President Biden on Wednesday nominated Stacey A. Dixon, an expert in intelligence technology, to serve as the nation’s No. 2 intelligence official.
The nomination of Dr. Dixon, the former head of the intelligence community’s advanced research project agency, to be the office’s principal deputy director reflects the Biden administration’s interest in making technological innovation in intelligence gathering a priority.
If the Senate confirms Dr. Dixon, who is currently the deputy director of the Defense Department’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, she will be the highest-ranking Black woman in the intelligence community and the first Black person to serve in one of its most senior posts. She has spoken in the past about the need for intelligence agencies to diversify their ranks.
“Dr. Dixon possesses a deep knowledge of the intelligence tradecraft and understands the critical work intelligence professionals perform every day,” said Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence.
The No. 2 post, called the principal deputy director, has been without a Senate-confirmed official since the Trump administration pushed Sue Gordon out of the job in August 2019.
Ms. Gordon described Dr. Dixon as “a really nice combination of an intelligence practitioner with deep technical skills.”
“This is a technical world, and she’s got the technical chops to deliver,” Ms. Gordon said.
Senior intelligence officials told Congress this year that new investments in technology and new research initiatives would be necessary for the United States to keep pace with China and improve intelligence collection there.
Dr. Dixon has long experience in research and development posts within intelligence agencies. She joined the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity in 2016, first as deputy director and then as director. Before that, she oversaw research and development for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Dr. Dixon, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, began her career at the C.I.A. and the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that oversees the nation’s spy satellites.
Persuading Congress to approve funding to research and develop new technology for the intelligence community is set to be a big political challenge. Dr. Dixon also has extensive experience in Congress, both as the Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s head of congressional affairs and as a budget director on the House Intelligence Committee from 2008 to 2010.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Dr. Dixon “did outstanding work” while working for the committee. “I hope she will be confirmed quickly,” he added.
Dr. Dixon has a long history of working to diversify the intelligence ranks, and Ms. Gordon said she was fiercely egalitarian in pursuing talent development.
“She delivers inclusive leadership based on ensuring equal access and equal opportunity,” Ms. Gordon said. “What I think she would say is you want to create a place where anyone with the drive and talent can succeed.”