Secretary Leon E. Panetta Gives Keynote Address at Eighteenth Annual Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony for Monterey County Reads

Secretary Leon E. Panetta gave the keynote address at a special Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony on Friday, September 11 honoring reading volunteers and elementary schools who have participated in the Institute’s landmark literacy initiative, Monterey County Reads.

Secretary Panetta spoke about the importance of public service and the essential role literacy plays in our democracy. The Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony, featuring Secretary Panetta, was held at the University Center Ballroom at CSU Monterey Bay.


Secretary Panetta praises volunteers for service above self.

“The American dream is to give our children a better life,” said Secretary Panetta. “These volunteers and the teachers and the school-site personnel who work with them are helping to make that dream possible. By sharing the vital skill of literacy they are giving these children the tools they need to succeed. Their work is a wonderful example of public service.”

The event was emceed by Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta, and featured remarks by Secretary Leon E. Panetta on the importance of reading and literacy for young people. Also appearing at the event was Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski and Carmel City Councilwoman and Monterey County Reads volunteer Victoria Beach.

“Thank you very much for the excellent  ceremony…. It is important that the volunteers in this significant program be recognized and thanked for their essential input into the program”

— Jim Hagan, “Golden Thread” honoree

Additional speakers were Monterey High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor Commander Paul Tanks, USN (Ret.), who has worked with the Panetta Institute to have cadets serve as reading volunteers at La Mesa Elementary School and Foothill Elementary School, and Claudia Morales, Monterey County Reads school site coordinator at Loma Vista Elementary School in Salinas.

The Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony is held at the beginning of the school year as a way to honor all the program participants as they are preparing for classes. “We want everyone who has participated in Monterey County Reads to know that they are making a meaningful difference in the lives of children with each passing day,” said Mrs. Panetta. “It’s as simple as reading with those students who otherwise might get left behind.”


Commander Paul Tanks discusses Monterey High School’s Naval Junior ROTC volunteers.

One-hundred sixty-five reading volunteers and thirty-five schools were honored for their dedication and outstanding work in helping local elementary school children improve their reading skills. These volunteers received certificates of recognition along with special pins. Participating schools also received a certificate honoring their important participation and support.

Six volunteers received the program’s Golden Threads award in recognition of providing five or more years of service toward this vital effort.

In its eighteen-year history, almost 3,000 Monterey County Reads volunteers have read nearly 120,000 hours one-to-one with approximately 15,000 children in Monterey County elementary schools.

“We continue to increase our volunteer numbers,” Mrs. Panetta added, “and we want to celebrate all the volunteers, teachers and other school officials by recognizing them now for their past work as well as their future commitment.”


Sylvia Panetta congratulates volunteer Peggy Casey

“The work of volunteers is at the core of the program,” Chris Haubert, the Institute’s chief of staff and programs, said. “Our data show that we are having a positive impact on the children who need help the most. By donating just a little time each week, a volunteer can have the satisfaction of making an immediate and meaningful difference in a child’s life.”

Volunteers are sponsored by a wide variety of business service clubs, educational institutions, religious organizations, military installations and other community groups that form the backbone of the program. Community groups or businesses interested in sponsoring more volunteers are urged to contact the Panetta Institute. Volunteers must be sponsored by a recognized community organization or business.

The Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony is sponsored by the Panetta Institute for Public Policy and the Monterey County Office of Education. Learn more about the event on local television station KSBW and in the Monterey HeraldClick here for more information about this program and how you can help, or call the Institute at 831-582-4200.

Secretary Panetta Urges Congress to Support Agreement With Iran

Secretary Leon E. Panetta urged Congress to support President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran in a written opinion published September 4 in The Los Angeles Times.

“The agreement opens the door to a larger U.S. strategy to advance peace and stability in the Middle East,”  wrote Secretary Panetta. “That makes the Iran deal not just a gamble but an opportunity for a safer world.”

Secretary Panetta acknowledged that the agreements aren’t perfect, but “they provide a chance that the world can move in a safer direction.”

However, Secretary Panetta also called for specific steps by the United States to demonstrate that it has negotiated from a position of strength. In the article, Secretary Panetta called on the Obama administration to enforce the deal by maintaining a strong military presence, increasing intelligence operations, bolstering the coalition of allies in the Middle East and by making it clear to Iran that military force remains an option.

