Michele Leonhart is the current administrator of the DEA. She as served in this role since 2010. She graduated from Bemidji State University in 1978 and joined law enforcement as a Baltimore Patrol Officer.
In 1980 she joined the DEA as a special agent and in 1997 she became the DEA's first female special agent in charge. In 2003, she was nominated the Deputy Administrator of the DEA and the Senate confirmed here in 2004. During this time she served in Minneapolis, Los Angles, and San Francisco. She served in this role until her nomination as the Administrator of the DEA in 2008.
She was not confirmed until 2010 but served as the acting administrator from 2008-2010. Her tenure has been marked by controversy due to her refusal to state that marijuana is less addictive and harmful than heroin or crack-cocaine and undermining state law with regards to marijuana.
She has received the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive in 2004, the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service in 2000, and recognized for her leadership in the Law Enforcement Exploring program, which provides resources students interested in law enforcement careers.