2016 Class of Congressional Interns Arrive at Panetta Institute for Orientation

The 2016 class of the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program arrived at the Institute on August 7 for two weeks of classes before departing to Washington, D.C. to serve for eleven weeks as Congressional interns in an office of a member of the California congressional delegation.

Unknown-3Interns are nominated by the presidents of twenty-three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University, and interviewed for participation by the Panetta Institute and a representative from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

Among the many experts addressing in this year’s class of students are: former Vice President Dan Quayle; Ron Brownstein, best-selling author and Atlantic Media Company’s editorial director for strategic partnerships; Dan Balz, best-selling author and chief correspondent for The Washington Post; and David Mills, professor, Stanford Law School well as Secretary Panetta who will teach a number of courses.

Now in its eighteenth year, the semester-long public service experience was created by Secretary and Mrs. Panetta and is sponsored by the Panetta Institute. Today, it is considered one of the finest congressional intern programs in the nation. Following the initial two weeks of classes, twenty-six students will travel to Washington, D.C. On the East Coast, they will serve eleven weeks as interns in the United States House of Representatives, in the offices of both Republican and Democratic members.

“Our 2016 national survey of college students found 73% of students felt they would have a more difficult time achieving the American Dream than their parents,” said Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta. “The American dream is building a better life for our children. As the son of Italian immigrants, I was able to live that dream and work in the highest offices in the land. At the Panetta Institute our goal is to give that same opportunity to other promising young people. Our intern program gives these youngsters, many of whom are first generation college students, as I was, the training and financial resources they need to work in Washington and participate in our democracy. For many, this program is the beginning of their career in public service.”  Click here for more information about the Congressional Internship Program and a complete lift of speakers for this year’s orientation.

Changing Society, Technology and Media Examined at Final Event in Leon Panetta 2016 Lecture Series

The final event in the 2016 season of the Leon Panetta Lecture Series was held June 27, with an examination by three noted media experts of the changing media landscape and its impact on society.

The lecture closed out the nineteenth season of the Leon Panetta Lecture Series. Each year, the series features nationally known speakers who focus on solutions, areas for compromise and ideas to move the country forward. As the Panetta Institute continues to bring national political leaders and policy thinkers to the Monterey Peninsula, these unique forums offer the community a venue for dialogue about issues that concern everyone.

Media critic Howard Kurtz weighs in on influence of social media at the final forum in the 2026 Lecture Series.

Media critic Howard Kurtz weighs in on influence of social media at the final forum in the 2026 Lecture Series.

The fourth and final lecture in the 2016 series examined Changing Society, Technology and Media and featured Ted Koppel, former anchor of ABC News’ Nightline; Howard Kurtz, host of FOX News’ Media Buzz and author; and Judy Woodruff, co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour.

The three speakers each had differing reactions to the quickly changing media landscape. Mr. Koppel acknowledged that he doesn’t use social media, and recalled, “There was a time thirty or forty years ago in this country when because there were so few (electronic) media outlets … the media actually served to unite the country.”

Mr. Kurtz contrasted that view, saying that part of his job is promoting his work on Facebook and Twitter. He acknowledged that social media elicits negative comments, but said he believes it also creates a dialogue for legitimate points. “That’s not something you could do a decade ago and I think that’s a healthy thing,” he said.

Ms. Woodruff said social media “has made our jobs more complicated.” Journalists are expected to be active on social media, she said,  in addition to producing stories that are accurate, balanced and well-researched.

“This is the way it’s going to be so we have to get used to it,” she added.

The 2016 Leon Panetta Lecture Series  focused on the theme, An America in Renaissance or Decline? The Challenges Facing a New President and was held at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel. Lectures were on March 14, April 18, May 9 and June 27. Lectures also included War, Terrorism and Other Global Threats; Jobs, Debt and Taxes; and Gridlock, Partisanship and Executive Action. For a complete listing of dates and speakers, click here.

The live, ticketed evening lectures  are also televised throughout California, with rebroadcasts of each discussion available on YouTube and on the Panetta Institute website.

For information on season tickets for the 2017 season, call the Institute at 831-582-4200.

Students Leaders From Across the State Complete Leadership Seminar

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Secretary Leon Panetta and Sylvia Panetta pose with the 2016 participants in the Leadership Seminar.

