Honorees at 2019 Jefferson-Lincoln Awards Gala Express Optimism That Cooperation Will Replace Polarization 

Featured at the twentieth Jefferson-Lincoln Dinner were, from left, Rep. Thomas Reed, former Sen. Alan Simpson, Janet Napolitano, Secretary Panetta, Mrs. Panetta and Joshua Gottheimer.

The Panetta Institute once again honored a slate of public servants at the twentieth annual Jefferson-Lincoln Awards: An Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service dinner and gala, held at the beautiful Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, on Saturday, November 9.

Supporters of the Panetta Institute were treated to a sumptuous dining experience provided by a host of talented chefs led by local master chef Bert Cutino, as well as the honoring of the latest Jefferson-Lincoln Award recipients for their commitment to bipartisanship in representing the American people as well as their own constituents.

United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), University of California President Janet Napolitano, United States Representative Joshua S. Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) and United States Representative Thomas W. Reed II (R-New York) were the latest in a series of national figures to be honored not only for their years of public service, but also for their spirit of bipartisanship in representing the American people as well as their own constituents. Also appearing at the gala event were former United States Senator Alan Simpson, who accepted a Jefferson-Lincoln Award on behalf of Senator Alexander, and Garrett Ashley, president of the California State University Foundation.

UC President Janet Napolitano: “I see great hope.”

Honorees acknowledged the divisiveness of today’s governance, even as they expressed their optimism that the political dialogue can move toward more collaboration. UC President Janet Napolitano said, “I see great hope for us as I look at the upcoming generation.” She is encouraged, she said, by students that are committed to equality and policies that are based on a “fact-based foundation.”

Senator Alexander, speaking by video, commented on the “split-screen” aspect of Washington, D.C. “On one screen there is the polarization that catches the media’s attention. On the other, one would see collaboration.” He cited successful new legislation that rewrote education laws, approved a major medical research bill and a new strategy to fight opioid abuse.

Representative Reed, a member of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers” Congressional caucus, said his goal is to someday have the consensus-building group not necessary, because it would be replaced by a “Problem Solvers Congress.”

Representative Gottheimer said “America will always be greater when we remember how America was built — with bipartisan cooperation and a focus on the challenges of the time.”

Also speaking was CSU Foundation’s Ashley, who commented that bipartisanship and leadership go hand-in-hand. “That is why CSU has supported the Panetta Institute for over twenty years, and why CSU looks forward to supporting the Panetta Institute for another twenty years.

Former Senator Alan Simpson: “Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.”

Former Senator Simpson, who accepted the Jefferson-Lincoln Award on behalf of Alexander, recalled his career in Washington, observing: “The difference between my day and today … is the hatred between members of each party. And, hatred corrodes the container it’s carried i

The Jefferson-Lincoln Awards dinner serves as the Panetta Institute’s major yearly fundraiser, benefitting Panetta Institute offerings, including Monterey County Reads, the Congressional Internship Program and the Student Leadership Program.

To inquire about sponsorship for Panetta Institute’s programs, call the Panetta Institute at 831-582-4200.

Secretary Panetta Focuses on the Need for Literacy at Event Honoring Schools and Volunteers in Monterey County Reads Program

The award-winning Monterey County Reads entered its twenty-third year this fall, and the Panetta Institute honored those who have helped make it a success at the annual Volunteer and School Recognition Ceremony on Friday, September 20.

Secretary Panetta delivered the keynote address.

The celebration was held at the CSUMB University Center Ballroom, and honored the many reading volunteers and elementary school personnel that participated in the Institute’s landmark literacy initiative during the 2018-19 school year. .

In honor of their service and outstanding work in helping local elementary school children improve their reading skills, volunteers received certificates of recognition along with special pins. Participating schools also were awarded certificates noting their important involvement and support.

Providing the keynote address was Secretary Leon Panetta, Chairman of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy. He praised volunteers, teachers and administrators for working together to provide literacy to the very children who need it most. “Literacy, the ability to read, is the key to the American Dream,” Secretary Panetta said.

“Thank God there are those like all of you,” he told the audience, “who care about helping our children.”

