Twentieth Anniversary of the Leon Panetta 2017 Lecture Series Concludes with an In-Depth Look at World Affairs

Secretary Leon E. Panetta

The twentieth anniversary of the Leon Panetta 2017 Lecture Series concluded on Monday, June 5 with an examination of The World — Terrorism, Russia, China, Populism and Cyber, featuring former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and former secretary of defense Ash Carter joining Secretary Panetta in the discussion.

The theme for the series was The Trump Presidency and the Future of America, with Secretary Panetta hosting nationally known political and policy experts at four separate events at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel.

The first three forums focused on The Affordable Care Act — Repeal, Replace or Gridlock? (March 6); The Economy — Trade, Jobs, Taxes and Immigration (April 3); and Our Democracy — Parties, Politics and Governing (May 29).

Speakers included former governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal; former deputy assistant to the president for health policy Chris Jennings; former chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina; former labor secretary Robert Reich; former chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile; CNN senior political analyst and political advisor David Gergen; Weekly Standard founder and editor-at-large Bill Kristol, in addition to Secretary Rice and Secretary Carter.

For a complete schedule and speaker biographies, click here.

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

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

For information on season tickets for the 2018 lectures, call the Institute at 831-582-4200.

Students Leaders From Across the State Participate in 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 conducted its eighteenth annual session at the Panetta Institute from June 11 to June 18.

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

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

While each arena of leadership varied in focus, the students learned overarching lessons applicable to all types of leadership and gained an understanding of the commonalities involved in the various fields of leadership.

“Our recent national poll reveals college students as potentially a major force in American politics – paying attention and waiting to be inspired and activated,” said 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 will spend eight days showing student leaders diverse aspects of leadership from people who know how to lead.”

Secretary Panetta was among the speakers and discussion leaders at the Leadership Seminar. Other featured presenters included former United States Representative Sam Farr. For the third year, the Leadership Seminar offered a seminar on cyber-security taught by professor and cyber-expert John Arquilla. Other speakers included other government and business leaders, as well as legal, military, education and grass-roots organization experts.

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.

Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta said, “Speakers in the program offer inspiration as well as practical steps that the students can take now and in the future to make a difference not only in their lives, but in the lives of others.”

Secretary Panetta Tells CBS News That Comey Meeting Was a ‘Serious Breach’

Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on the CBS Evening News on June 8 and told Anchor Scott Pelley that President Trump’s private meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey was “a serious breach” in presidential protocol.

Secretary Panetta: “A serious lapse in terms of good discipline.”

“Somebody in the room should have made clear that the president ought not to be alone with the director of the FBI and obviously no one did and I think that was a serious lapse in terms of good discipline at the White House,” Secretary Panetta said.

When Mr. Pelley asked why the president should not be alone with the director of the FBI, Secretary Panetta responded, “The director of the FBI is conducting investigations into national security issues and the president should not be viewed as trying to in any way influence those kinds of investigations. The approach in the past with other presidents has been to make very sure that the president does not have that kind of one-on-one discussion with the director of the FBI, particularly when the director is conducting a very sensitive investigation. That just is not done.”

Asked whether he saw any evidence that would indicate obstruction of justice, Secretary Panetta said, “The testimony by Director Comey raised, at least, a pattern in the meetings and discussions with the director, that raises the issue of whether or not he was trying to influence or obstruct that investigation. That will be the subject, I think, of the special counsel’s investigation.”

Leon Panetta 2017 Lecture Series Final Event Focused on the Future of America’s Role in the World

Ash Carter

Condoleezza Rice

Speakers at the fourth and final forum of the twentieth annual Leon Panetta 2017 Lecture Series on Monday, June 5 focused on The World — Terrorism, Russia, China, Populism and Cyber, saying that the United States faces a world with many potential flashpoints.

Joining moderator Secretary Leon E. Panetta was Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005-2009); and Ash Carter, Secretary of Defense (2015-2017). Secretaries Rice and Carter discussed President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate agreement, the president’s proposed travel ban, terrorism, peace in the Middle East and relations with Russia, China and North Korea.

With regard to the United States’ role in the world, Secretary Rice said, “The United States is doomed to leadership and we can’t do anything about it.” Pointing out that the United States has served as an international leader since World War II, she said “What a run the last seventy years have been.”

Secretary Carter agreed. “We sometimes speak about American leadership as if it’s a favor to others,” he said. “It is a great practical value to have friends and allies around the world.”

The event was the last of four lectures in this year’s series, whose theme was The Trump Presidency and the Future of America.