A celebrated program for student body presidents and other elected student body officers from the California State University system and three private universities began its seventeenth annual session at the Panetta Institute on June 12.

The diverse group of student leaders spent eight days at the Institute for the comprehensive program learning from experts in a variety of fields. These leaders, from government to the private sector and from the military to the world of sports shared their experiences and their strategies for success.

Entitled Education for Leadership in Public Service, the program featured workshops on strategies for ethical compromise, putting leadership theory into practice, insiders’ tips on successful management along with achieving goals, understanding modern media, and tips on policy-making.

“In our recent national poll, 73% of students felt they would have a more difficult time achieving the American Dream than their parents,” explained Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta. “The purpose of this leadership program is to make clear to young leaders that they can make a difference in the future or our nation. We spent eight days showing student leaders diverse aspects of leadership from people who know how to lead. We need to pass their lessons on to the next generation of stewards of our democracy.”

Secretary Panetta was among the speakers and discussion leaders at the Leadership Seminar. Other speakers included government and business leaders, as well as legal, military and education experts. Two former NFL stars, Super Bowl winner Chris Dalman and Ron Johnson, spoke on the importance of teamwork in leadership.

Consensus Building #3

Former Assemblyman Fred Keeley helps guide Leadership students through a consensus-building exercise.

This special course was developed in 1999 by a blue-ribbon panel of public officials and academic leaders in response to the findings of the Institute’s national survey of college students, which showed alarmingly low levels of student interest in government and public service.

The Leadership Seminar has grown in popularity since its inception, thanks to its focus on practical steps that student leaders can take both in their leadership positions on campus and in their future endeavors in public service. Some campuses have found such value of the program that they send multiple students who are in leadership positions.

“Many of our past students tell us that this seminar was their inspiration to seek out future positions of leadership in their careers and in their communities,” said Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “The lessons shared by our many speakers give our students practical steps they can take now and in the future to make a difference in our country.”

2016 Class of Congressional Interns Due to Arrive at Panetta Institute

The 2016 class of the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program will arrive at the Institute on August 7 for two weeks of classes before departing to Washington, D.C. to serve for eleven weeks as Congressional aides in an office of a member of the California congressional delegation.

Unknown-3“Every year we have the opportunity to meet and work with some outstanding young  individuals,” said Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “As in past years, this year’s interns are a diverse group, both ethnically and in their selected courses of studies. They also are geographically diverse as well, coming from all parts of California.”

Interns are nominated by the presidents of twenty-three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University, and interviewed for participation by the Panetta Institute and a representative from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

During the intensive summer training session, these students attend lectures led by an array of experts from a variety of leadership positions and academic disciplines.

Their studies continue during the course of their internship in Washington, D.C. as well, with participants attending regular seminars on policy issues and different aspects of government, featuring leading experts from both political parties as well as career government officials.

Panetta Institute Survey Finds College Students Pessimistic About the Country’s Future and Their Ability to Achieve the American Dream

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.49.01 PMIn its latest nationwide survey of college students, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy has found a significant decline in optimism on campus about the direction of the country, with 55 percent of students now saying America is on the wrong track, as opposed to 43 percent who felt that way a year ago, and with 73 percent saying it will be harder for people of their generation to achieve the American dream than it was for their parents’ generation.

“Young Americans are now reflecting the concern of their families about the future of the economy,” observed Institute chairman Leon E. Panetta.

The Panetta Institute, which commissions its annual survey in part to guide its curriculum, encourages young people to consider careers in public service and helps prepare them for the challenges they will face as future leaders. The study has been conducted by Hart Research Associates since 2001 and explores students’ attitudes and opinions on a wide range of topics, including social trends, political preferences, personal career expectations and a variety of national and international issues.

For this year’s Panetta survey, Hart Research conducted online interviews with 801 students at four-year colleges across the country from April 22 to 28. A more extensive summary of the study’s findings is linked here.

Secretary Panetta Challenges Cal Poly Students to Engage in Public Service

Secretary Leon E. Panetta gave two commencement addresses at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Saturday, June 11, calling on graduates to do their part to help the United States fulfill its potential in the years to come.

