the Versace family, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the grandchildren of President George H. W. Bush.

In a relatable tone laced with humor and wit, The Protector delivers a satisfying, up-close and personal look at these events—as well as valuable insights into the level-headedness, self-confidence, and mental and physical toughness it took for Mary Beth to not only win at this game no one expected her to play—but to kick ass.  Not taken seriously because she’s a woman?  Mary Beth saw this as an invitation to excel.  Keeping up with men in a workout? An easy task for Mary Beth. Staving off an attack on an Ambassador?  “Never let them see you sweat” is her inspiring motto.

Due to the Coronavirus, the e-book version of the book has been released first (through Amazon).  The release of paperback and hardcover versions are delayed until Mary Beth is able do in-person events. She will be sure and let everyone know when that date becomes clear.


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