Secretary Rice is a pioneer in foreign policy and global affairs. She held several positions on President George H.W. Bush’s staff, including senior director of Soviet and East European Affairs and special assistant to the president for national security affairs. She first joined the administration of President George W. Bush in 2001 as assistant to the president for national security affairs (national security advisor). The first woman to hold the position, she served in that capacity until 2005 when she was confirmed as the sixty-sixth secretary of state of the United States.

Secretary Carter served as assistant secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1996. In this capacity he was responsible for, among other issues, strategic affairs and nuclear weapons policy. From 2011 to 2013, Secretary Carter served President Barack Obama as deputy secretary of defense. As the twenty-fifth secretary of defense from 2015 through 2017, Secretary Carter became known for his leadership and creativity.

For information about season tickets to the 2018 Leon Panetta Lecture Series, call the Institute at 831-582-4200.

Panetta Institute Survey Finds College Students Deeply Dissatisfied with Political Leaders, Yet More Politically Attentive

In its latest nationwide survey of college students, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy has found a dramatic decline in satisfaction on campus with America’s political leaders, and yet a significant increase in students’ belief that political decisions are relevant to their lives.

Satisfaction with “the quality of the country’s political leadership” has plummeted from 48 percent in the Institute’s survey in April of last year to 29 percent today, while the perceived relevance of politics to students has risen from 59 percent to 69 percent.

President Donald Trump receives a job approval rating of only 28 percent among college students, compared to 75 percent for Barack Obama at this point in his presidency. And yet, by nearly two to one (44 percent to 23 percent), students say Trump’s election has made them more rather than less interested in being involved in politics.

“There’s something going on here that both major parties would be wise to follow up on,” says Institute chairman Leon E. Panetta. Based on the survey’s findings, the former U.S. secretary of defense sees college students as “potentially a major force in American politics – paying attention and waiting to be inspired and activated.”

Today’s college students take the most pessimistic view of the direction of the country in the Panetta survey’s seventeen-year history. Three out of five students (61 percent) say the country is “off on the wrong track” – an increase from 55 percent in 2016.

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 802 students at four-year colleges across the country from April 27 to May 2. A more extensive summary of the study’s findings is linked here.

Storybooks Distributed to Students as Monterey County Reads Marks its Twentieth Year

Storybooks are prepared for distribution by the Panetta Institute’s Geana Ruiz and Tyler Crocker.

Nearly 1,000 books have been distributed to children participating in the twentieth year of the Monterey County Reads, the Panetta Institute’s award-winning program that has enlisted the countywide support of thousands of volunteers committed to fighting illiteracy in Monterey County.

As the school year winds down, the storybooks are distributed in recognition of students’ efforts in reading improvement. Monterey County Reads serves ten school districts throughout Monterey County.

“For some children, these books will become part of a new library that can literally change their lives,” said Chris Haubert, Panetta Institute chief of staff and programs. “Statistics show that literacy can be the biggest single factor in helping to lead a child to success in school.”

“Monterey County Reads has been a vital resource in helping our struggling readers to have more one-to-one time and individualized feedback from a competent volunteer. The students (and teachers) look forward to Monterey County Reads volunteers coming each week. The volunteers are enthusiastic and dedicated. Students understand why literacy is so important when they see parents and community members volunteering their time and effort towards a student learning to read.

–Linda Williams, Principal,
Robert Down Elementary School, Pacific Grove

The cumulative numbers of storybooks distributed in Monterey County Reads‘ twenty-year history demonstrates the breadth of this program. In that time, more than 17,000 books have been distributed to the children participating in the program.

This program especially addresses the needs of the lower socio-economic level of Monterey County’s population with a focus on Spanish-speaking and other ethnic minorities.

During the past school year, the Institute continued to broaden its focus on community volunteers; this year 210 volunteers participated. Reaching out to more community organizations has had a positive ripple effect. Community members typically belong to more than one organization, and when Panetta Institute staff recruits from one group, interested members often spread the word to other organizations. The Panetta Institute has also extended its reach in the Salinas area of Monterey County where there is a great literacy need.

Secretary Panetta Tells Santa Clara University School of Law Graduates About the Importance of the Rule of Law

Secretary Panetta was the featured speaker at Santa Clara University School of Law’s commencement ceremony May 20 at the university, telling graduates that democracy will mean nothing if Americans aren’t willing to fight for the rule of law.

Secretary Panetta addressed the more than 180 graduates and their family and friends. He said America could go one of two ways: an “America in renaissance” — building on our technological and defense leadership — or “America in decline,” careening from crisis to crisis.

Secretary Panetta: “We are a nation that builds bridges, not walls.”

