James Knights

Contact Details


James J. Knights
Evans City, PA 16033

M.A., International Relations, University of Chicago, 1979

B.A., Summa Cum Laud, Soviet & East European Studies, University of Massachusetts, 1978

Professional Experience:

Federal Bureau of Investigation (1983 - 2009)

(Retired, November 2009)


Special Agent


During a career spanning more than 26 years, have been assigned to the Baltimore, Dallas, Newark and Pittsburgh field offices, with temporary duty assignments to Moscow, Cairo and Iraq. 


Investigative responsibilities have including the following programs: Public Corruption; Civil Rights (including homicide); Bank Robberies; Fugitives; Thefts from Interstate Shipments; Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property; Counterintelligence; Counterterrorism; Technical Investigations Program.


Possess extensive surveillance experience to include technical surveillance, ground surveillance and air surveillance.


Was commended by US Attorney General William French Smith and FBI Director William Webster for my efforts in identifying a multiple-homicide subject in 1984; Commended by FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2007 for public relations and recruiting initiatives.  Have received two monetary incentive awards while assigned as the Applicant Coordinator/Recruiter for the Pittsburgh Field Office.




Applicant Coordinator/Recruiter, Pittsburgh Field Office (2001 - 2009)


Ensured compliance with current recruiting/hiring guidelines and regulations, especially in accordance with federal Equal Employment Opportunity regulations.

Responsible for driving the FBI diversity goal in recruitment and hiring; public relations campaigns; writing press collateral; leading executive and employee communications projects; and managing staff and advertising agencies in the Pittsburgh Field Office.  Serve as councilor to executive leadership team regarding matters of diversity and “critical skill” recruitment. Received a letter of commendation from FBI Director Robert Mueller in May, 2007 for public relations and recruiting initiatives.  The Pittsburgh Field Office has steadily increased its percentages for diversity hiring and has been rated as “Outstanding” (the highest rating) for hiring and recruitment initiatives. 


Suggested, designed and implemented the FBI’s first billboard campaign for recruiting, which received national attention from CNN, the AP, and the New York Times.  The success of this campaign prompted the FBI to initiate a nationwide billboard recruiting campaign. 


Produced a joint FBI-Shriners Hospitals for Children (SHC) video, “Fit for the Future,” the first such partnership between a major law enforcement agency and a premier health care provider.  The video won ‘The Communicator Award of Distinction’ for 2006. Framed the initial concept; presented it to FBI and Shriner’s executives; obtained funding and approval from both organizations; selected and managed the production company; reviewed and edited the script; and participated in the taping, editing, and post-production.  The video was on-time, within budget, and effective at increasing FBI awareness and improving the public view of the FBI and Shriners Hospitals. 


In 2006, launched an annual FBI essay contest for local university students. Successes from this campaign include a 2005 winner who is scheduled to join the August, 2007 FBI Special Agent’s training class and a 2006 winner who has joined the FBI’s professional staff.


Worked regularly with the FBI’s national public relations agency. Have extensive experience dealing with TV, print, and radio, regularly arranging for FBI exposure in the media.  Understand budget dynamics and routinely articulate the effectiveness of various PR endeavors to the FBI‘s national recruitment office to justify budget allocations.  Consistently receive a budget above that normally provided to field offices, while respecting the importance of the bottom line in delivering and demonstrating communication results. 


Published several articles both within the FBI and externally.  Articles have appeared in “Latina Style,” “Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE),” “Chief of Police,” “Women Police,” and “Women in Higher Education” as well as on the FBI website. “Remembering Martha” was called “inspirational” and “heartwarming” by FBI Director Robert Mueller and has been published numerous times.  A framed copy of the same article hangs at FBI headquarters, in the Pittsburgh Field Office, Washington Field Office (WFO), and was given to the Dixon family and Mt. Lebanon High School to commemorate the dedication of the Martha Dixon Building, home to the Pittsburgh Field office.  Other published articles led to requests for appearances and presentations.  The inclusion of “Why the FBI Seeks More Women Agents” on the FBI website resulted in approximately 1000 positive responses from women from across the United States and numerous foreign countries. In 2005, was invited to do a presentation at the WIFLE Annual Leadership Conference based on the content of this article.


To promote better communication and cultural awareness, arranged a panel presentation for the Annual Applicant Coordinators/Recruiters Conference in 2005.  Contacted prominent leaders in the US Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities and arranged for their participation in a panel discussion at the conference. Led the dialogue between the panel members and FBI Applicant Coordinators/Recruiters.  The conference was also attended by FBI executives including Director Mueller. Currently continuing this campaign by working with prominent representatives in the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities to plan a 2007 training seminar with Federal, State, and local officials in order to improve communication and cultural awareness.


Spoke frequently to universities, colleges, community organizations, and professional societies about opportunities with the FBI, reducing the complicated issues of FBI employment into simple messages and key facts that inspire individuals to join. Established relationships with local universities including participation in Point Park University’s (PPU) establishment of a Bachelor of Science in Intelligence and National Security degree program and working with Robert Morris University (RMU) to create a synergy between government and academia by working with MBA students to

create real-world marketing strategies for the FBI.