“I believe we are at a turning point in this year of 2016,” Panetta told the graduates. “I think America can take one of two paths into the future.”

live stream_1Secretary Panetta spoke at two ceremonies, one at 9 a.m. and another at 4 p.m., in front of more than 2,725 students.

Citing a recent Panetta Institute poll of college students that showed 73 percent of young people predicting that they’ll have a tougher time achieving the American dream than their parents did, Secretary Panetta said today’s graduates have many legitimate concerns — including the state of the economy, political dysfunction and the “bizarre and crazy” politics taking place.

He urged students to detach from smartphones and social media and relate to others on a face-to-face basis. He also called upon young people to serve the country in some capacity, and said her supported such a program that would help students pay for college.

“All of you have to be willing to assume your responsibilities as citizens,” Secretary Panetta said. “To fight to make the American dream real, for yourselves and for your children.”

Sylvia Panetta Honored at CSUMB Commencement Ceremony

Sylvia Panetta and CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa

Sylvia Panetta and CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa

Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta received an honorary degree May 21 at the twentieth annual commencement ceremony at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Mrs. Panetta was honored for her role in the formation of the campus after the shuttering of the Fort Ord Army base in 1994.

“We wanted to turn swords into plowshares,” Mrs. Panetta said. “The creation of this university is the result of that dream,” she added. “Now it is your dream. This university is not only responsible for your education but for inspiring hope throughout the entire tri-county area.”

Mrs. Panetta urged the 1,500 graduates to commit to a life of public service, a mission that is at the heart of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy. More than 11,000 friends and family of graduates were in attendance.

Assessment of Monterey County Reads Suggests Significant Improvement in Student Performance; Record Number of Books Distributed

This year, 951 students received a favorite book of their very own, a record number in Monterey County Reads‘ nineteen-year history. The distribution of books at year-end is a highlight of the program for students and volunteers alike; they are presented to the children courtesy of the Panetta Institute and its many contributors.

Assessment data for the 2014-2015 school year points to a statistically significant improvement in student performance that is due at least in part to the Monterey County Reads volunteer effort.

“I have been astonished with the results of my students’ advancement.”

–Monterey County Reads volunteer,  from Marina Vista Elementary School 

Students enrolled in Monterey County Reads demonstrate increased fluency, far above the national average for students in schools that don’t offer an interventional program like Monterey County Reads. In 2014, percentage gains in fluency for 100 randomly sampled students were 131 percent for grade one; 87 percent for grade two; and for eighty students in grade three, 51 percent.

Panetta Institute literary specialists assessed students before and after they work with volunteers, and then compare their performance. The resulting data is analyzed by a researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School and regularly shows significant improvement in the students’ test scores.

To underscore that success, volunteers in the award-winning program say they witness students’ progress with each passing week. Feedback from volunteers is a crucial segment of Monterey County Reads, right along with the involvement of teachers, administrators and parents.

“Of all my volunteer work, participating in Monterey County Reads has been the most gratifying, especially as I see the children’s reading skills and confidence grow,” said Diana Jimenez, League of United Latin American Citizens president.

ricky cabrera“The data demonstrates to us that Monterey County Reads is part of the answer when it comes to the all-important matter of children learning to read,” said Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “The role of parents and teachers can’t be underestimated when we examine the assessment data, yet we are happy to report that our program is part of what is a welcome trend of improvements in literacy.”

Meanwhile, the Panetta Institute is reaching out to the business community as well as community groups for help in continuing the momentum that has built up in the program. Volunteers are being sought now in preparation for the 2016-17 school year.

“By committing to just one or two hours a week, volunteers can achieve life-changing benefits for children – the same people that will be serving their communities in just a very few years,” said Mrs. Panetta.

“The business community has become an enthusiastic partner in our efforts,” added Mrs. Panetta. “They understand that by offering assistance at this early stage of a child’s development they’re helping a child develop strong roots in their community. Our goal at the Institute is to prepare young people for public service, and by helping children at this basic level, the community is helping to provide the building blocks for the next generation of leaders.”

Many volunteers return year-after-year, taking note of the differences they’re making in young people’s lives. Monterey County Reads continues to serve more schools every year. Many of those schools say they need more volunteers to accommodate the needs of the children who need help the most.

MCR photo 5-13

Volunteer Kathy Moon with students from teacher Ruby Soto’s class at Boronda Meadows Elementary School in Salinas.