“The story of the last election was the story of lost trust, angry voters who felt that no one in Washington, no political party, was working to deal with the problems they were facing,” Secretary Panetta said. He added that such divisions are surmountable, but “you cannot be a good leader or a good citizen if you do not respect our Constitution and the institutions responsible for enforcing the requirements of that sacred document.”

Secretary Panetta told how his immigrant parents traveled thousands of miles from Italy to the United States to give their children a better life. “We are a nation that builds bridges, not walls,” he said. “And most of all, we need to respect the truth.”

Secretary Panetta told a story of when he was CIA director and met the families of seven CIA employees killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2009. He said he gave each family a plaque with a biblical verse from Isaiah: “Whom shall I send? … Here I am Lord. Send me.”

“That, ladies and gentlemen,” said Secretary Panetta, “is the sound of the trumpet that must summon all of us to action.”

During his speech, Secretary Panetta said law students who work with the Panetta Institute learn “what it takes to find consensus on issues, which is heart and soul of the legislative process, and frankly has become a lost art in Washington.”

For a transcript of Secretary Panetta’s speech, click here.

Military Needs Change to Attract Personnel, Secretary Panetta and Former Republican Senator Jim Talent Write in The Wall Street Journal

Senator Jim Talent

Secretary Panetta

Secretary Panetta joined with former Republican United States Senator Jim Talent (R-Missouri) in a commentary published May 2 in The Wall Street Journal to call for changes in how military personnel are recruited and retained.

The authors suggest “replacing the current system with a more flexible model that expands the military’s access to talent. This model would reward experience and performance without unduly burdening military families.”

Citing the military’s difficulty in finding enough qualified personnel, Secretary Panetta and Senator Talent wrote, “Our military still operates with a personnel system designed in 1947 to fight the Soviet Union. Unchanged since then, this one-size-fits-all system for recruiting, retaining and promoting troops, treats nearly every service member as an interchangeable cog.”

Secretary Panetta and Senator Talent recently led a Bipartisan Policy Center task force focused on modernizing how the military manages its personnel. They argued that the recruiting process — primarily geared toward young adults — “is trapped in the past.”

“The future force will also require experienced professionals with highly valuable skills such as engineering, cybersecurity and foreign languages. We recommend discarding policies that prohibit experienced individuals from entering the military at higher ranks so that the military can entice talented recruits.”

Secretary Panetta called on the military to encourage troops to continue serving by allowing them to compete for promotion. “Military promotions today are largely a seniority-based system governed by predetermined timelines. Those not promoted on schedule are kicked out. We recommend placing increased emphasis on merit and allowing individuals to seek promotion when ready. This will allow troops in critical specialties, like cyber, to master their skill sets without racing to meet arbitrary promotion cutoffs.”

They continued: “Serving in the military will always require sacrifice. On the battlefield and back home, service members place what’s best for the military ahead of their personal desires. Career service members typically will move nearly a dozen times—usually with a family in tow. This can help produce well-rounded troops. But it also results in stress and instability for military families. We recommend giving service members more influence over when and where they move.”

Secretary Panetta and Senator Talent called on Congress to promote a personnel reform to create an up-to-date fighting force.

“To strengthen our military, we must focus not only on new ships, planes and tanks, but also on those who sail, fly and drive them,” they concluded.

Click here to read the commentary.

United States Has Limited Options Regarding North Korea, Secretary Panetta Writes

The United States has “no good options” in dealing with threats from North Korea, secretary Panetta wrote in a commentary published in the April 17 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“In a dangerous world filled with flash points, North Korea represents one of the most immediate threats,” said Secretary Panetta. “And, yet, in responding to this threat, U.S. national security reviews have looked at everything from preemptive military action to a policy of ‘strategic patience.’ The bitter reality is that there are no good options.”

Citing evidence that North Korea now has more than a dozen nuclear weapons and may be preparing for a sixth nuclear test, Secretary Panetta said, “They are making progress on solid-fuel rocket motors and miniaturization of warheads to fit on top of a missile, and they have over 20,000 rocket launchers, artillery pieces and heavy mortars.”

Secretary Panetta characterized North Korean leader Kim Jung Un as  someone who abuses his power, starves his people and threatens the U.S. and the international community. “The history of North Korea is the history of a nation that has bounced from provocation to accommodation and back again without significant economic or diplomatic success except to preserve the regime.

“The danger is that provocation could lead to miscalculation — and a war that nobody wants,” Secretary Panetta continued.

“It is for that reason that the only option is for the United States to maintain and strengthen our military and intelligence capabilities, support our allies, increase economic sanctions and pressure China to force North Korea back into negotiations. If some combination of pressure and engagement continues to fail, all we are left with is containment and deterrence, in the hope that the regime, like the old Soviet Union, will self-destruct.”

