“Your voice matters. Be okay with being wrong and be okay with making mistakes. Use your voice.”
This was one of many inspiring pieces of advice our 2023-2024 Polly Wheeler Guth ‘44 Leader in Residence Evy Poumpouras shared during her time at Chatham Hall on Nov. 8 & 9.
Poumpouras’ keynote address to the School community explored the importance of strength, leadership, and communication, and how to use all three to advance in the world. In addition to sharing the skills she developed and used as a U.S. Secret Service agent, she provided students with tactics to be better communicators and speak with confidence, including making eye contact, building trust, using body language, actively listening, and practicing communication etiquette.
“I want you to take up space. It sends the message that you deserve to be here. Don’t make yourself small,” she said. “If you want to have good communication with people and have confidence, you show them, you don't tell them.”
Before the keynote address in the Van Voorhis Lecture Hall, Poumpouras’ eagerly awaited arrival was followed by lunch with members of the Honor Council, classes visits, and an interview with staff members of the School newspaper, Columns.
Students also had the opportunity to join a study group to learn more about the incoming leader and share their findings with the School community at Assembly. They were then able to meet with her in their small groups to pick her brain on a more personal level.
Before departing, Poumpouras held a final Q&A during which students asked additional questions or reflected on what they absorbed during her 24 hours in Chatham.
“I thought she was one of the most insightful people I’ve ever met. She taught me a lot about not thinking so hard about goals and just doing them,” said Olivia Kauffman ‘24 who was a member of the career study group and introduced Poumpouras ahead of her keynote address. “It was pretty much a life-changing experience for her, with all her accomplishments, to tell me that I can do it. That was on another level, just so helpful to me.”
Poumpouras served as a special agent of the U.S. Secret Service for 12 years, during which she was part of the protective details for three presidents. She also worked on complex criminal investigations and undercover operations, executed search and arrest warrants, investigated both violent and financial crimes, and served as an interrogator for the agency’s elite polygraph unit. She now serves as a multimedia journalist who often covers national security, law enforcement, and crime on NBC, MSNBC, “The Today Show,” and “Good Morning America.” Poumpouras is currently the co-host of Bravo TV’s competition series “Spy Games” and was also cast on HLN’s “Dr. Drew On Call” and CBS’s “The Hunted,” among others. She also serves as an adjunct professor for the City University of New York where she teaches criminal justice and criminology. In 2020, she penned the best-selling book Becoming Bulletproof: Protect Yourself, Read People, Influence Situations, Live Fearlessly.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the endowed Guth Leader in Residence program. Poumpouras joins the prestigious ranks of former leaders
, including the WNBA’s Lisa Leslie, former president of Sri Lanka Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, primatologist Jane Goodall, professional tennis player Venus Williams, author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani, and feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem, among many others.