Tickets Available for June 27 Lecture on Changing Society, Technology and Media as Leon Panetta 2016 Lecture Series Concludes

Tickets are now available for the fourth and final event in the Leon Panetta 2016 Lecture Series, to be held Monday, June 27, at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel. The theme for this year’s Lecture Series is An America in Renaissance or Decline? The Challenges Facing a New President.

Woodruff, JudyKurtz, HowardKoppel, TedChanging Society, Technology and Media will be the topic when Secretary Panetta is joined by Ted Koppel, former anchor of ABC News’ NightlineHoward Kurtz, host of FOX News’ Media Buzz; and Judy Woodruff, co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour. The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m.

“Information and knowledge are power. Today, more than ever, information is controlled by technology and the media,” remarked Secretary Leon E. Panetta. “We have access to more information than ever before and we can share it and react to it at remarkable speed. How will the next president communicate with the American people? What is the impact of this new pace and volume on politics, business, socialization, productivity and privacy? Is faster communication bringing us closer together or further apart? How has social media changed the way candidates run for office and how they communicate with the public? Does social media make humanity more engaged or does it simply expedite the trend of polarization? I’ll pose these questions to three of the nation’s most respected journalists.”

The live, ticketed evening lectures, which are also televised throughout California, are being held in Carmel while the Monterey Conference Center, the long-time site of the lecture series, undergoes renovation.

For a complete listing of dates and speakers, click here.

All tickets are sold in advance and are not available for sale at the Sunset Cultural Center. They can be purchased by calling the Panetta Institute at 831-582-4200.

Students Leaders From Across the State Complete 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.

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.”

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.

Sylvia Panetta Honored at CSUMB Commencement Ceremony

3766-200x300Panetta 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.

19878816004_39c8dbf085_z“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; Additional Volunteers Now Being Sought

Newly released data regarding the impact of Monterey County Reads on young students reveals that the program has been successful in its mission to improve literacy as a pathway to helping young people reaching success.

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 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.”

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 Ruby Soto’s class at Boronda Meadows Elementary School in Salinas.

A highlight of the program for students and volunteers alike comes at the end of each session when the students receive a favorite book of their very own, presented courtesy of Monterey County Reads and its sponsors. This year, more than 850 students received books.

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, the Monterey Peninsula, reaching down to Soledad and Greenfield to the south and east to Salinas.

“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 will be available for live viewing, and the videos will remain on the YouTube site after each lecture’s conclusion as well.

Lectures also will continue to be 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 are focused on the theme, An America in Renaissance or Decline? The Challenges Facing a New President, and are held at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel. Dates for the 2016 season are 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

Selection Interviews Held for Nominees in Prestigious Panetta Internship Program

Prospective participants in the eighteenth annual Congressional Internship Program arrived at The Panetta Institute for Public Policy in late March for interviews with Panetta Institute staff and a representative of the California State University system’s Chancellor’s Office as part of the final selection process for the program.

Unknown-3Qualified students with high academic achievement and an interest in public service from twenty-five campuses are vying for the opportunity to be part of the 2016 intern class and serve for eleven weeks in the Washington offices of the California congressional delegation.

Each intern is nominated by the president of his or her campus. This includes the twenty three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University.

After the interview process concludes, selected interns start their studies with an intensive two-week preparation at the Panetta Institute in August. “We are proud that our program has earned the reputation of being one of the finest internship programs in the nation,” stated Secretary Leon E. Panetta. “This is due to the thorough preparation we provide our students before they depart for Washington, D.C., as well as the support and instruction we give them while they are serving in their respective offices.”

When in Washington, interns work full-time in their assigned congressional offices. Their workdays include answering constituent phone calls, conducting tours of the Capitol, and attending hearings and meetings on behalf of the congressional office where they serve.

An intern from 2015, N’dea Moore-Petinak, spoke of her experience and how she witnessed an event of historic proportions: “Being an intern on Capitol Hill during the Congressional vote on the Iran nuclear deal was an incredible, historic and life-changing experience. I am grateful to have witnessed the debate of what many have called one of the most important foreign-affairs agreements in the history of the modern world.”

In addition to their daily tasks, interns also attend weekly seminars 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.

High praise has come from Capitol Hill for the program. Enrique Gutierrez, intern coordinator for Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) said: “The Panetta Institute has perhaps the best program in preparing young interns to help congressional offices and members. They come prepared to work by knowing the political/policy landscape and knowing the Hill environment.”

Students in the program agree that the scope of the classes and the internship itself was a turning point in their lives. “This internship experience has been unparalleled to anything I have done in my lifetime,” said Otto Lange, a 2014 participant from San Diego State University. “Witnessing government function behind the cameras was educational, and should be something every American should strive to experience.”

“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.”

Monterey County Reads Expands in Soledad Elementary Schools

Two groups of students from Soledad High School have helped expand the Panetta Institute’s award-winning Monterey County Reads program this 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) have augmented their volunteer programs by joining in the Monterey County Reads effort.

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

“The commitment by these student volunteers has 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 are helping others in the most direct and effective way possible, by giving their time to help children obtain vital literacy skills.”

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.”

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. 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 the college’s latest 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 this winter 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.

Monterey County Reads Featured in Program Hosted by the League of Women Voters

The success of the Panetta Institute’s Monterey County Reads program was on display at the monthly “Lunch and Learn” program of the League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula November 11 with two representatives of the Institute describing how the program has changed the lives of first-, second- and third-grade students.

The Panetta Institute’s Tyler Crocker and Donna Bessant appeared alongside representatives of two other literacy programs that also are working toward the goal of raising the literacy rate for all in Monterey County.

“We feel that if children are able to get that one-to-one attention for at least six hours a semester, their growth in reading excels,” said Mr. Crocker. Ms. Bessant added, “The bottom line, of course, is that we have children who read better.”

Also appearing at the luncheon event were Cathy Andrews, Monterey County Free Libraries Literacy Program Coordinator and Len Foster of the Literacy Campaign sponsored by the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

Here is a video of the program:


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.

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 at the event 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.

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.

Contact Us

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

Phone 831-582-4200
Fax 831-582-4082

When using e-mail or fax, please be sure to provide your name, USPS mailing address, and your day and evening telephone number.