He concluded: “That may not be very satisfying, but it is the bitter reality.”

Here is a link to Secretary Panetta’s commentary.

Secretary Panetta Tells Yale Student Magazine That Young People Must Get Involved in Public Debate

In an interview with the Yale political magazine Politic, Secretary Panetta issued a call for young people to get involved in the world of public service, saying that the health of the nation’s democracy depends on it.

Secretary Panetta: “I was attracted to public service because I thought it was a higher calling.”

In the magazine’s April 3, 2017 online edition, Politic writer Sarah Strober asked for any advice Secretary Panetta had for college students. He responded: “We have an institute for public policy, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, and our mission is to try to inspire young people to get involved in lives of public service. The reason for that is, I think, the health of our democracy depends on those that do get involved, who are concerned about the direction of our country, who are concerned about important issues affecting our future and are willing to engage in the political process to try to influence the direction of our country.”

Recalling his own days as a law student, Secretary Panetta said, “I was attracted to public service because I thought it was a higher calling. I thought it was important for people to do that. There was a young president who said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ I think it’s important for young people to understand that if they do get involved, if they do participate in our democracy, they can make a difference.”

Ms. Strober also asked Secretary Panetta about his most difficult day on the job, to which he recalled the memorable day of his role as CIA director during the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Secretary Panetta recalled sitting in a conference room on the seventh floor of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, with representatives from Special Forces following along with the progress of the operation. He recounted how two helicopters with SEALs on board went about 150 miles into Pakistan from the base in Afghanistan and avoided detection by Pakistanis. Once helicopters arrived at the compound, Secretary Panetta said, “They were to deploy the members of the SEAL team down through ropes to go into the compound. Unfortunately, one of the helicopters stalled because of the heat that had taken place that day. Fortunately, it was a great warrant officer who was the pilot. He was able to set that helicopter down and to the credit of the Special Forces, they continued the mission. They called in a backup helicopter, breached the walls, went in, we did the mission and were able to get out of there. It was obviously a nerve-wracking operation but at the end of the day, it was successful and I think it was probably my proudest moment as CIA director.”

Secretary Panetta also expressed his views on current events, including:

  • His concern about Russia interfering in the United States election and the Trump administration’s apparent close ties to Russian leadership;
  • His opinion that the United States could have been tougher on both Russia and Syria;
  • That the “battlefield of the future” will be cyber attacks.

As a favor to “news-savvy” students, Ms. Strober asked Secretary Panetta about his favored news outlets. He replied: “I read a variety of news channels. I get The New York Times at home, I usually go online to read the Washington Post, and I read The Wall Street Journal. I usually try to pick up on CNN and listen to the evening news hours and their summary of the news. I also have contacts in Washington and, depending on the issue, I call them and get their sense of what’s taking place on issues — just to get somebody that is close to Washington — to get their viewpoint. So, I try to get a various set of news reports just because I have always felt, throughout my political career, that by reading a combination of credible journals, it’s likely to give you a better sense of where the truth is.”

Here is a link to the entire interview.

Sylvia Panetta Speaks in Honor of Local Civil Rights Leader Helen Rucker

On Saturday, April 1, Sylvia M. Panetta spoke at the NAACP of Monterey County’s 45th annual Freedom Fund Life Membership Banquet where Helen Rucker was recognized with the Medgar Evers Freedom Legacy Award for her work on behalf of civil rights and civic engagement. Held in Monterey, the event raised funds for the prestigious organization that has been working in the Central Coast community for more eighty-five years. Mrs. Panetta provided introductory remarks for Ms. Rucker, a local civil rights champion and former elected official who is a longtime friend and colleague of both Secretary and Mrs. Panetta. Ms. Rucker is a regular participant in many of the Panetta Institute’s programs including the Leadership Seminar, and the Leon Panetta Lecture Series.

Below is the full text of Mrs. Panetta’s remarks from the event.

This evening, I have the great honor of recognizing one of the hardest working and most dedicated public servants I have ever known as she receives the recognition of the Medgar Evers Freedom Legacy Award.

Throughout her life, my dear friend Helen Rucker has been a champion for civil rights, equality and civic engagement. She has led her life as an example and has been tenacious in her efforts, ensuring that everyone she meets understands the great responsibility and privilege it is to participate in our democracy.

I have known Helen for almost fifty years. We first met when I was working with Charlie Knight in public education. Later when Leon served in Congress, Helen was a tireless precinct walker and campaign volunteer. More than that, over the years she became my dear friend and sounding board. I can’t count the number of times that I reached out to Helen to discuss the best ways to bring the community together. No matter if the issue was the closure of Fort Ord, water management, transportation, and in the past 20 years the Student program for the Leon Panetta Lecture Series with outreach to underserved high school students who could benefit from this program, Helen is there to help.

