Michelle DiGruttolo – Keynote Speaker

Former White House Intelligence Briefer, Decoding Global Events with an Intelligence Insider's Perspective

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Specialist Subjects

  • Fault Lines, Fractures and Flashpoints: Mapping the Geopolitical Landscape
  • Black Swans, Gray Ducks, and Pink Flamingoes: Forecasting and Understanding Geopolitical Risk
  • Mother, Daughter, Soldier, Spy: Secrets of a White House Intelligence Whisperer
  • Unraveling the Ties of Titans: Great Power Competition in the Wake of Globalization
  • Shifting Sands: The Global Impact of Conflict in the Middle East
  • Geopolitical Dominoes: The Global Stakes of the 2024 US Election Outcome
  • Hotter Days, Power Plays, and the Conflict Maze: How Climate Drives Conflict


  • English


Michelle DiGruttolo, MBA, MA is a dynamic and influential speaker, known for high-energy keynotes that combine keen geopolitical knowledge and her ability to decode current events, taking audiences beyond the headlines to help them make sense of complex issues and discover hidden trends, patterns, and relationships.

Her experience as a former Daily Intelligence Briefer to President Obama underpins her credibility as a seasoned advisor and expert strategist. A decision-shaping influencer, Michelle has analyzed, packaged, and presented critical information to executive leaders in the White House, the Cabinet, the Congress, and the Pentagon. In that role, she drew on her decades of intelligence expertise to craft and deliver executive presentations about national security threats stemming from terrorism, illicit finance, rogue cyber and other advanced technologies, nuclear and biological weapons proliferation, space, and the growing military capabilities of threat actors like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

Michelle’s professional background is deeply rooted in critical intelligence roles where she led multidisciplinary intelligence teams around the world. A combat veteran, Michelle draws on her experiences and networks in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America to explore how seemingly unrelated world events and behind the scenes geopolitical machinations can create unexpected outcomes. Her insightful presentations offer audiences a glimpse behind the curtain or a bird’s eye view into the often-opaque decision-making of both state and non-state actors and leave her audiences with a richer understanding of geopolitical aims strategies.

As the founder and principal advisor of Sage Raven Advisory, Michelle leverages her impressive three-decade career in intelligence and leadership to advise C-suite executives and boards on geopolitical, climate, cyber, and emerging technology risks that impact global operations, supply chains, investments, and strategic plans. Prior to launching Sage Raven, Michelle co-founded an award-winning professional services consulting firm where she built a successful, technology-enabled geopolitical consulting practice advising clients in industries spanning energy, finance, manufacturing, mining, and technology.

Previously, Michelle served as an intelligence officer for over 20 years in the U.S. Army, holding leadership roles in critical intelligence functions including collection, analysis, production, and reporting. When she’s not gushing about geopolitics, you can find her with at least one of her four boys and her husband on the trail, in the kitchen, or at the lake.

Michelle holds an MBA from the University of Virginia and a master’s in political science from the University of North Carolina, among other advanced qualifications.

Popular Talks by Michelle DiGruttolo

Fault Lines, Fractures and Flashpoints: Mapping the Geopolitical Landscape

2023 marked a significant shift in the global landscape, signaling a period of deep-rooted change, uncertainty, and instability poised to reconfigure international politics and transform the landscape for global commerce, international security, and global growth. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, reignited tensions in the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucuses, and the South China Sea, coupled with frequent coups across Africa and escalating aggression everywhere suggest we’re transitioning to a new, more dangerous and volatile era of great power politics.

Now imagine a world where a melting glacier ignites a geopolitical firestorm, where the gap between the digital haves and have-nots carves a chasm deep enough to shift the global balance of power, where an isolated peninsula has the potential to redraw international boundaries overnight, and where disputed waters could suddenly turn into a battleground for superpowers.

Welcome to ‘Fault Lines, Fissures, Fractures, and Flashpoints’ — a journey through the hidden triggers that stand to not only reshape nations but also redefine our future, where today’s overlooked tensions are tomorrow’s headlines. Join Michelle to explore a world where unseen political fault lines beneath our feet can suddenly shift, transforming the geopolitical landscape overnight. Where tiny cracks in the global framework widen into chasms that redraw borders and rewrite the rules of international engagement. This is not the plot of a thriller novel; it’s the reality of today’s global dynamics that will shape the future of global politics, economics, and security. Let’s explore and map the unseen forces that could awaken to challenge our assumptions and test our preparedness in the face of global change.

Key Takeaways:
– Learn the Impact of Geopolitical Tensions: Recognize how current conflicts and reignited tensions in places like Ukraine, the Middle East, and the South China Sea are indicative of a larger transition in the geopolitical arena, with implications for global commerce and security.
– Understand how transformative International Dynamics are changing our Future: Discover the current events and tensions that are altering the global balance of power.
– Use Predictive Analysis: Identify and understand “hidden triggers” that could lead to significant geopolitical shifts, ensuring that today’s overlooked tensions don’t become tomorrow’s crises.

Black Swans, Gray Ducks, and Pink Flamingoes: Forecasting and Understanding Geopolitical Risk

In a world awash with uncertainty, the extraordinary and the unforeseen can truly captivate our imaginations and jolt our realities. Picture a ‘Black Swan’—a rare, unforeseen event with the power to upend economies and governments overnight. Now, imagine a ‘Gray Duck’—an event lurking just beneath the surface of our expectations, its impact looming but not yet clear. And what of the ‘Pink Flamingo’? An outlier so striking, so unexpected, that it seems to belong to the realm of fiction—until it lands with a splash, altering the course of history.

Join Michelle to traverse the geopolitical landscape where the unexpected can redefine the very fabric of our society overnight, as the rare and the unthinkable lie in wait alongside mundane global and political events. Learn the tools and methods to confidently navigate a treacherous landscape where Black Swans emerge from the shadows to upend economies, Gray Ducks glide silently on the surface while concealing the tides of change beneath, and Pink Flamingoes stand as vibrant harbingers of the extraordinary risks lurking in the corners of global politics and dive deeply into the heart of probability on a voyage into the heart of uncertainty itself, where the next world-altering event could be just around the corner.

Key Takeaways:
– Understand Black Swans: An awareness that unpredictable and high-impact events, such as the sudden political collapse of a major economy or an unexpected severe climate event, can and do occur. The audience will understand the nature of these events, their potential signs, and the importance of resilience and adaptability in the face of such challenges.
– Insight into Gray Ducks: How to identify high-impact events that are probable, but whose timing and extent are unclear. Methods to monitor the known unknowns and understanding how to evaluate their potential impact, design flexible response strategies, and prepare for them through strategic forecasting and planning.
– Recognize Pink Flamingoes: An appreciation for the low-probability, high-impact events that seem almost impossible until they happen. Understanding the importance of contingency planning and the importance of considering even the seemingly implausible scenarios in risk assessments.
– The importance of Resilience and Adaptability in the Face of Unknown Risks: Building adaptable strategies (I&W frameworks) that can withstand the shocks of Black Swans, adjust to the uncertainty of Gray Ducks, and maintain vigilance for Pink Flamingoes.

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