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

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

Photo Courtesy of the Monterey Herald

Photo Courtesy of the Monterey Herald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Students Selected for 2015 Class of Panetta Institute Interns

The 2015 class of the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program will arrive at the Institute on August 9 for two weeks of classes before departing to Washington, D.C. to serve for eleven weeks as Congressional aides in an office of a member of the California congressional delegation.

“Our class of 2015 is impressive,” said Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “I am pleased to see that they are a diverse group, both ethnically and in their selected courses of studies. They also are geographically diverse as well, coming from all parts of California.”

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

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

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

Secretary Panetta’s Portrait Unveiled at Pentagon Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Panetta Receives Prestigious Dwight D. Eisenhower Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veteran Pacific Grove High School Educator Honored by Panetta Institute

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

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

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

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

Secretary Panetta’s Worthy Fights Remains a Much-Discussed Account of a Career in Public Service

worthySecretary Leon E. Panetta’s best-selling memoir, Worthy Fights, remains one of the most-discussed books of the last year, with its account not only of Secretary Panetta’s insights into current foreign affairs, but also his recollections of his more than fifty years of public service.

Worthy Fights is an overview of Secretary Panetta’s values, which he describes at length. He makes the case that political leadership should be more about serving the public than it is about partisan battles, and how he learned the principles of integrity early in his career.

The 472-page memoir is a comprehensive look back at Secretary Panetta’s career, beginning with his service as an Army intelligence officer and continuing through his years as an aide to California Senator Tom Kuchel, a controversial tenure in President Nixon’s Department of Health, Education and Welfare and a stint as a staffer with New York Mayor John Lindsay.

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

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

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

Panetta Institute Education Programs Honored by Association of California School Administrators

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

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

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

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

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

Monterey County Reads Volunteer Honored With Jefferson Award

Luisa Alves volunteers in the Monterey County Reads program.

Luisa Alves volunteers in the Monterey County Reads program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Panetta on CNN Describes Partisan Divide in Washington as a Threat to the Nation’s Security

Secretary Leon E. Panetta appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” news program on February 15 to discuss the many global challenges facing security of the  United States today.

Speaking from The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, Secretary Panetta discussed with CNN anchor Jim Costa the need to confront terrorism abroad, but added: “You want to know what the biggest national security threat is to this country right now? It’s the total dysfunction in Washington, the fact that so little can be done by the Congress. They can’t even resolve the issue of Homeland Security. They can’t deal with budgets. They can’t deal with immigration reform. They can’t deal with infrastructure. They can’t deal with other issues.”

Secretary Panetta also commented on the need for America’s leadership globally. “If we stand aside, if we don’t get involved, if we don’t provide leadership, unfortunately, nobody else will, he said. “That’s why it’s important for us to take a leadership position here, both in Syria, as well as in Iraq, as well as elsewhere in confronting terrorism.”


Panetta Institute Honors United States Senator Ron Wyden, Representative Mike Rogers and CNN Correspondent Barbara Starr at Annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards

Secretary Panetta with dinner honorees Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), CNN correspondent Barbara Starr and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Secretary Panetta with dinner honorees former Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), CNN correspondent Barbara Starr and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The fifteenth annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards: An Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service was held November 8, 2014  at The Inn at Spanish Bay at Pebble Beach. This year’s honorees were United States Senator Ron Wyden, former United States Representative Mike Rogers and CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.

Commenting on the honorees, Institute Chairman and Co-Founder Leon E. Panetta said, “with growing unrest throughout the Middle East, the crisis in Ukraine, the threat posed by the Islamic state, those in elected offices owe it to our men and women in uniform to reach across party lines and to lead in the best interest of our nation. Senator Wyden and Representative Rogers understand their role as public servants and have shown time and time again their commitment to country above party. CNN’s Barbara Starr has dedicated her career to ensuring the Americans are properly informed about our nation’s defense. During these perilous times, their contributions are more essential than ever.”

The annual event honors policy makers and journalists whose work best exemplifies dedicated effort on behalf of the public good. The event is the Institute’s major fundraiser for the year, with monies raised going to support the Institute’s mission to inspire men and women to lives of public service.

Jefferson-Lincoln honorees are selected by a special committee consisting of former United States Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former United States Representative Lee Hamilton, Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta.

Secretary Panetta Joins News Anchor Judy Woodruff on PBS World News Tonight

pbs-PANETTASecretary Leon Panetta, along with former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, appeared on PBS World News Tonight on January 23 to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East with news anchor Judy Woodruff.

“I worry a great deal about the crisis that we’re seeing in the Middle East,” Secretary Panetta said. “There are just too many flash points that are going on all at the same time.”

Ms. Woodruff and Mr. Hadley both have been participants at Panetta Institute programs in Monterey. Ms. Woodruff has appeared as both a guest and moderator at the Leon Panetta Lecture Series, and was the recipient of the annual Jefferson-Lincoln Award honoring public service in 2007.  Mr. Hadley, who served in the George W. Bush administration, appeared on a Lecture Series panel in 2011.

Law Students in Research Fellows Program for 2015 Meet With an Array of Public Officials as a Key Element of Their Studies

Five law-school students from the Santa Clara University School of Law have completed their semester of study in the Panetta Institute’s spring 2015 Policy Research Fellows Program.

liebertIn addition to working 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, the law students met in special seminars with visiting experts for discussions about issues currently facing public officials regionally, statewide and nationally.