Helen is a force and a mobilizer. She is never content to simply rest on past successes, or accept mediocrity as the status-quo. Helen challenges herself and all those she comes in touch with to do more, to work harder, and to be better.

Each June, the Panetta Institute holds a program for student leaders from throughout California. These students spend a week at the Institute hearing from different leaders: elected officials, athletes, military leaders, religious leaders and more. As part of this program, I moderate a panel on grassroots and community organizing and every year among different leaders in the community, I always invite Helen. That is because Helen’s presentation to these youngsters is not just eye-opening, not just inspirational, but for many in the audience her presentation along with the other members is life-changing.

Helen tells these young people about her childhood growing up in segregated Louisiana. She tells them about how a love for reading brought her to teaching and eventually to serve as a school librarian where she was able to share the power of reading with students for generations to come. When she retired she still had more to give and so she tells these young people about her decision to run for local government and about her terms as a Seaside City councilwoman, mayor pro tem and member of the board of trustees for Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. She shares her story with these young men and women and then she challenges them. She tells them to take stock of the opportunities that they have been given and reminds them of those that have fought and have sacrificed so that they can have freedoms that they all too often take for granted. In so doing, she forces everyone in the room to question their apathy and to recommit themselves to fighting for what is right, to becoming involved in a cause they believe, and to making their community and their nation a place in which to be proud. She also reminds everyone about the right and responsibility to vote – her words: “You do not have a right not to vote.”

Helen brings that message to the entire community every day through her work with the Seaside Voter Education/Registration Center, where she promotes the importance of everyone registering to vote in every election.

Before I close, I’d like to share one other story about my work with Helen. For more than twenty years now, Helen has served as a member of the Leon Panetta Lecture Series taskforce. In this role Helen attends meetings on the planning of each event and she volunteers during each lecture. At the start of each meeting, I ask those assembled to introduce themselves and state who they are representing. When we get to Helen, she speaks up loudly and clearly and introduces herself as “Helen Rucker, representing the community.” In so many ways that one phrase is Helen. In her every action Helen is there steadfast in her representation of her community, and without question the community is blessed to have her as its champion.

Creative, dedicated and principled, Helen is the kind of public servant we always hope to inspire our Panetta Institute students to emulate. I am proud to call her my friend and so lucky to have her as my colleague and collaborator.

Leon and I salute you as you receive the Medgar Evers Freedom Legacy Award on this day, Helen. We congratulate you and express our deep gratitude for your tremendous public service.

Lessons of World War I Resonate Today, Secretary Panetta Argues

Current and future generations of America should remember the lessons learned in World War I, a time of sacrifice by American citizens that led to this country’s emergence as a world leader, Secretary Leon E. Panetta writes in a recent commentary published by USA Today.

“One hundred years ago, 4.7 million patriotic Americans answered President Woodrow Wilson’s call and put on a uniform to help ‘make the world safe for democracy.'” writes Secretary Panetta in the April 5, 2017 edition of USA Today. “These Americans came from all walks of life: college students, lawyers, farmers and sharecroppers. They all served: whites, African Americans, Native Americans and recent immigrants from across the globe.”

“The brave American combatants paid a heavy cost,” Secretary Panetta continues. “More than 50,000 died at the hands of the enemy, while just as many perished from non-battle injuries such as the influenza pandemic. Untold numbers of Americans came home maimed or suffering from the effects of poison gas.

Because of that sacrifice, Secretary Panetta writes, “America became a better democracy and a world leader. Equal rights for women, African Americans and other minorities gained momentum in the twentieth century because everyone played a role in defending the nation. World War I was the first time the U.S. engaged with the rest of the world and provided the leadership necessary for our allies in the world to unify to confront a common enemy. We continue to bear that responsibility or world leadership today.”

“There will always be threats to our freedom,” Secretary Panetta adds. “Future generations of Americans will, sadly, need to step forward again to protect it. Those future generations will need to look back at World War I for its lessons…. Time cannot diminish the importance of what they have done for us.”

Click here to read the commentary.

Secretary Panetta Honored by California Forward; Calls for a New Commitment to Leadership

Secretary Leon Panetta was honored with the first-ever Forward Thinker Award January 26 by California Forward, a non-partisan public interest group co-founded by Secretary Panetta ten years ago.

Secretary Panetta was presented the Forward Thinker Award.