“Although the use of force should never be the first response,” Secretary Panetta wrote, “the argument against military action has been made so often that it has created uncertainty about our will to do what we say. For that reason, Congress should pass a resolution authorizing the current and future presidents to use force to prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Here is a link to Secretary Panetta’s op-ed.

Panetta Institute to Honor Journalists at Sixteenth Annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards

The Panetta Institute has announced the recipients of the sixteenth annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards. These 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.

UntitledThe 2015 awards will focus on the achievements of four dedicated television journalists whose work has contributed to the preservation of an informed and educated electorate. The honorees are Scott Pelley, CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor and correspondent for the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes; Martha Raddatz, ABC News chief global affairs correspondent; Dave Martin, CBS News national security correspondent covering the Pentagon and the State Department; and Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent.

Speaking to the selection of the award recipients, Institute Chairman Leon Panetta explained, “We live in a world where partisanship has not only taken over elected officials and houses of government, but has also infiltrated our media and the way we get our news and information. If we are to have any hope of breaking through this gridlock, it is essential that the American people have journalists who are committed to investigating and reporting the truth in a manner that is fair, balanced and comprehensive. These four honorees represent commitment to this important duty and are highly worthy of recognition.”

The Jefferson-Lincoln Awards. will be awarded at a special gala, An Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service that will be held at The Inn at Spanish Bay on Saturday, November 14. Click here for more information on the awardees or call the Institute for more information.

Congressional Interns in Washington to Continue Their Studies in Prestigious Panetta Internship Program

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Former presidential advisor David Gergen joined Secretary Panetta to address interns at the Institute in August

Participants in the seventeenth annual Congressional Internship Program are at work in Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. after two weeks of intensive training at the Panetta Institute in August.

Interns work full-time for eleven weeks in the Democratic and Republican congressional offices of the California delegation. Their daily tasks may range from speaking with constituents and opening mail to conducting tours of the Capitol and attending hearings.

Participants also attend weekly seminars in Washington held exclusively for them by the Institute. These seminars are led by Republican and Democratic members of Congress, top government officials and experts in a variety of fields, from the federal budget to healthcare and from immigration to foreign policy.

This year, interns witnessed some historic Congressional debates, specifically surrounding President Barack Obama’s proposed nuclear agreement with Iran, as well as domestic policy debates such as the potential de-funding of Planned Parenthood. And, the interns were present to witness first-hand the grandeur and ceremony surrounding Pope Francis’ speech to Congress.

“We are proud that our program has earned the reputation of being one of the finest internship programs in the nation,” says Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

To earn that reputation, the Institute prepares interns from twenty three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University, by conducting extensive educational programs at the Institute, and then following up with the unique seminars in Washington that supplement their on-the-job internships.

The program got underway in August at the Institute. Former Vice President Dan Quayle, political commentator David Gergen and Washington Post correspondent Dan Balz were among the many experts joining Secretary Leon E. Panetta in speaking to and meeting with the class of 2015 interns during the two-week orientation.

In total, thirty-seven political and government leaders shared their knowledge and experience as part of the extensive educational programs coordinated by the Panetta Institute staff.

Former Vice President Dan Quayle

Former Vice President Dan Quayle

The preparatory classes at the Institute began with Secretary Panetta discussing the founding and creation of the American republic followed by sessions dedicated to Congress, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Presidency, the economy and budget policymaking, cybersecurity and national defense, as well as media and campaign financing. The course work also included programs focusing on policy issues as well as how congressional office-holders coordinate their work with state and local governments and constituents.

“These are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia M. Panetta. “The program helps prepare them right now to find ways to contribute to the public good.”

Read more in a recent editorial in the Monterey Herald.

Institute Fellows Focus on Creation of a National Service Program

Three law-school students from the Santa Clara University School of Law have embarked on a research project studying the possible creation and implementation of a national service program for young people, an issue raised by a recent Panetta Institute poll of college students across the United States.

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.

Sixty-three percent of college students polled 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.

The law students are participants in the Panetta Institute’s Policy Research Fellows Program, a course of study created in 2006 in which second- and third-year law students work on site at the  Institute, gaining first-hand experience and instruction in policy research and assisting with analysis on issues relevant to the Institute’s work and mission.

This year, fellows are focusing not only on what a national service program might entail, but also on the practicality of how it might be introduced and passed as law by Congress. They are also exploring ideas currently under discussion, including one being examined by the McChrystal Group headed by General Stanley McChrystal at the Aspen Institute.