Volunteers reflect the diverse makeup of the whole of Monterey County, giving of their time and making a commitment across the breadth of the county, from Moss Landing in the north, down to the Monterey Peninsula, east to Salinas and reaching down to Soledad and Greenfield to the south.

“Our volunteers, similar to the students they’re helping, come from every walk of life,” said Mrs. Panetta. “What they have in common is a shared belief that being able to read — or to enjoy reading — is a foundation upon which successful lives are built.”

Volunteer Laura Ferree put it this way: “There is nothing more rewarding than to experience their reading progress alongside their development and confidence.”

Lecture Series Available on YouTube-Connected Smart Phones, Televisions and Other Devices

Programs in the The Leon Panetta Lecture Series  are now available on YouTube, adding another venue for the popular Lecture Series, thus making the series accessible on all smart televisions, mobile phones and other Internet-connected devices.

UnknownEach event in the Lecture Series was available for live viewing, and the videos will remain on the YouTube site for viewing again as well.

Lectures were also broadcast live on television and radio, and, as always, are available on the Panetta Institute website, which features a video archive of the forums, dating back to 1998. For a complete listing of television and radio stations, click here.

“By making the events available on over-the-air broadcasts and online, we can ensure that everyone can witness national and international experts bringing their unique views right here to the Central Coast. With lectures also available on our website as well as YouTube, they’re also accessible to people worldwide,” said Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta.

Moderated by Secretary Leon E. Panetta, lectures for 2016 were focused on the theme, An America in Renaissance or Decline? The Challenges Facing a New President, and were held at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel. Dates for the 2016 season were March 14, April 18, May 9 and June 27.

Secretary Panetta and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Co-Chair Commission on Violent Extremism

Unknown-2Unknown-1Secretary Leon E. Panetta has joined with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as co-chairs of a new commission on violent extremism that will aim to help the next United States presidential administration develop a comprehensive strategy to confront this threat to national security.

The group is being sponsored by The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Countering Violent Extremism. The new commission also hopes to guide European leaders. It will unite experts to study extremist groups like the Islamic State and recommend ways to both defeat them and to curb their appeal among disaffected youth.

Commission organizers said they plan to produce a report to help the next president confront this threat to our national security. “Whoever is the next president is going to have to deal with this,” said Prime Minister Blair in an interview in Washington last week.

Secretary Panetta noted, “Since 9/11, we have fought violent extremism on a crisis by crisis basis. What we need is a comprehensive strategy to deal with the different dimensions of this issue.”

Reflecting on his work as director of the CIA and later as Secretary of Defense, he noted that an issue this complex can be very difficult for government leaders to understand. “The threat of extremism is too great and too immediate for our next commander-in-chief to face a steep learning curve when he or she enters office. Our goal with this commission is to create a comprehensive report on this vital issue so that global leaders can provide the best possible strategy to protect their countries.”

The commission will also address the trend of successful recruitment of young people by extremist groups. “The problem of competing for the hearts and minds of Muslim youth has challenged experts for years. However, the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have forced an immediate response to the security threat by world leaders. We have to develop an effective strategy to protect our people and reduce the allure of extreme ideologies both at home and abroad, to understand what we can do to undermine this narrative that attracts so many recruits to violence,” Secretary Panetta said.

During the coming months, the Commission will develop new and innovative ideas for undercutting extremists’ radicalization and recruitment efforts and prepare a comprehensive strategy that marshals all elements of national and international power including the military, law enforcement and the intelligence community. In addition, it will study and provide recommendations for mobilizing communities to speak out and take action against the ideology and atrocities committed by violent extremists.

For more information on the commission, visit csis.org.

Monterey County Reads Expands in Soledad Elementary Schools

Two groups of students from Soledad High School helped expand the Panetta Institute’s award-winning Monterey County Reads program in the most recent spring semester at two elementary schools in the Soledad Unified School District.

Eight volunteers from the high school’s Naval Junior ROTC and six volunteers from the school’s  Future Teachers of America (FTA) augmented their volunteer programs by joining in the Monterey County Reads effort.

Volunteers from the NJROTC  read one-to-one with first- through third-grade students at Rose Ferrero Elementary School, while the FTA organized the effort at Frank Ledesma Elementary School.