In accepting the award at a celebration dinner in San Francisco, Secretary Panetta spoke of the need nationally for bipartisan governance and how California Forward has “made giant steps in the right direction.”

Secretary Panetta added, “If California Forward can continue to fight those battles there’s no question in my mind that the dream of my parents for a better life will become real for our young people in the future.”

The issues initially taken on by California Forward included redistricting, bipartisanship and the state budget. Over the past decade, California Forward has expanded its focus to address other concerns, such as the restoration of upward mobility – by fortifying workforce development programs, reforming housing policy and by promoting a new state water supply that sustains California’s future.

In praising California Forward, Secretary Panetta spoke of the need for good governance, and warned of the danger resulting from “divisions and partisanship that divides both parties from the ability to work together.”

Secretary Panetta warned, “It’s a perfect environment for populists. Or soothsayers. Or snake-oil salesmen. Or people who say ‘I can solve it.'”

Instead, Secretary Panetta continued, bipartisan governance is needed by “new leadership” committed to compromise and solving problems. Citing California Forward as an example, he called on public servants and elected officials to commit to governing as top priority, “not to party, not to money, not to special interests.”

Secretary Panetta concluded his address by saying: “The real strength of this country is not in Washington, D.C.; it is in the resilience, common sense, dedication and the will to fight by the American people.”

Here is a link to a video of Secretary Panetta’s speech.

Selection Interviews Conducted for Nominees in Prestigious Panetta Internship Program

Prospective participants in the nineteenth annual Congressional Internship Program arrived at The Panetta Institute for Public Policy in 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-six campuses vied for the opportunity to be part of the 2017 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, 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 2016, Malcolm Mills of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, spoke of his experience: “The internship opportunity taught me more about politics and how the federal government functions than I had learned in all my years in school and watching the news.” He added: “Someone told me that this would be a life-changing experience. At the time, I couldn’t grasp the truth in those words. But after this experience, I’d say that was the perfect way to describe this opportunity.”

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.

“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.”

Panetta Institute Honors Recipients of 2016 Jefferson-Lincoln Awards at Gala Event

The Panetta Institute honored five national leaders at its seventeenth annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards dinner and gala, held November 12 at the beautiful Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach.

Congressman Sam Farr is honored by Secretary and Mrs. Panetta.

Congressman Sam Farr is honored by Secretary and Mrs. Panetta.

Honorees were Tom Carper, United States Senator (D), Delaware; Lisa Murkowski, United States Senator (R), Alaska; Sam Farr, United States Representative (D), 20th District, California; Fran Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (2004-2008); and Robert Mueller, Director,  Federal Bureau of Investigation (2001-2013).

In presenting the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards the Panetta Institute recognized individuals who have dedicated their careers to the most vital principles of our democracy. In highlighting the commitment and accomplishments of these men and women, the Institute promotes the example of principled public service to those currently in office, as well as to individuals who are considering serving in office and to the electorate itself. It is the hope of the Institute’s board of directors that bringing attention to the best of our democracy can counter the forces of dysfunction and division.

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 event serves as the Panetta Institute’s major annual fundraiser.

Expanded Research Fellows Program Focuses on the Challenge of Bipartisanship and Practical Public-Policy Decisions

The Panetta Institute’s Policy Research Fellows Program, now in its eleventh year, has expanded the breadth of the program with an ambitious curriculum in which three law students from Santa Clara University School of Law focused on researching and proposing real-world, bipartisan solutions to the major issues facing the United States today.

This semester’s course of study was specially created by Secretary Leon Panetta and focused on how public policy issues can be addressed by parties of competing interests and ultimately develop into consensus solutions acceptable to both Democrats and Republicans.

An expanded faculty for 2017 has facilitated the fellows’ research, and advised the fellows in developing both written and oral presentations, which they completed in April. Fellows first researched issues such as tax reform, immigration, climate change, infrastructure and healthcare and developed written and oral reports. Each fellow then initially developed policy positions that adhered to standard political framing — both Republican and Democrat. At that point, Institute instructors questioned and challenged their positions, leading to the next level of their work — developing compromise policy proposals that demonstrate a realistic approach, policies that could be put into practice in the real world. Fellows presented their final presentations in both written and oral reports.

“In an increasingly partisan political atmosphere, compromise and cooperation is in short supply,” said Secretary Panetta. “Our fellows program demonstrates that political progress is possible, and that hard work, research and a commitment to getting results is necessary to our nation today.”

The Fellows Program was created in the spring of 2006 in collaboration with the Santa Clara University School of Law, offering those law students with exemplary academic records and a commitment to the study of public policy to work on-site at the Institute. Since then, seventy law students from Santa Clara and the Monterey College of Law have completed the program.