Fellows are reviewing historical precedents, including the history of the military draft as well as New Deal programs established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1930s. They are studying successful programs like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Corps and also the history of national programs that exist in other countries.

In addition, program participants are considering the economic viability of national service programs, focusing on the costs of such a national program as well as the benefits.

The idea of a national service program 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.”

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 also are conducting research in support of other Institute programs, including  the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards, An Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service, scheduled for November 14, 2015.

Fellows work under the direction of Panetta Institute staff and attorneys. Following completion of the program, fellows 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.

Secretary Panetta’s Memoir, Worthy Fights, Released in Paperback

Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s best-selling memoir, Worthy Fights, was released in paperback on September 15, 2015.

The book remains one of the most-discussed books of the last year, with its account not only of Secretary Panetta’s insights into current foreign affairs, but also his recollections of his more than fifty years of public service.

Worthy Fights is an overview of Secretary Panetta’s values, which he describes at length. He makes the case that political leadership should be more about serving the public than about partisan battles, and how integrity is indispensable to a successful political career.

The memoir begins with his formative childhood years and then his service as an Army intelligence officer, continuing through his time as an aide to California Senator Tom Kuchel, a controversial tenure in President Nixon’s Department of Health, Education and Welfare and a stint as a staffer with New York Mayor John Lindsay.

The book then examines Secretary Panetta’s return to Washington, D.C., where he served for sixteen years in Congress, followed by major leadership positions: director of the Office of Management and Budget, White House Chief of Staff, director of the CIA and ultimately as Secretary of Defense.

The memoir also details how Secretary Panetta and his wife Sylvia founded The Panetta Institute for Public Policy as part of their ongoing belief in the value of public service.

Worthy Fights is a blueprint for effective leadership in the public arena, with real-world examples of how a public servant can be a successful advocate without losing his or her commitment to the principles of plain-spoken values and integrity. It can be purchased at local bookstores or at

Institute Hosts 2015 Student Leadership Program, Focusing on Practical Lessons on How to Lead on Campus and in Public Service


Courtesy KSBW-TV8

A celebrated program for student body presidents and other elected student body officers from the California State University system and three private universities completed its sixteenth annual session at the Panetta Institute on June 20.

The diverse group of student leaders spent eight days at the Institute for the comprehensive program, learning from experts in a variety of fields. An impressive list of leaders shared their experiences and their strategies for success with program participants.

Entitled Education for Leadership in Public Service, the program features 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.

“Partisan politics have brought Washington to a standstill,” explained Institute chairman Leon E. Panetta. “The future of our democracy depends on our leaders’ abilities to come together and govern. At the Panetta Institute, we believe this kind of change can come about by inspiring a new generation of leaders to become involved in public service and to lead in a manner that emphasizes common sense governance, compromise, consensus and coalition building. The Leadership Seminar is designed to teach young leaders these skills and inspire them to consider greater participation in our democracy at the local, state and national level. The course builds the foundation not only for campus leadership, but also for their future participation in our democracy and for their future public service careers.”

This year’s program included twenty-two panel and individual sessions featuring thirty-eight speakers.

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.

One student at the 2014 leadership program, Anaisy Tolentino of Santa Clara University, commented: “Thank you for fostering a renewed sense of hope for our country, strengthening my desire to serve it, and giving me the tools to do so. While only twenty-eight people sat in that classroom, the magnitude of the Panetta Institute’s ripple effect will undoubtedly be felt across many communities.”

Successful Leon Panetta 2015 Lecture Series Concludes; Record Number of Students Take Part in Program

The widely acclaimed Leon Panetta 2015 Lecture Series concluded its eighteenth season June 1 after four sold-out events that brought nationally known speakers to Monterey, giving local residents and students the opportunity to ponder critical viewpoints as well as possible solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

All four lectures were sold out, and the unique Afternoon Student Program attracted a record number of more than 1,000 students from students from Central Coast, Santa Clara Valley and North Bay Area high schools, community colleges, universities and military institutions.

student afternoon program

More than 1,000 students participated in the Afternoon Student Program in 2015.

“Our student program is at the very core of our mission to help young people expand their knowledge of the issues that will face them in the years to come and to help prepare them with the skills they will need to play a role in finding solutions,” said Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “We are encouraged that a record number of students attended this year.”