“The commitment by these student volunteers allowed us to expand Monterey County Reads to Soledad Unified, bringing our program to ten school districts in Monterey County,” said Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “These volunteers helped others in the most direct and effective way possible, by giving their time to help children obtain vital literacy skills.”

Having finished its nineteenth year, Monterey County Reads organizes regular one-to-one reading sessions with specially selected children in the early elementary grades. Since the program’s inception, almost 3,000 volunteers have read with approximately 15,000 children for nearly 120,000 hours.

One volunteer reacted to his experience this way: “It’s exciting to watch a child have a new world open up to him just by simply reading a story. It’s the most rewarding project I’ve ever been involved in.”

For more information about volunteering or helping the program through a donation, please call the Panetta Institute at 831-582-4200.

Secretary Panetta Named to Advisory Committee for Proposed Eisenhower Memorial

Secretary Leon E. Panetta is one of sixteen prominent American leaders to be added to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s Advisory Committee, the organization supporting the funding and construction of a National Eisenhower Memorial to be built in Washington, D.C.

Artist's conception of proposed Eisenhower Memorial

Artist’s conception of proposed Eisenhower Memorial

Secretary Panetta and the other new appointees — former United States Vice Presidents Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale, along with former United States Senator Joe Lieberman and three other former Secretaries of Defense, Chuck Hagel, Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates — join with honorary presidential advisors Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and former First Lady Nancy Reagan, as well as a number of former cabinet members, Congressional leaders and other distinguished citizens.

Advisory Committee appointments were announced February 9, 2016, by United States Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission and former United States Senator Bob Dole, finance chairman of the Campaign for the Eisenhower Memorial.

Also named to the Advisory Committee were Judge William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA; Vernon E. Jordan Jr., senior managing director of Lazard Freres and Co., LLC, and past president of the National Urban League; Frederick W. Smith, founder, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx; T. Boone Pickens, businessman, philanthropist and energy advocate; Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr and Company, Inc.; Frederic V. Malek, founder and chairman, Thayer Lodging Group; and Norman Lear, screenwriter and producer, and a World War II veteran who served under General Eisenhower in the European theater of operations.

In announcing the additions to the Advisory Committee, Senator Roberts commented: “In the past year a strong consensus has been built by an astonishing number of prominent Americans who have joined forces and created a movement to support and build the National Eisenhower Memorial. Our advisory committee now has over eighty members and comprises a ‘Who’s Who’ of American leadership.”

As planned, the Eisenhower Memorial is to be located next to the National Mall near the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Institute Fellows Program Hits Ten-Year Mark With Continued Research On Creation of a National Service Organization

The Panetta Institute’s Policy Research Fellows Program has marked its tenth year as a key component of the Institute’s offerings with law-school students focusing their research on the possible development of a national service program for young people.

The Fellows Program was created in 2006 in collaboration with the Santa Clara University School of Law. Since then, sixty-five second- and third-year law students from Santa Clara and the Monterey College of Law have completed the program.

The newest contingent of fellows start their work on August 5. Participants work on site at the Panetta Institute, gaining first-hand experience and instruction in policy research and assisting the Institute with research and analysis on issues relevant to its work and mission.

Many of the fellows have gone on to successful law careers, both regionally and nationally. Among them:

  • John Stegman, a fellow during the fall of 2014, is now a member of the R.S.C. Law Group of Monterey, after serving as a board-certified intern for the San Jose City Attorney Office.
  • Jeffery Lind, a fellow in the spring of 2014, is an associate attorney at L+G, LLP Attorneys at Law in Salinas.
  • Roujin Mozaffarimehr, a fellow in the spring of 2013, is an attorney at Goeschl Law Corporation of San Francisco.
  • Wesley Dodd, a fellow in 2014 and again in 2016, is also the editor in chief of the Santa Clara University Law Review for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Yorum Choe, a fellow in the fall of 2014, is an attorney with Patrico, Hermanson & Guzman, A P.C in Salinas.
  • Sasha Serisina, who while a fellow at the Institute in 2010 and 2011 completed extensive research in the area of patient advocacy, is a paralegal in the law office of Eric Holk in Monterey.

