Betsy Markey was born in Cresskill, New Jersey as the sixth of seven children. Markey attended college at the University of Florida from 1974 through 1978. Her last semester was completed abroad at a university in Poznań, Poland. After completing a degree in Political Science, Markey worked for a short period of time on the staff of U.S. Senator John A. Durkin (D-NH). She later went on to work for U.S. Congressman Herbert Harris (D-VA) as a Caseworker/Legislative Assistant on one of the Congressman’s subcommittees. Markey was hired as a Staff Assistant to the Vice President for Development and Planning at American University in 1981. Markey completed a Masters of Public Administration in 1983 from American University.
In 1983 Markey was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow, a competitive two-year management program track in the federal government. Markey went on to hold positions in the United States Treasury Department as budget and program analyst, as human resources specialist, and as staff assistant to the Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Service.
In 1984, during the Reagan Administration, she was recruited by the U.S. Department of State to develop computer security policies for the newly formed Office of Information Systems Security. Markey served as Director of Computer Security Policy and Training and worked with all bureaus to craft computer security policy. She created the Department’s first comprehensive computer security training program for management, security personnel and support staff globally. For her work, Markey received the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award. Markey left the Department in 1988 at the GS-14 level.