All four lectures were moderated by Secretary Panetta, whose focus was again on presenting bipartisan ideas to move the nation forward.  “Our country faces a series of critical choices that are as deeply important to the fate of our nation as they are divisive. How can we come together on vital issues? Our action on these critical issues will determine whether America in the near future enters the 21st century in an age of renaissance, or descends into a period of decline.”

Lectures in this year’s Leon Panetta Lecture Series focused on energy, race relations, the economy and cyber. For a complete list of speakers, click here.

In addition to the live theater audience and the Afternoon Student Program, the events are also broadcast live on television throughout California, and our rebroadcast several times in the days and weeks following the lectures.

Panetta Institute Releases Results of 2015 Student Poll; Findings Show College Students Supportive of National Service in Exchange for Financial Aid and are More Focused on International Issues

The Panetta Institute has released the results of its annual poll of United States college students and for the first time findings show a large majority (63 percent) would be interested in a program that would provide grants or financial assistance to help pay for college in exchange for two years of national service.

Institute Chairman Secretary Leon E. Panetta described the 2015 results as a “hopeful indication that the ‘me generation’ is becoming the ‘us generation’.”

The heightened interest in public service seen in survey extends to electoral politics as well with 32 percent of students saying they would consider running for federal office if given the opportunity and 36 percent saying they would be interested in state or local elected office.

Students also expressed a desire for the United States to take a greater leadership role in foreign affairs.

The findings come from a study the Panetta Institute has commissioned in the spring since 1999, looking at U.S. college students’ views and attitudes on subjects ranging from their political preferences to their personal economic prospects to interest in public service, along with a variety of domestic and international policy issues

Other topics covered in the 2015 survey include sexual assault on college campuses, views on energy policy, the threat of terrorism and projections on the 2015 presidential contest.

For more on the latest Panetta Institute for Public Policy’s National Survey, click here.

Assembly Aide Describes Internship’s Role in His Path to Public Service

Assembly aide Paul Ramey

Assembly aide Paul Ramey

Paul Ramey, a participant in the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program in 2012,  is a legislative aide to state Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), and he credits his success to the training he received at the program.

“Thanks to your program, I was afforded an opportunity to work in the halls of our nation’s Capitol and received world-class training that I never would have received otherwise. The experience I gained in one semester in Washington, D.C. prepared me for my career in ways I never thought possible.”

Mr. Ramey described how he set aside his original plan for a career in finance as a result of his internship. After returning from Washington and graduating from Sonoma State University, he served as campaign manager for Assemblyman Wood and later joined him in his Sacramento office as a communications officer.

“Without the opportunities afforded to me by the Panetta Institute I would not be in the position I am today.”

Secretary Panetta’s Portrait Unveiled at Pentagon Ceremony

hrs_Panetta DoD PortraitSecretary Panetta was honored at the Pentagon on April 16 by the unveiling of his official portrait as the twenty third Secretary of Defense. The current Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, joined Secretary Panetta for the ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard.

Secretary Panetta was joined by Secretary Carter on stage, as well as Secretary Panetta’s golden retriever Bravo, who sits beside him in the DoD portrait. Secretary Panetta served as Defense Secretary from July 2011 to February 2013; he previously served as CIA director from 2009 to 2011.

Secretary Panetta’s portrait  was painted by Stephen Craighead and will hang in the Secretary of Defense corridor.

At the ceremony, Secretary Carter, who had served as Secretary Panetta’s deputy in the Defense Department, said “Today we recognize the affable son of Italian immigrants who has done so much to secure the American dream for so many, for so long.” He called Secretary Panetta “an American whose service to this country spanned more than forty years, in roles from soldier to statesman, and a Secretary of Defense who led DoD at a time of great change for our military, the United States and the world.”

During Secretary Panetta’s tenure, Secretary Carter said, the former secretary helped end the Iraq War, began the drawdown in Afghanistan “and continued to hand al-Qaida debilitating losses, following on his signature achievement at CIA — the raid that brought an end to Osama bin Laden.” Secretary Carter also noted how Secretary Panetta recognized the contributions of women, gays and lesbians to the nation’s security, and helped make the military more respectful and inclusive. Panetta completed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“And in one of his final acts in office,” Secretary Carter added, “he lifted DoD’s combat ban on women.”