Beginning in 2015, fellows intensified their research into the idea of a national service program as a result of a study commissioned by the Panetta Institute revealing that sixty-three percent of college students said they would support a system that would provide grants or financial assistance to help pay for college in exchange for two years of national service.

Secretary Leon Panetta has long supported the idea of such a national service program, and has encouraged Institute fellows to focus research on the idea as part of their fellowship at the Institute.

In addition to researching historical precedents of national service, including the history of the military draft as well as New Deal programs established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1930s, fellows have met with visiting public officials to discuss the viability of public-service programs. Among those officials are former California Assemblyman Fred Keeley and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty.

One student cited the opportunity to meet with visiting lecturers as a strength of the program. “When I was younger I wanted to work for the government but then felt disenchanted growing up,” she said. “But my experience here has reignited my interest in public policy and government work.”

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Secretary Panetta discuss the formation of a national service program at the Leon Panetta Lecture Series.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Secretary Panetta discuss the formation of a national service program at the Leon Panetta Lecture Series.

The idea of a national service program also arose during the 2015 Leon Panetta Lecture Series. One of the forum speakers, Ben Jealous, a former president and CEO of the national NAACP, brought up the idea of compulsory national service as a way to promote a ”feeling of being more connected … feeling more American.”

The subject of national service will also be addressed at two other Panetta Institute programs this year: the Student Leadership Program in June and the Congressional Internship Program, which begins in August. All three of these Institute programs feature visiting speakers from the field of public service.

While in Congress, Secretary Panetta introduced legislation calling for compulsory national service. In a letter to The New York Times in 1987, Secretary Panetta wrote: “While national service is no panacea for our country’s problems, it will help provide American youth with a sense of purpose. Young men and women will feel pride in their work, pride in their country — and, above all — pride in themselves. The time has come to give these programs the nationwide scope that they deserve.”

In addition to policies surrounding a national service program, fellows have also conducted research in support of other Institute programs, including the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards, An Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service and the Leon Panetta Lecture Series.

Fellows work under the direction of Panetta Institute staff, including attorneys. Following completion of the program, they receive academic credit for their work. Directing them are Bill Daniels, a local attorney, Dr. Richard Kezirian, the Institute’s professor and senior program coordinator, and Ellen Wilson, senior program coordinator.

Cal Poly Magazine Touts Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program

CP_magazine_cover1Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has long participated in Panetta Institute programs, and a recent issue of the college’s magazine takes an in-depth look at the Institute’s Congressional Internship Program, describing it as a rare opportunity for students selected for the program.

The article quotes former intern Anna Consani, who now works in the nation’s capital at a non-profit that supports female tech entrepreneurs: “Tons of students go to Washington in the fall for internships, but the Panetta Institute is very particular about their interns — they want them to be both humble and especially well-educated.”

The article explains how the program begins with a two-week orientation at the Institute. Ms. Consani describes the orientation classes this way: “It’s like a boot camp to prepare us for Washington.”

Following the orientation comes the actual thirteen-week internship, and another former intern, Colin Rizzo, cited the significant contribution he was able to make while interning for then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “I did a lot of press work. I coordinated press conferences and magazine articles, wrote press advisories, even wrote some speeches,” he said.  Mr. Rizzo went on to work for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign, and now helps develop renewable energy policy as an attorney and analyst for the California Public Utilities Commission.

Cal Poly’s most recent intern, Courtney Jacobson, a fourth-year student who returned to Cal Poly from her fall internship in Washington, said: “Being there and seeing all the work that goes into governance makes me feel more responsibility as a citizen to be engaged, and to influence others to do the same. Rather than complaining about Congress, we should understand that it’s a reflection of our country.”

Larry Peña, the articles author, concludes, “Interns in the program couldn’t ask for better mentors than Leon and Sylvia Panetta, who boast a lifetime of intimate experience in federal government.”

Institute Co-Chair and CEO Mrs. Panetta adds, “Secretary Panetta and I have always felt that public service is the essence of a democracy. We want our students to become more engaged, more interested in policy and politics, to become more involved in their communities.”

To see the article in the Winter 2016 issue of Cal Poly Magazine, click here. Accompanying the article is a short video:


Secretary and Mrs. Panetta’s Faithful Companion Bravo Passes Away

Bravo DoDSecretary Leon E. Panetta’s beloved golden retriever Bravo has passed away, and Secretary and Mrs. Sylvia Panetta released the following statement on December 11:

“It is with great sadness that we share that our beloved golden retriever and fourth son Bravo passed away last night.

