The former Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart graduated from Bemidji State College in Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1978. She began her law enforcement career by attending the Baltimore Police Academy, after which Leonhart served as a patrol officer in the Northwest District of Baltimore.
Leonhart was appointed in 1997 as the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of DEA’s San Francisco Field Division, where she served until her appointment in September 1998 as the SAC of DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division. In that capacity, she commanded DEA offices and enforcement operations in the Los Angeles area, as well as Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and Saipan. Leonhart served as the deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration from March 2004 until administrator Karen Tandy resigned in October 2007.
Leonhart took over as acting administrator in November 2007, and was confirmed as permanent administrator on December 22, 2010 where she served until her retirement in May 2015.