Three fellows started their work in January. Participants served 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.

In addition to Secretary Panetta, program lecturers include attorneys, educators and former elected officials. Currently working with the program are Fred Keeley, former state Assemblyman; Bill Daniels, a local attorney; Sonia Banks, an attorney and educator; Richard Kezirian, the Institute’s professor; and Ellen Wilson, archivist and writer.

Professors worked with the fellows through the entire program, helping guide them through their research into issues and ultimately questioning and challenging their work as part of gaining understanding into the actual political challenges faced by the nation’s leaders. The combined faculty used its collective experience in public service, conflict resolution, education and legal practice to guide fellows in the techniques of policy analysis and the application of these techniques to current public-policy issues.

“With this cadre of experts, participating students work directly with experienced professionals with legal, historical, educational and political perspectives,” said Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta.

Many of the past fellows have gone on to successful law careers, both regionally and nationally. To name a few:

  • 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.
  • Roujin Mozaffarimehr, a fellow in the spring of 2013, is an associate attorney at Mathews & Peddibhotla Law Group in Newark, CA.
  • Tori Anthony, a fellow in the spring of 2015, is an associate at Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai law firm in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Previous fellows have completed work in a variety of public policy issues, including research into the idea of a national service program.

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.”

Fellows 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.

Cal Poly Magazine Touts Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program

Cal 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, with an article in Cal Poly magazine written by 2016 intern Malcom Mills.

Mr. Mills noted, “For two and a half months I was in Washington, D.C., representing Cal Poly as a Panetta Institute for Public Policy Congressional intern. I learned about Congress by working in a congressional office. The internship opportunity taught me more about politics and how the federal government functions than I had learned in all my years in school and watching the news.”

Former Congressional Intern Malcom Mills at the Capitol (Photo by Logan Werlinger, courtesy of Cal Poly magazine)

Now a senior sociology major at Cal Poly, Mr. Mills  said the experience exceeded even his high expectations. “Someone told me that this would be a life-changing experience. At the time, I couldn’t grasp the truth in those words. But after this experience, I’d say that was the perfect way to describe this opportunity.”

His article explains how the program begins with a two-week orientation at the Institute. “Within hours of arriving, we were sitting down with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former Vice President Dan Quayle. Throughout that time, experienced public servants spoke to us on a broad range of topics, including how the federal government is supposed to function versus how it actually functions, the finer points of being an effective congressional intern, and how to make the most of our time in Washington, D.C. By the time we were finished at the institute, it felt as if we were already done — but it was simply the beginning.”

Following the orientation comes the actual eleven-week internship, and Mr. Mills cited the significant contribution he was able to make while interning for Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA). “The staffers in her office …  encouraged me to learn more about the daily operations of a congressional office. They had me work on various projects for them and the congresswoman, which allowed me to further my knowledge about how the political process works. I interacted with the constituents in her districts, learning more about the district and the issues important to its citizens. I attended congressional briefings in which experts and passionate advocates informed the staffers and the congresswoman about various issues. By the end of the internship, I felt like I was part of the staff, which made saying ‘goodbye’ much harder.”

Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta said that Mr. Mills’ article is representative of what she hears from those who participate in the Congressional Internship Program. “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 2017 issue of Cal Poly Magazine, click here.

Secretary Panetta Says It’s Time for a World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The time has come for the United States to honor American veterans from World War I, Secretary Leon E. Panetta has argued in an opinion column published November 15 in the Military Times.

“World War I is the only great war of the 20th century that doesn’t have a national memorial in the nation’s capital,” wrote Secretary Panetta. “That, in itself, makes it important enough for us to do everything possible to make this a reality.

“But this memorial is important for a number of other reasons,” he continued.

Secretary Panetta cited the need to honor the memories of the five million men and women who served in uniform, including two million who went overseas and 116,516 who died. “We need to take the time to remember their brave sacrifices.”

Secretary Panetta urged the need for the public to remember that it was World War I that brought America to the role of world leadership. “World War I was the first time the U.S. engaged with the rest of the world and provided the leadership necessary for the rest of the world to unify and confront a common enemy. We continue to bear the responsibility of world leadership today.

“The reality is that if the U.S. doesn’t provide leadership in a very troubled world, no one else will,” he continued. ” And so, it was World War I that brought America onto the world stage, creating a role we continue to play.”

Secretary Panetta cited the Panetta Institute’s annual Lecture Series, and in particular the theme of the program in 2014,  100 Years From the Beginning of World War I — 1914-2014.