“Bravo was a constant and steadfast companion. He was Leon’s devoted and trustworthy partner, joining him in travels across the nation and he guarded Sylvia and the Institute when Leon was away.

“In his life, Bravo spent time at the CIA, the Pentagon, the Panetta Institute and, of course, at our home in Carmel Valley. He provided solace to Leon during his time as CIA Director and as Secretary of Defense. Leon has frequently said that Bravo helped him keep his humanity when 130214-D-NI589-831dealing with the struggles of leadership and a nation at war.

“To all who met him, Bravo was a source of joy. He taught us so much about faithfulness, dedication and loyalty. We will greatly miss his noble soul and his dignified friendship, but we are so grateful for the many years and journeys we were able to share with him.

“It has been said that dogs come in to our lives to show us how to love, if this is true than there was no better teacher than Bravo Edward Panetta.”

Panetta Institute Honors Top Journalists at Sixteenth Annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards

Four television journalists were honored by The Panetta Institute for Public Policy at the sixteenth annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards gala celebrated on November 14, 2015 at The Inn at Spanish Bay.

Secretary and Mrs. Panetta with honorees David Martin and Jim Miklascewski

Secretary and Mrs. Panetta with honorees David Martin and Jim Miklaszewski

The tribute to the journalists was underscored by the previous day’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which prompted Secretary Leon E. Panetta to remind the more than 400 attendees “to join hands with our friends and allies in sorrow but also in commitment to do all we can to bring those involved to justice, to defeat them and to defeat terrorism.”

As a result of the attacks, two of the four honorees were away in Paris covering the story — Scott Pelley, CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor and correspondent for the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes; and Martha Raddatz, ABC News chief global affairs correspondent.

However, two other honorees were able to attend: David Martin, CBS News national security correspondent covering the Pentagon and the State Department, and Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent.

“Just as we expect those in uniform to immediately respond to a crisis, so too in a democracy founded on the principle of a free press and an informed public, we would expect no less from those whose responsibility it is to cover the news and to report to the American people,” said Secretary Panetta.

In honoring the journalists, Secretary Panetta said, “We honor four journalists who deeply understand the importance of their profession and the duty they hold to the preservation of our democracy. Each has spent significant time covering our men and women in uniform. Like me, they have been humbled by the courage shown by these young people as they put their lives on the line for freedoms that we so easily can take for granted. This awareness is evident in their commitment and in their integrity. We honor not only their professionalism, we honor their patriotism.”

Both Mr. Martin and Mr. Miklaszewski spoke of their professional relationship with Secretary Panetta over the years. Mr. Miklaszewski observed that “Leon was confident enough in himself to accept opinions of others. He was capable of putting aside politics and partisanship to do what’s good for the American people.”

Mr. Martin wryly commented on the sometime antagonistic relationship between the press and public officials, and said he was “proud to call myself part of the club that never laid a glove on Leon Panetta.”

The Jefferson-Lincoln Awards are presented each year to individuals whose professional achievements represent exceptional commitment to the principles of our democracy and a dedication to encouraging the healthy function of the United States system of government through an informed electorate.

The gala and dinner serves as the Panetta Institute’s major yearly fund-raiser. Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta told the audience, “The monies raised here support  our programs throughout the year, purchasing books for young readers in Monterey County Reads, paying for those in the Congressional Internship Program to fly and live in Washington, D.C., and helping us prepare students for their participation in the Leon Panetta Lecture Series.”

Sylvia M. Panetta Formally Commissions Newly Designed Navy Ship USS Milwaukee 

Sylvia M. Panetta

Sylvia M. Panetta

Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta formally commissioned the USS Milwaukee into service for the United States Navy at a special ceremony at Milwaukee’s Veterans Park on Saturday, November 21, 2015.

Mrs. Panetta serves as ship sponsor for the USS Milwaukee, the Navy’s latest littoral combat ship. Littoral combat ships, designed for versatility and speed, are a relatively new addition to the U.S. Navy. They are built to operate close to shore and to quickly switch from one combat mode to another by swapping out different equipment such as anti-mine or anti-submarine gear. Unlike older Navy ships, littoral combat ships operate with much smaller crews. A crew of fifty-four operates the USS Milwaukee, though it will carry around 100 when sailors tied to the helicopter aviation unit are on board.