On-Site Project Manager for Construction of New FBI Pittsburgh Field Office (1999-2001)


Assisted in planning and designing the new headquarters building for the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI. Provided oversight to ensure contract execution in accordance with government policies. Oversaw planning and administration of contracts. Prepared and disseminated information to appropriate employees regarding contract status, facilitate contractor meetings. Maintained detailed and organized files and routinely briefed management on construction progress, delays and problems. Proposed solutions. Tracked authorizations and correspondence. On a daily basis oversaw all phases of building planning and construction. Worked extensively with contractors to ensure their compliance with FBI and federal requirements and regulations. Often directed contractors in correcting their oversights and errors. Oversaw on-site security guard force. 


Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Coordinator/Counselor (1998 - 2009)


Ensured compliance with federal EEO regulations and guidelines. Maintained detailed files and records. Wrote and submitted quarterly reports to the FBI’s National EEO Office. Provided counseling to aggrieved employees as well as internal EEO investigations.


Media Coordinator, Newark Field Office (1987 - 1989)


Ensured compliance with Second Amendment and applicable federal Freedom of Speech regulations and guidelines. Was the media spokesperson for the Newark Field Office of the FBI. Wrote press releases and responded to media inquiries. Handled New York City and Newark media markets including TV, radio, and print. Interviewed by radio and print media including the AP and the New York Times.  Arranged press conferences for the FBI with major media and arranged for attendance of the FBI and media. Worked directly with the US Attorney’s Office, then led by Sam Alito, now a Supreme Court Justice, and Michael Chertoff, now Secretary of Homeland Security, to coordinate the dissemination of information about high-profile cases. 


Other Experience in the FBI: 


Evidence Response Team, Pittsburgh Field Office (2003-2009)

Hazardous Materials Response Team, Pittsburgh Field Office (2004-2009)

Soviet Foreign Counterintelligence (FCI) Squad (1985 - 1987)

Aviation Coordinator (1991 - 1995)

Acting Assistance Legal Attaché, US Embassy, Moscow, Russia (1998)

Acting Assistant Legal Attaché, US Embassy, Cairo, Egypt, 2002

Temporary Duty Assignment Iraq (2007)




Prior Employment:


LT (jg) US Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve 1971-1983


Intelligence Analyst, National Security Agency, 1980-1983

Related Experience:


Civil Air Patrol: 2002 – 2012. Squadron Commander (2007 – 2009); former Group Safety Officer; Check Pilot; Command Pilot; Instructor Pilot; SAR Mission Pilot; Transportation Pilot; Mountain Flying Certification; CAP/ROTC Cadet Orientation Pilot


In early 2009, was appointed a charter member of the newly-formed National Public Trust Committee of the US Air Force Auxiliary/Civil Air Patrol.  This committee was formed by the CAP National Commander to deal with issues of corporate transparency.


Regional Director, National Public Relations Committee, Shriners Hospitals for Children (2002 – 2013)


Regional director for Shriners Hospitals for Children (SHC) public relations.  Responsible for overseeing the public relations committees of 10 shrine centers in the US and Canada. which are responsible for building relationships with the media, corporate and other non-profit organizations.  All SHC PR campaigns that go beyond the territorial scope of the individual Shrine Center are reported to the regional director.  Developed partnership between the FBI and SHC including the aforementioned “Fit For The Future” DVD and a program in which FBI personnel refer children to the SHC for medical care.  This program was duplicated in Canada with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


•     A critical responsibility of SHC public relations is dealing with public trust issues. On several occasions in recent years, SHC and Shriners International have come under scrutiny by the press for alleged malfeasance.  In February, 2007, the New York Times published a series of investigative articles concerning alleged financial misconduct and retaliatory actions at several Shrine locations. Dealing successfully with these issues was of paramount importance so patient confidence, patient recruitment, fund raising and membership, would not be adversely affected.  




Air Command and Staff College, US Air Force, July, 2010

M.A., International Relations, University of Chicago, 1979

B.A., Summa Cum Laud, Soviet & East European Studies, University of Massachusetts, 1978

News Media Training for Federal Managers, 1995

EEO Counselor Training, 1998

EEO Investigator Training, 1999


Published materials:


“Remembering Martha”, 2004

“Why the FBI Seeks More Women Agents”, 2003

“Engineers and the FBI”, 2002

“Preparing for a Career in the FBI”, 2003

“Benjamin’s Field,” 2015. A fictional trilogy.




Equal Employment Opportunity Gold Award of Excellence presented by the Pittsburgh Federal Executive Board, 2011


Hispanic Employment Program Committee Employee of the Year, 2011


Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh for exceptional outreach and community service, 2009


Several FBI commendations, 1983-2009.



FAA-certificated Airline Transport Pilot, Airplane, Multi-Engine, Land;

Commercial Pilot, airplane, single-engine, land;

Flight Instructor, airplane, single-engine, land

Flight Instructor-Instrument, Airplane Single-Engine, Land.

Ground Instructor