“Many of the world’s flashpoints in 1914 are similar to the flashpoints we confront today,” he wrote. “Terrorism, nationalism, territorial disputes, fragile alliances. World leadership that wasn’t quite able to see what those threats were really about, or how to deal with them in a way that would prevent a world war from happening.”

Secretary Panetta concluded: “We need to have people in this country understand what war is all about. We forget too quickly. There are people who don’t even remember 9/11, much less World War I. We can’t afford to forget those conflicts. We can’t forget the people who fought them. We can’t afford to forget their lessons. If we are to make the right decisions in the future, we better damn well understand the past.”

To read Secretary Panetta’s commentary, click here.

Panetta Institute Lecturer Presented with Gibson Award by Monterey County Bar Association

Professor Bill Daniels on the cover of BarLine magazine

Professor Bill Daniels on the cover of BarLine magazine

William Daniels, supervising attorney for the Panetta Institute’s Policy Research Fellows Program and a Monterey attorney in the field of conflict management, has been presented with the Gibson Award by the Monterey County Bar Association.

The award is named in honor of the Chief Justice Sheridan Gibson of the California Supreme Court, and is presented annually by the Monterey County Bar Association. In accepting the award, Mr. Daniels paid tribute to the late justice and reflected on the importance of the rule of law. “The rule of law is what makes all of us Americans,” he said. “The Gibson Award reminds me that I’ve been lucky in finding and making opportunities to serve the rule of law.’

A specialist in the field of conflict management and a co-founder of the Monterey College of Law, Mr. Daniels also works with law students at the Institute’s Policy Research Fellows Program. His area of expertise is in the role of mediation and how judicial knowledge can aid in addressing community concerns.

Mr. Daniels began his law career as a public interest attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance from 1967 until 1970. In that year, he was appointed assistant professor of social sciences at City University of New York. In 1971, he joined the Monterey County law firm of Heisler, Stewart, Silver and Daniels and has remained at that firm to the present. He co-founded the Monterey College of Law in 1973 and the Mandell Gisnet Center for Conflict Management in 1988.

Participating Volunteers and Schools Honored as Monterey County Reads Enters its Twentieth Year

As the award-winning Monterey County Reads program enters its twentieth year, the Panetta Institute hosted its annual Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony on Friday, September 16 as a way to honor the reading volunteers and elementary schools that have participated in the Institute’s landmark literacy initiative during the 2015-16 school year.

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Keynote speaker Simón Salinas

The event featured opening remarks by Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta, and keynote speaker Simón Salinas, Monterey County Supervisor, District 3. Supervisor Salinas spoke on the importance of reading and literacy for young people. More than 200 people were in attendance. Commander Paul Tanks, head of the NJROTC program at Monterey High School, served as master of ceremonies.

The Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony is held at the beginning of the school year as a way to honor all the participants as they are gearing up for the twentieth year of the program. “Twenty years ago, I posed a question to the community and asked: ‘What are our children going to do if they can’t read?'” recalled Mrs. Panetta. “The Central Coast responded to this call to action and for two decades volunteers from all walks of life have joined us in the vital effort to have children in Monterey

County reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Our work involves schools, administrators, teachers and volunteers. It brings together the community and the classroom for the good of our youth. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish together and the good work we continue to do.”

This special celebration was in recognition of the 183 Monterey County Reads volunteers for their dedication in helping children achieve grade level literacy skills. These volunteers were honored alongside the thirty four schools that welcomed them into their classrooms and whose teachers and administrators help make the program possible. In honor of their dedication and outstanding work in helping local elementary school children improve their reading skills, volunteers received certificates of recognition along with special pins. Participating schools, including four high schools which provide volunteers, also received certificates honoring their support.

Also speaking was Kathy Moon, volunteer from Madonna del Sasso Pro Cathedral at Boronda Meadows Elementary School in Salinas, Hecate Rosewood, principal of Highland Elementary School, Seaside, Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County superintendent of schools and Eduardo Ochoa, president of California State University, Monterey Bay.

Eight volunteers received the program’s Golden Threads award in recognition of five years of service toward this vital effort. Never before have that many five-year awards been presented.

In its nineteen-year history, 3,488 Monterey County Reads volunteers have read nearly 126,000 hours one-to-one with approximately 17,235 children in Monterey County elementary schools.

Commander Paul Tanks served as master of ceremonies.

Commander Paul Tanks served as master of ceremonies.

“We celebrate all the volunteers, teachers and schools by recognizing them for their past work as well as their future commitment,” stated Mrs. Panetta.

“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. 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.”

The Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony is sponsored by the Panetta Institute for Public Policy. For more about the program, see this article in the Monterey Herald.

Click here to learn more about this program and how you can help, or call the Institute at 831-582-4200.

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. “

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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