This ship is considered an important addition to the U.S. military’s transition from warfare that saw navies fighting against one another toward the current military effort to combat terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

A large crowd attended the commissioning ceremony. Nearly 19,000 tickets were distributed for the day’s events, which featured speeches, patriotic music and Wisconsin-made beer and bratwurst. After Mrs. Panetta formally commissioned the ship with the words “Man your ship and bring it to life,” the crew ran from the shore onto the USS Milwaukee, started its engines, engaged its radar and other operations and sounded a long whistle blast.

Activities also included a reunion for members of the last USS Milwaukee, an oiler that earned a campaign star during the Vietnam War and, before it was decommissioned in 1994, helped transport the King Tutankhamen exhibition to America in 1976.

Mrs. Panetta christened the ship in December 2013 in Marinette, Wisconsin with the traditional breaking of a bottle of champagne over the vessel’s hull. In her role as sponsor, Mrs. Panetta has visited with the ship’s crew several times over the past two years. Further, officers from the ship have participated in programs at The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, speaking with young leaders about leadership in the military and touching on the themes of character, team building and sacrifice.

Mrs. Panetta said, “It is a true honor to be asked to serve as a sponsor of this extraordinary ship and to get to know the remarkable young men and women who will serve as her crew. Secretary Panetta has spent his life working on behalf of this great nation and the principles of our democracy. At the Panetta Institute, we work every day hoping to inspire students to lead lives of public service and participate in the system of government for which so many have sacrificed so much. Our democracy depends, and indeed thrives, on those who give of themselves for the benefit of their fellow human beings”

The USS Milwaukee is the third Freedom-class littoral combat ship built in Marinette, Wisconsin. The USS Milwaukee will now travel through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the East Coast, then south to the Panama Canal to its home port of San Diego for patrols in Asia.

Former Monterey City Manager Fred Meurer Joins Institute to Head Development of New Panetta Institute Center

Fred Meurer

Fred Meurer

Former Monterey City Manager Fred Meurer has joined the Panetta Institute to direct an initiative to create a new center for the Institute. Mr. Meurer will also guide the development program to help fund its construction.

The center is planned to be built on the campus of California State University, Monterey Bay.

In announcing the appointment, Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta said, “Fred Meurer was part of the initial concept development and fund raising effort that created California State University, Monterey Bay after the closure of Fort Ord. I believe that Fred can help Sylvia and me take the Institute to an expanded role in public service and policy development for the community and the nation.”

Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta noted that she and Secretary Panetta recruited Mr. Meurer to join the Institute because of a long-standing working relationship.  “We have a very high level of trust and confidence in Fred’s technical, organizational and leadership abilities,” said Mrs. Panetta.  “In addition to the technical skills Fred possesses, he has been a guest instructor/presenter for classes at the Institute in strategic planning, leadership, municipal finance and public administration. His passion for public service, coupled with his curriculum and teaching experience, will be very helpful in developing a new center to respond to the future requirements of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy.”

Mr. Meurer recently retired from the City of Monterey after nearly twenty-eight years of service as the city’s public works director and city manager. While with the city, he was intimately involved with the planning and fund raising for the Monterey Sports Center and a later expansion of the Sports Center. He also managed the planning and execution of the construction of Window on the Bay Park, the Cannery Row garage, the recreation trail and a number of other projects in the city.

Prior to going to work for the City of Monterey, Mr. Meurer was the public works and housing director at Fort Ord.  During his time at Fort Ord, he was responsible for the planning, construction and operations of all of the facilities at Fort Ord, the Presidio of Monterey and Fort Hunter Liggett.

“I am very excited to be returning to my roots at Fort Ord,” he said, “and to have the opportunity to be part of the Panetta Institute, working with Leon and Sylvia Panetta who understand leadership and share an exciting vision for the future.”

Mr. Meurer graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1966. He graduated from Stanford University with masters degrees in construction management and in water resource planning in 1971.

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The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
100 Campus Center, Building 86E
California State University, Monterey Bay
Seaside, California 93955

Phone 831-582-4200
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