Klon Kitchen '99
|Favorite Course||Christian Theology with Dr. Gary Phillips|
|Favorite Professor||Dr. Raymond "The Captain" Legg|
Klon and Tracy returned to campus on 09.09.11, and Klon spoke on "Remembering 9/11" in Chapel »
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A year after graduating from Bryan College, Klon Kitchen decided he wanted to be an FBI agent. Klon had been a Biblical Studies major who married his Bryan sweetheart, Tracy Schultz. They got married a month after graduation and moved to Columbus, Ga., where Klon began teaching at Calvary Christian High School. He stayed busy writing and teaching the Bible curriculum, coaching the volleyball team, and was even nominated for Georgia’s teacher of the year.
As the 2000 presidential election drew near, Klon began evaluating which issues were most important to him, and he developed an interest in national security. “As a Biblical Studies major, I was especially interested in terrorism because of the religious component,” Klon explained. “At Bryan, I was trained to think well and I thought becoming an FBI agent would be a good way to transition my Bryan degree into a career.”
To make this dream come true, Klon and Tracy sold most of their belongings and moved to Washington, D.C., so Klon could begin working on a Master’s degree. “Neither of us had jobs. Eventually we both started waiting tables at a restaurant in Alexandria,” Klon said. But before Klon could begin his graduate program, he met a man on the campus of George Washington University who offered him a job. “It was an entry level position as an analyst/editor for Military Periscope,” Klon explained. Military Periscope describes itself as the “defense industry's premier online database for accurate open-source global defense information” which offers “timely in-depth coverage of orders of battle, equipment inventories, plans and programs for more than 165 nations.”
Klon with his wife and Bryan Sweetheart, Tracy
He was recruited shortly after 9/11 to join a new taskforce within the Department of Defense, eventually becoming the lead for Al-Qaeda senior leadership. In this capacity he traveled extensively through Central Asia and Afghanistan to support counterterrorism efforts. “I was trained to be a subject matter expert,” Klon explained. His role was to bridge the gap between the analytic and operational sides of national defense. He and a small group were trained to be “operationally relevant” and were frequently sent to assist in special operations.
Meanwhile, back in DC, Tracy was working as an event planner for a top catering firm in the city. In February 2005, the Kitchens welcomed their first daughter, Ava, and decided it was time to settle down. Klon left the Department of Defense and spent the next two years in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, providing programmatic oversight to the nation’s counterproliferation and special intelligence programs. From there he joined the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The NCTC was created by law in 2004 and “implements a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission: “Breaking the older mold of national government organizations, this NCTC should be a center for joint operational planning and joint intelligence, staffed by personnel from the various agencies.”
In 2007, Klon recruited and led a team called the Extremist Messages & Influence Group. “I worked with some really brilliant people and our role was to create government strategies for the so called, ‘war of ideas.’ We looked beyond national defense and examined economic, political, and religious issues. We wanted to help the government think well,” Klon explained. His position required him to work intimately with the White House, including regular visits and offering strategic communications advice and research, including working on speeches as recent as President Obama’s April address in Turkey and June address in Cairo.
Klon’s career, although very different from what he originally planned, frequently feels “surreal,” like the first time he was escorted into the Situation Room. “The Lord sometimes just raises people up even when, like me, we feel completely insufficient,” Klon said.
Klon with his three beautiful children: Ava, Ethan, Olivia
Along with helping the United States confront the global challenge of terrorism, Klon faithfully attends Capitol Baptist Church where he and his family have been members for the past seven years. He leads a married couples Bible Study and is a regular Sunday school teacher. Klon and Tracy also have two more children: Ethan, 2, and Olivia, nine months. In June 2009, Klon became an International Counter-terrorism Fellow at the National Defense University where he will remain for the next year.
Looking back over the decade since he graduated, Klon said he feels the most important thing Bryan did for him was to teach him to think about “how everything is saturated by a Biblical worldview. Bryan taught me how to think logically, rationally, and Biblically. My Biblical perspective gives me the framework to understand rightness and wrongness, which also ensures an eternal perspective. I work diligently but not without hope because, ultimately, I serve a Sovereign God.”
Advice for New Graduates from Klon
- Actively seek out other people in the career field you may be interested in.
- Assess where your skills and experiences match up and be able to articulate where you fit.
- “In my first job interview with Periscope I was asked, ‘You’re a Bible major; how do you fit?” and my answer to that got me the job. Be honest in your evaluation of where you might fit within an organization, identify gaps, and look for creative opportunities to fill those gaps.”
- Read books. Educate yourself to be a well-rounded person. You never know when something you read about might come in handy in a conversation or while waiting at the airport or in a business meeting.
- Wherever you are, be all there (Jim Elliot)
- Resist the temptation to fret “Don’t sit around waiting for a divine voicemail from God. My prayer is always that God will give me the wisdom to make good decisions in accordance with His will
- Eventually it’s time to stop preparing and ACT. “It’s important to act and take those steps of faith.”