Image - speaker plus book cover
San Francisco

Jonna Mendez: Unmasking My Life in the CIA

In-person TicketsOnline-only Tickets

If you are not a member yet, now is the time to join our community and receive the great benefits of membership. We are a group of people seeking truth, insight and wisdom about the issues we face as individuals and as a society. Please join! You can become a monthly sustaining member for just $10 a month.

When Jonna Hiestand Mendez first joined the CIA, she still needed her husband’s permission to open a bank account or shut off the gas to their apartment. Hired as a convenience to her CIA officer husband’s career, she began by performing secretarial duties for the agency.

But she didn’t stay in the secretarial pool. Mendez's talent for espionage was clear, and she soon took on bigger and more significant roles at the CIA. She lived under cover and served tours of duty all over the globe, as well as at CIA headquarters. She confronted dangerous situations that called on her spy training: coming face to face with a rogue jihadi who had brought down an American plane, and helping steal a top-secret encryption machine from a Soviet embassy, among other high stakes situations. She became an international spy and ultimately the chief of disguise at the CIA’s Office of Technical Service—a kind of female American version of James Bond's famous "Q."

Now, the bestselling co-author of The Moscow Rules and Argo tells her riveting, courageous story of being a female spy at the CIA and battling against the prevailing culture of sexism at the time, all while undertaking dangerous missions for America’s safety during the height of the Cold War.


This program has 2 types of tickets available: in-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

If you have symptoms of illness (coughing, fever, etc.), we ask that you either stay home or wear a mask. Our front desk has complimentary masks for members and guests who would like one.

Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California is a nonprofit public forum; we welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our programming.

Copies of In True Face are available for purchase during checkout (U.S. domestic shipping only).

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Bernard Osher Foundation

Photo by Tina Leu.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Mon, Mar 18 / 6:00 PM PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Jonna Mendez

Jonna Mendez

Former Chief of Disguise, CIA; Author, In True Face: A Woman’s Life in the CIA, Unmasked

Moderator TBA


5:30 p.m. doors open & check-in
6–7 p.m. program
7 p.m. book signing
(all times Pacific Time)


$15 members
$25 nonmembers
$45 members with a book
$55 nonmembers with a book
Free for Leadership Circle members and students (without a book)
Free for members
$10 nonmembers
$30 members with a book
$40 nonmembers with a book
Free for Leadership Circle members and students (without a book)