In his remarks, Secretary Panetta said, “I will be honored to have my portrait (alongside those of) all the former secretaries who served here at the Department. And I’d like to think that as people walk by those portraits and see … the serious faces that go with a very serious job, maybe when they come to my portrait and they look at Bravo, a smile might cross their face — in a town where they don’t give a hell of a lot of smiles.”

He added, “In a very troubled world, where we’re dealing with so many flashpoints and so many crises and difficult challenges … we can all smile with confidence that we have the strongest and most capable military on the face of the earth, and that whatever mission they’re asked to do, they will accomplish that mission.”

Secretary Panetta Receives Prestigious Dwight D. Eisenhower Award

imagesFormer Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta was honored April 15 as the recipient of the 2015 Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the National Defense Industrial Association in Washington, D.C.

The award is presented annually to leaders who “best reflect President Eisenhower’s beliefs and support for a strong national security and industrial base as well as unwavering support to those who wear the uniform of the United States,” said Major General Arnold Punaro, USMC Ret., chairman of the Association’s board. The award was presented at the Association’s annual awards dinner in Tysons Corner, Virginia,

Secretary Panetta receives the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from NDIA Chairman Arnold Punaro (left) and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Vice Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld

Secretary Panetta receives the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from NDIA Chairman Arnold Punaro (left) and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Vice Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld

“I am  honored to receive the Eisenhower Award,” Secretary Panetta said. “The portraits of Eisenhower and George C. Marshall hung above my desk when I was Secretary.”

In a speech at the awards dinner, Secretary Panetta criticized ongoing gridlock in Washington and said that political dysfunction at home remains a threat to the national defense.

“This country ought to be unified in terms of what kind of authority do we want to provide the president of the United States in order to confront an enemy,” Secretary Panetta said. “To not be able to do that sends a hell of a message to the world.”

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Award is given annually to an American citizen who has made an outstanding contribution toward increasing public awareness of our national defense needs.

Past recipients include former President George Herbert Walker Bush, General Colin Powell, and United States Senators Sam Nunn and Barry Goldwater.

Veteran Pacific Grove High School Educator Honored by Panetta Institute

Lillian Griffiths, a longtime teacher and social sciences department chair at Pacific Grove High School, was presented with the Panetta Institute Champion Award June 1 for her tireless involvement in the Leon Panetta Lecture Series Afternoon Student Program.

Ms. Griffiths has began her teaching career at Pacific Grove High in 1980, and has been active in supporting the student program since its inception by incorporating it into her government studies and history lesson plans. She has said of the program, “Students make connections with government that they cannot make in a classroom setting. The openness of the speakers and the questions coming from the students are a joy to behold.”

Explaining the decision to honor Ms. Griffiths, Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta said, “She is a committed educator who deeply understands that our children are our future and that the best interests of our nation and our democracy are served when we provide avenues for our youth to engage and to achieve. In the past five years alone, she has brought more than 125 students to the lectures. She makes sure her students are prepared on the subject, and she always makes sure that her students write thoughtful, eloquent thank-you letters to the sponsors who provide financial support for the student program.”

Ms. Griffiths was a student at Pacific Grove High before attending San Francisco State University and returning to her alma mater to teach. She announced her retirement this year after serving at the school for thirty five years.

Panetta Institute Education Programs Honored by Association of California School Administrators

The Panetta Institute received the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 10’s Partners in Educational Excellence Award for 2014-2015 for two of its educational programs.

The Institute was honored for both the Monterey County Reads program and the Leon Panetta Lecture Series Afternoon Student Program.

In announcing the award, the ACSA said that the Panetta Institute “has enabled our students to read with local volunteers as well as learn firsthand from national and international leaders about pressing issues in our society and economy today. We deeply appreciate the tremendous contributions your organization has provided to the education of the youth in our region.”

ACSA is the largest umbrella organization for school administrators in the nation, serving more than 14,500 school leaders. It was formed in 1971, and consists of regions within California, offering a variety of resources for development by school district administrators.

The ACSA award was presented on May 1 at the group’s Spring Fling Dinner and Awards event at San Juan Oaks Golf Club in Hollister.

Monterey County Reads Volunteer Honored With Jefferson Award

Luisa Alves volunteers in the Monterey County Reads program.

Luisa Alves volunteers in the Monterey County Reads program.