Institute Chairman Secretary Leon Panetta was among those meeting with the students, as well as other experts, including John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources; State Senator Bill Monning; Drew Liebert, Chief Counsel, California Assembly Judiciary Committee; Ryan Coonerty, Santa Cruz County supervisor; Steve Isenberg, former publisher of New York Newsday, a university professor and former chief of staff to New York City Mayor John Lindsay; and Fred Keeley, former state Assemblyman.

The Policy Research Fellows Program, instituted in 2006, was originally organized for three to four students. For the 2014-15 academic year, however, nine exceptional candidates applied for the program. “Rather than deny a qualified candidate of this important opportunity,” said Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta, “we made room for one more student and accommodated ourselves to the increased popularity of this fellowship.” Four students had completed fellowships in the fall of 2014.

Fellows also conducted research in support of the Leon Panetta Lecture Series and assisted in the creation of academic materials for use by the schools that participate in the Lecture Series Afternoon Student Program

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

One of the research fellows from 2014 said she appreciated the selected subject matter. “When I was younger I wanted to work for the government but then felt disenchanted growing up. But my experience here has reignited my interest in public policy and government work.”

The Policy Research Fellows Program started in 2006, and since then, sixty-one students have completed their semester of service, receiving academic credit from their host schools.

Applications for the 2015-2016 program are due this spring to Santa Clara University School of Law.

Panetta Institute Calls for More Community Volunteers in Literacy Initiative

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

“By committing to just one hour a week, volunteers can achieve life-changing benefits for children – the same people that will be serving their communities in just a very few years,” said Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary and Mrs. Panetta Honored at 98th Annual Italian Community Services Celebration

Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Mrs. Sylvia Panetta were honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Italian Community Services (ICS) organization at the group’s ninety-eighth anniversary dinner on November 2, 2014 in San Francisco.

ICS President Luigi E. Pinotti said Secretary and Mrs. Panetta were honored as founders of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, “for their contribution to the community and for promoting the traditions of excellence that Italians and Italian Americans have based their successes on.”

Founded in 1916 by leading members of the San Francisco Italian community, such as A.P. Giannini, Marco Fontana and Andrea Sbarboro, the agency’s services help Bay Area Italian-American men and women by offering a variety of health and social services. Through educational and cultural programs, ICS also works to preserve the Bay Area’s strong Italian traditions, language and culture to ensure they remain a source of strength and identity for this and future generations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Panetta Emphasizes the Role of Reading in Helping Young People Achieve the American Dream

Secretary Leon E. Panetta was the keynote speaker at the Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony for Monterey County Reads on Friday, September 12, 2014 as 180 volunteers were honored for their dedication in helping children achieve grade level literacy skills.

Secretary Panetta talks with a volunteer about reading

Secretary Panetta talks with a volunteer about reading

Secretary Panetta looked back on his own education on the Monterey Peninsula and told the honorees, “The key to success in America is opportunity for all. But the key to success is a good education, and the key to a good education is the ability to read. And all of that is the American dream.”

Secretary Panetta recalled going to Catholic school and going to the old Monterey Library, where there was a program in which adults read books to children. He still recalls his favorites — a book series called the Dave Dawson series along with books by John Steinbeck and Jack London.

“Those were great books that opened up a world to a young boy. And that’s what reading is all about. The whole purpose of reading,” he said, “is to develop the whole mind of our children.”

He observed that today’s high-tech world has many gadgets, however, “I just want to remind all of us that those are tools. They don’t replace the brain.”

What Monterey County Reads is all about, he said, “is to give young people a chance.” The result, he said, will be “that we always have a democracy that is of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Volunteers, School Officials Honored for the Continuing Success of Monterey County Reads

The Panetta Institute honored 180 volunteers in the Monterey County Reads program at its Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony on Friday, September 12, 2014. The Institute also paid tribute to the forty elementary schools who welcome volunteers into their classrooms and whose teachers and administrators help make the program possible.

Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski discusses reading as Mrs. Panetta looks on.

Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski discusses reading as Mrs. Panetta looks on.

This Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony, held at the Monterey Peninsula College Marina Education Center, was in honor of those whose outstanding work helps local elementary school children improve their reading skills. Volunteers received certificates of recognition along with special pins, while participating schools also received a certificate honoring their important participation and support.

Following the keynote address by Secretary Leon E. Panetta, the master of ceremonies for the event, Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta, told the audience, “Monterey County Reads is a tremendous example of the power of partnerships to improve our communities and protect the well being of our children. This program brings together members of the community from diverse backgrounds with schools and struggling young readers in order to give our youth the gift of literacy. We salute their commitment and hard work and recognize their service and accomplishment.”

The ceremony also featured remarks from a reading volunteer, a school site-coordinator and the Monterey County Superintendent of Schools.

Mrs. Panetta honors Patricia Zuniga, Santa Rita School site coordinator

Mrs. Panetta honors Patricia Zuniga, Santa Rita School literacy coach.

Now in its eighteenth year, Monterey County Reads volunteers continue to work with children throughout Monterey County. These volunteers include parents, business owners, members of religious and service organizations as well as high school, college, university and military students, to name some. Volunteers receive training from literacy specialists, followed by on-site orientations before beginning regular one-to-one reading sessions with specially selected children in the early elementary grades. Since the program’s inception, more than 2,800 volunteers have read with 14,000 children for nearly 112,000 hours.

The Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony is sponsored by the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, the Monterey County Office of Education and the Monterey County Reading Association.

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

Steven Avila and President Obama

Steven Avila and President Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fred Meurer

Fred Meurer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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