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James Petrila


The past holds vital lessons which can continuously inform the present. This is particularly true of the lessons taught to us by the three day Battle of Gettysburg. Numerous program participants, from organizations large and small, have taken away invaluable insights into the nature of contemporary leadership and followership that come from walking the Battlefield. My goal is to leverage my experience in national security to encourage program participants to think more deeply about their own professional roles and responsibilities, and how they might apply the lessons of Gettysburg to enhance their own organizations.

Jim Petrila recently retired from the Central Intelligence Agency, where he practiced in the Office of General Counsel for 25 years. During his last several years at CIA, he was responsible for management and oversight of attorneys within CIA’s Operations Directorate. As a senior leader within CIA’s Office of General Counsel, he was an active participant in CIA’s Gettysburg Leadership Seminar. His legal background and experience in dealing with cutting edge legal issues and crisis management provide unique insights into transactional and transformational leadership issues. His real-world experience in working with senior lawyers in the Intelligence Community, together with frequent engagement with Congressional oversight committees on a variety of controversial issues, also give him a valuable perspective on organizational behaviors.

Additional Background

  • Regularly provided advice and counsel to senior Agency leaders on a broad variety of legal and policy issues
  • Served as a Deputy Legal Advisor to the National Security Council from 2013-2015
  • Holds a BA in Russian Studies from Knox College, an MA in Russian History from Stanford University, and a JD from the University of Virginia
  • Served as an adjunct law professor at the George Washington University School of Law
  • Lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Judy Stein


Our faculty is made up of instructors and guides, many of whom are licensed battlefield guides. Instructors and guides are chosen for each session based upon the identified goals of the group.

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