Luisa Alves, a recently graduated Monterey High School student whose service in the school’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) includes volunteering in the Panetta Institute’s Monterey County Reads program, has been honored with the KSBW-TV8 Jefferson Award for her commitment to helping others.

Ms. Alves was one of six individuals honored. A native of Argentina, English is not her primary language, but her love of reading led her to read every week to elementary school children who are at risk of falling behind.

“I love reading,” said Ms. Alves. “When I was a kid my parents would read to me. They really empowered me to read. Helping other kids do the same is rewarding.” She also volunteers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium teaching visitors about the ecology of the Monterey Bay.

A cadet/petty officer third class at the Navy Junior ROTC Program at Monterey High, Ms. Alves is also enrolled in the Monterey Academy of oceanographic studies and takes college courses at Brigham Young University, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

She was nominated by Monterey High School’s JROTC instructors Commander Paul Tanks USN (Ret) and Master Sergeant David Duffield USMC (Ret). Master Sergeant Duffield said, “Seeing young ladies like her gives you hope for the future of the world.”

The Jefferson Awards is a nationwide program that has 110 media partners in approximately seventy communities across the country. KSBW-TV8 is among major local newspapers, television and radio stations that honor local volunteers.

Panetta Institute Calls for More Community Volunteers in Literacy Initiative

The Panetta Institute is reaching out to the business community for its help in volunteering for the Panetta Institute’s longest-running program, Monterey County Reads.

“By committing to just one hour 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 Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta.

rhonda_reading_to_boyResearch shows that raising the reading level for children by the end of third grade can permanently improve their learning skills, as well as make a difference in achieving success as adults.

“That’s why the business community has become an enthusiastic partner in our efforts,” added Mrs. Panetta. “They understand that by offering help 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.”

Employees from Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital are among those from the business world who have joined in volunteering for Monterey County Reads, participating along with high-school and college students, military personnel, retirees, parents and members of religious and service organizations.

“The need is now — more than ever before,” said Mrs. Panetta. “The mark of a successful program is that we continue to need new volunteers.”

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.

Now in 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.”

In May, Monterey County Reads, along with the Leon Panetta Lecture Series student program, was selected to receive the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 10’s Partners in Educational Excellence Award for 2014-2015.

For more information about volunteering or helping the program through a donation, please call the Panetta Institute

Click here to learn more about this program and how you can help.

Secretary Panetta Tells ‘60 Minutes’ That Battle Against Terrorists Will Be a Long-Term Commitment

Former Defense Secretary Panetta said that arming moderate Syrian rebels "would have helped."

Former Defense Secretary Panetta said that arming moderate Syrian rebels “would have helped.”

Former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta appeared on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on September 21, 2014 to explain that the United States’ battle against the extremist group ISIS will not be finished anytime soon.

CBS News Anchor Scott Pelley asked Secretary Panetta how long it might take to destroy ISIS. Secretary Panetta said, “I think it’s going to take a long time. And, I think the American people need to know it’s going to take a long time.”

The interview with Secretary Panetta was one segment of an in-depth look at territorial gains made by ISIS, as well as graphic scenes depicting the horrors that have been inflicted on the people of Iraq and Syria.

The 60 Minutes interview also gave a glimpse into Secretary Panetta’s book, Worthy Fights, in which the Secretary writes that he, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CIA Director David H. Petraeus and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey all urged President Barack Obama to arm moderate Syrians who had started a revolution against dictator Bashar al-Assad.

“The real key was how could we develop a leadership group among the opposition that would be able to take control,” said Secretary Panetta. “And my view was, to have leverage to do that, we would have to provide the weapons and the training in order for them to really be willing to work with us in that effort.”

imagesSecretary Panetta discussed the president’s decision not to intervene, saying: “I think the president’s concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn’t know where those weapons would wind up. My view was: You have to begin somewhere.”

Asked whether arming rebels would have been effective, Secretary Panetta said: “I think that would have helped. And I think in part, we paid the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS.”

In the interview, Mr. Pelley also asked Secretary Panetta about unrest in Iraq and the pullout of American troops in 2011. “It’s a tragic story,” he said. Rather than leaving Iraq, “I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq. The decision was that we ought to at least try to maintain 8,000 to 10,000 U.S. troops there, plus keeping some of our intelligence personnel in place, to be able to continue the momentum in the right direction. And frankly, having those troops there, I think would’ve given us greater leverage on (former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) to try to force him to do the right thing as well.”