Secretary Panetta cited statistics showing increasing illiteracy nationwide, saying that thirty million people, a tenth of the population, cannot read. “It impacts the quality of our democracy. Teaching children to read is the key to our freedom.”

“Literacy is power,” Secretary Panetta said. “Knowledge is power. And providing that to the children of Monterey County is giving them a chance at succeeding in life.”

Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta announced to the honorees that in the history of Monterey County Reads program volunteers have provided 134,500 hours of one-to-one reading, providing help to 19,200 children. “This afternoon we recognize a year’s worth of hard work and dedication.”

Simón Salinas, former State Senator and Monterey County supervisor served as master of ceremonies.

“For more than two decades the residents of Monterey County have answered the call of service and given generously of their time on behalf of these children. This event gives us the opportunity to recognize their service and celebrate the impact of their good work.”

— Sylvia Panetta

“Secretary Panetta and I have always believed that the American Dream is to give our children a better life,” said Mrs. Panetta. “That’s what we did for own children and it’s what we strive to do for the students who participate in the Panetta Institute’s programs. However, this mission is most closely linked to our literacy initiative Monterey County Reads. Working together with teachers, school administrators, and the greater Monterey County community, we are helping the children in our region to have the skills they need to succeed, obtain a better a life and most importantly participate in our democracy.”

The ceremony also featured the presentation of a special Golden Threads longevity award to volunteers who have participated in the program for five and ten years.

Now in its twenty-third 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.

 For more information regarding the event or about volunteering with Monterey County Reads, please call The Panetta Institute for Public Policy at 831-582-4200.

2019 Congressional Interns Return from Washington, D.C.; Celebrated Program Now in its Twenty-First Year

Students participating in the Panetta Institute’s twenty-first Congressional Internship Program have returned to California from Congressional offices in Washington, D.C., .

Twenty-six students served one semester as interns in the California offices of the United States House of Representatives.

While in Washington, participants also attended weekly seminars in Washington held exclusively for them by the Institute. These seminars were led by Republican and Democratic members of Congress, top government officials and experts in a variety of fields, including the federal budget, healthcare, immigration, foreign policy and more.

Among the experts presenting to interns in Washington, D.C. were Dr. Pat Griffin, former assistant to the president for legislative affairs and partner, GriffinWilliams, LLC; Secretary Panetta; Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy and co-founder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security; Tom Daschle, former United States Senate Majority Leader (D), South Dakota; Thomas Wickham, J.D., parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; Alan Blinder, Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; and Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.

Interns also met with United States Representative Jimmy Panetta (D), Monterey, and toured the United States Supreme Court with Jamil N. Jaffer of the Antonin Scalia Law school.

The 2019 class of interns were nominated by the presidents of twenty-three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University, and interviewed by Panetta Institute senior staff.

The Congressional Internship Program began in August with a two-week orientation. The many speakers addressing students at the intensive two-week program were Dan Balz, best-selling author and chief correspondent for The Washington Post; Thomas Wickham, parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; and Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff for the Secretary of Defense and director of the CIA.

Secretary Panetta taught a number of courses, along with Panetta Institute professors.

The semester-long public service experience was developed by Secretary and Mrs. Panetta and is sponsored by the Panetta Institute. It is widely considered to be one of the finest congressional intern programs in the nation.

Dan Balz, left, of The Washington Post, discusses the press’s role with Secretary Panetta.

Secretary Panetta said that the Congressional Internship Program gives students an opportunity  to learn how to channel their interest in public service by working in Congressional offices, directly participating in the democratic process.

“Our 2019 national survey of college students found that a majority describe the country as being ‘off on the wrong track,’ even though most of them rate the state of the economy as excellent or good,” said Secretary Panetta.

“Clearly, when students think about the condition of the country, they’re looking beyond just national prosperity and their own economic prospects,” Secretary Panetta continued. “Their concerns go deeper, to the health of our democracy and the quality of our leaders.”

“At the Panetta Institute we are encouraged by this finding and are committed to transferring this enthusiasm to a new generation of leaders,” Secretary Panetta added. “Our intern program gives these young men and women the training and resources they need to work in Washington and participate in our democracy.”