Prime Minister Maliki, Secretary Panetta said, “had the opportunity to kind of hold all of this together. (But he) just turned on the Sunnis, fed into the historical sectarian divisions that have marred that country for centuries. And basically undercut and undermined the security force in Iraq and created, I think, the very ingredients that led to what we see today in Iraq.”

Secretary Panetta concluded: “We gave (Iraq) a chance. I mean, you know, nobody can guarantee that Iraq would be able to go in the right direction. But we gave them a chance. We gave them the tools. But instead, he turned to vengeance. And vengeance never pays off.”

Department of Interior Aide Recalls How Congressional Internship Program Led to His Career in Washington

Steven Avila and President Obama

Steven Avila and President Obama

Steven Avila, a former participant in the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program, is now a special assistant in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the United States Department of the Interior. And he credits both the Panetta Institute and California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) for giving him this “incredible opportunity.”

Writing for the online website CSU Voices and Views, Mr. Avila tells how as a new student at CSUMB, he received information in his student mailbox about the Institute’s Congressional Internship Program that “changed my life forever.”

Every year, the program sends one student from each of the twenty three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University to Washington, D.C. to intern with a member of Congress from the California delegation.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is an unbelievable opportunity, too bad I don’t have a chance’,” Mr. Avila recalled.

“But one application, several group interviews, and some essays later, I was selected to represent CSUMB in the 2010 Panetta Internship class,” he continued. “It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Working on Capitol Hill, living in Washington and being surrounded by the most dedicated, hard-working people I had ever met confirmed to me that I had to dedicate my life to public service.”

After returning to CSUMB his senior year, he applied to the White House Internship Program. After graduation, he was offered a job within the Obama administration as a senior analyst in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. After two years at the White House, he was hired at the Department of the Interior.

“Despite all its dysfunction, Washington is a wonderful place to meet brilliant people attempting to do some pretty amazing things,” said Mr. Avila. “We are all driven by different interests, but by working together on behalf of our fellow citizens, we can truly make this country the best that it can be.”

He added: “I never would have been on this path had it not been for my internships and the education I received while at CSUMB. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have had, and I will never forget them, but I am even more excited to see what is in store for the future.”

Institute Professor Honored With Monterey Peninsula College Foundation President’s Award

Dr. Kezirian, left, with MPC President Dr.Walter Trimbley

Dr. Kezirian, left, with MPC President Dr.Walter Trimbley

Dr. Richard Kezirian, senior program coordinator and professor at the Panetta Institute, has been named as the honoree of the Monterey Peninsula College Foundation President’s Award for 2014.

He was recognized at the eighth annual President’s Address to the Community. Dr. Walter Tribley, superintendent/president of Monterey Peninsula College, presented a “State of the College” address highlighting the college’s successes and future plans at the event.

The program included the presentation of the President’s Award to Dr. Kezirian, in honor of his contributions to the community, as well as helping the college’s mission of providing educational opportunities to all. The event was held at the Monterey Conference Center.

At the Institute, Dr. Kezirian teaches and moderates Institute classes and conducts research for courses. As part of the Leon Panetta Lecture Series, Dr. Kezirian leads mid-week seminars for selected students and presents lectures during the afternoon student program for high school and university students. He also helps coordinate the Congressional Internship Program and Leadership Seminar and serves as moderator for classes in these programs as well as teaching some of the individual seminars.

Dr. Kezirian began his teaching career at MPC in 1971. He has also taught at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and the Naval Postgraduate School. Now professor emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College, he is the author of American History: Major Controversies Reviewed, a textbook that has been used at numerous colleges and universities. He has also written op-ed articles for many California newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union, Fresno Bee and Monterey County Herald.

He was the recipient of the 1986 Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching  awarded by the Community Foundation for Monterey County and a three-time winner of the Monterey Peninsula College Honor Society’s Teacher of the Year Award. Dr. Kezirian earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, all in the study of history, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Monterey Peninsula College Foundation President’s Award was established in 2007 and awarded at the first annual President’s Address to the Community. From 2007 until 2013, seven awards have been given to outstanding individuals who are committed to education and have worked to further the interests of the college and the communities served by Monterey Peninsula College.

The selection committee is made up of recipients of the President’s Award, the executive director of the Monterey Peninsula College Foundation, and the superintendent/president.

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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