“Your program changed my life. I continue to see the benefits and the countless ways the Congressional Internship Program impacted me. I have spent my career in government, campaigns, policy and direct service. I am constantly reminded of ‘Panetta Lessons’ (as our cohort called them.) The Panetta Institute shines as an example of how we should all serve.”

–Christina Barron, 2006 intern


A  2017 intern, Emily Yonan of Saint Mary’s College of California, described her experience this way: “This internship has definitely increased my interest in pursuing a career in public service. Thank you for everything you do. None of what you did went unnoticed.”

Click here for more information about the Congressional Internship Program.

Veteran Journalist and Longtime Panetta Institute Supporter Cokie Roberts Dies

Cokie Roberts, a pioneering journalist whose association with the Panetta Institute goes back many years, died September 17 of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.

Secretary Panetta honored Cokie Roberts with a Jefferson-Lincoln Award.

Ms. Roberts chronicled Washington for more than forty years on National Public Radio, ABC News, syndicated columns and several books.

“Cokie Roberts was one of the most knowledgeable journalists in Washington, fair-minded and accurate as well as having deep institutional knowledge about how Congress conducts its business,” said Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

Ms. Roberts shared her insight and expertise by serving on the Panetta Institute’s National Advisors panel as well as appearing twice as a speaker at the Leon Panetta Lecture Series. She also met with students at Institute programs and was awarded with the Panetta Institute’s Jefferson-Lincoln Award in 2010.

In accepting the award, Ms. Roberts said of the Panetta Institute’s programs for students:  “It’s an island of civility in a sea of cacophony. It’s essential that graduates learn about public policy in this rational, interesting way.”

Ms. Roberts devoted most of her years in journalism to covering Congress, where her father Hale Boggs was a House majority leader who died in 1972 when his plane went missing over Alaska. Her mother, Lindy Boggs, took over his Louisiana congressional seat and served until 1990, later becoming ambassador to the Vatican.

“Because of her commitment to journalism and her deep understanding of Congress and our system of government,” said Secretary Panetta, “She will be missed.”

Secretary Panetta Warns About Backing Off From the Fight Against Terrorism in Washington Post Commentary

Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned against allowing the United States to be lured into “the false promise of isolationism” by withdrawing from the fight against terrorism.

Writing in the August 23 edition of The Washington Post, Secretary Panetta takes issue with President Trump’s plan to rapidly pull out of Syria. Secretary Panetta said that President Trump is essentially saying: “The Islamic State has been largely defeated and no longer represents a direct threat to our country. Let other, closer countries handle the faraway problem.”

“That has always been the false promise of isolationism ,” writes Secretary Panetta. “That distance can shield us from the threats in the world. It did not work for those who argued during the 1930s that the oceans could protect us from Nazi Germany. And it will not work in the twenty-first century in confronting the global threat of terrorism.”

Secretary Panetta warned that abandoning efforts to fight and contain the Islamic State and other terrorist groups amounts to an open invitation for them to re-establish a base of operations.

“Whether in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, the United States must remain focused on not allowing terrorists the opportunity to establish a base of operations from which to attack our country,” he writes. “Any agreement with terrorists will fail without a comprehensive plan of enforcement supported by the United States and the security forces of the country involved.”

Secretary Panetta added: “It would be nice if other nations took care of this problem for us. But they never have and never will. The last issue of concern to Iran, Russia, Turkey and Iraq is the national security of the United States. The responsibility for protecting our own country belongs to us and nobody else.”

“Yes, we have been fighting wars for too long since 9/11,” Secretary Panetta concludes. “But because of that fight and U.S. leadership, we have been able to protect the United States from another major terrorist attack. Unfortunately, that fight is far from over, and to pretend that it is could be a prescription for disaster.”

To read the entire commentary, click here.

Panetta Institute Hosts Twentieth Annual Student Leadership Seminar for University Student Body Officers from Across California

Student leaders from throughout California began an eight-day program on Sunday, June 9 at The Panetta Institute for Public Policy for the twentieth annual Leadership Seminar. The objectives of the seminar are to teach young men and women about leadership principles, strategies and practices; to send them back to their campuses and communities as more effective leaders; and to encourage them to pursue lives of public service.

Students in the Leadership Program heard from nearly two dozen speakers during their eight-day session.

Following a full seven days of seminars, on Saturday, June 15, the participants gave presentations on their personal perceptions of leadership and their plans to apply the lessons they have learned to Secretary and Mrs. Panetta, Panetta Institute professors and staff, and fellow student body officers.

Originally developed by a distinguished group of officials and visiting scholars, including former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros; former U.S. Representative Barbara Kennelly; Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam of Harvard; the late John Gardner, formerly of Stanford; the late Alice Rivlin, former chair of the Federal Reserve, the Education for Leadership in Public Service course reaches out to young leaders and gives them the tools they need to succeed.

Twenty-six student body presidents and other student leaders from throughout the California State University system as well as Saint Mary’s College of California attended.

“It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Thank you to all the staff that made the Leadership Seminar possible, not just for the week, but for the months beforehand that it takes to prepare for us to attend.”

— Aaron Castaneda, 2019 attendee 

This unique educational program featured classes on topics such as: leadership in Sacramento; in higher education; at the local, city and county levels; military leadership; leadership in sports; historical and ethical perspectives on leadership; leadership in criminal justice; media and journalism; community and grass-roots organizing; leadership challenges in the 21st century; and a discussion and exercise on consensus building featuring former elected officials from both political parties. There were also special sessions on conflict resolution and consensus building.

Among the program’s nearly two dozen presentations, events and exercises were discussions led by Institute Chairman and former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. Secretary Panetta spoke to the students on putting leadership theories into practice, and what he considers the top ten qualities of leadership. He also heard from the students on their leadership objectives.  The Institute also included a seminar on cyber security, which focused on steps young leaders can take to protect themselves and others against cyber crime.

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.”

“In our recent national poll,” explained Secretary Panetta, “we found that students are deeply dissatisfied with the quality of the country’s political leadership.  The purpose of the Leadership Seminar is to inspire students to transform that negative opinion into an interest in bringing positive change to our democracy through active participation and leadership. We want to ensure that these students become involved in the political process at every level and we want to foster a generation committed to lifelong participation in public service.”

Secretary Panetta Pays Tribute to Longtime Colleague Alice Rivlin

Secretary Panetta paid tribute to the late Alice Rivlin at a memorial service at Georgetown University on June 21, recalling their work together over many years as leaders of national economic policy.

Alice Rivlin

Ms. Rivlin, who died at the age of 88 on May 14 at her home in Washington, D.C., was Secretary Panetta’s top assistant at the White House Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton Administration, and succeeded him as director when he was named President Clinton’s chief of staff.

“I thought that Alice would be around forever fighting for what she believed was right for the country,” said Secretary Panetta “She gave so much to our country. Washington will not be the same without Alice.”

Secretary Panetta and Ms. Rivlin worked together many times over the years, both prior to and following their time in the White House.

Secretary Panetta recalled meeting her more than forty years ago, when both worked at what was then called the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. “Alice knew the pressures I was under and supported my decision to enforce the law,” Secretary Panetta said. “It eventually cost me my job. Alice was one of the first people to thank me for doing what was right regardless of the politics. That was the ‘Alice Rivlin Code of Conduct.’ I learned it from her.”

An expert in national economic affairs and a longtime advocate of finding bipartisan solutions to the country’s fiscal challenges, Ms. Rivlin frequently participated in a number of Panetta Institute programs. For many years she donated her time to the Institute by teaching and working with participants in the Panetta Institute Student Leadership Program and the Congressional Internship Program. She also appeared on stage at the Leon Panetta Lecture Series, and in 2011 was awarded a Jefferson-Lincoln Award at the Institute’s Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service.

Ms. Rivlin spent much of her career affiliated with the Brookings Institution, a leading Washington think tank, leaving that post several times to fill leading government offices, such as serving as founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board under Alan Greenspan.

“Although she was a Democrat, she was bipartisan at heart, and willing to encourage and support those, regardless of party, who were willing to stand up and do the right thing, particularly when it came to fiscal policy,” said Secretary Panetta. “Through her life, she fought for fiscal responsibility and expressed strong views about the failure of political leadership to make the tough decisions necessary for our economy. That is what made her an outstanding candidate to become the first director of the newly created Congressional Budget Office in 1975.”

Secretary Panetta paid tribute to her persistence in proposing and passing a balanced budget during the Clinton Administration. “I can’t tell you how helpful Alice was in convincing the president and his economic team that tough decisions on deficit reduction were needed for the sake of a strong economy,” he recalled. “When that budget finally passed by one vote in both the House and Senate, Alice and I felt a deep sense of relief that all of the past budget fights had finally paid off. When a balanced federal budget was finally achieved, I know there are a lot of politicians who take credit for that but the reality is that were it not for the persistence and dedication of Alice Rivlin, it would have never happened.”

Since then, the budget picture has changed. “We have gone from a balanced budget to a $22 trillion debt,” said Secretary Panetta. “Indeed, that was the subject of the book she was working on when she died.”

Ms. Rivlin is the author of the book “Reviving the American Dream: The Economy, the States & the Federal Government,” published in 1992 in which she argued that deficits were the biggest impediment to economic growth.

“Washington will be a sadder place without her spunk, spirit and will to fight,” Secretary Panetta concluded. “But perhaps if the memory of her courage can inspire future generations of leaders as it did in the past, we will forever be grateful for the code she established – fight for what is right regardless of the politics.

“It is a lesson our country needs to learn now more than ever.”

Results of 2019 Youth Civic Engagement Survey Find College Students Deeply Worried About the Country’s Direction Despite Positive Views of the Economy

In its latest nationwide survey of college students, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy has found a striking contrast between students’ generally positive impression of the United States economy and their very negative view of the country’s direction overall.

By the widest margin since the survey began asking the question in 2004, students describe the country as being “off on the wrong track” (64 percent) instead of moving in “the right direction” (36 percent), even though a record 59 percent of them rate the state of the economy as excellent or good and 71 percent express confidence that they’ll be able to find an acceptable job upon graduation.

“Clearly, when students think about the condition of the country, they’re looking beyond just national prosperity and their own economic prospects,” notes Institute chairman and former United States Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. “Their concerns go deeper, to the health of our democracy and the quality of our leaders.”

Indeed, the wide-ranging survey shows that student satisfaction with “the quality of the country’s political leadership” has dropped from 48 percent in the spring of 2016 to 34 percent today, and a majority of students (56 percent) see the high-performing economy as operating unfairly.

Also, when asked about the country’s future, only 31 percent of students describe themselves as “more confident and secure,” with 69 percent saying they’re “more uncertain and concerned” – the most pessimistic view recorded by the survey in more than two decades.

The Panetta Institute commissions this poll in the spring of each year to help guide its curriculum and advance its mission, which is to encourage young people to consider careers in public service and prepare them for the challenges they’ll face as future leaders. Conducted by Hart Research Associates, the study explores student attitudes and opinions on many topics, including social trends, level of political involvement, personal career expectations and a variety of national and international issues.

One of the more remarkable trends over the survey’s history has been the rise in student concern about climate change. When presented with a list of ten major issues facing the country, college students now pick “addressing climate change” as their number one priority.

“Here again we get an indication why students express such dismay with the direction of the country,” says Secretary Panetta. “With the lack of a national strategy to address climate change, students are worried about the consequences to them and the world they will inherit.”

Click here for a more complete review of the findings.

Leon Panetta 2019 Lecture Series Final Event Focusing on ‘The Hope of Our Forefathers’ Presented Monday, May 27

The fourth and final forum of the twenty-second annual Leon Panetta 2019 Lecture Series was Monday, May 27 and focused on What Was the Hope of Our Forefathers? Has it Worked? Joining moderator Secretary Leon E. Panetta were Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and CNN commentator; and Annette Gordon-Reed, American historian and Law Professor of American Legal History at Harvard University.

Secretary Panetta discusses America’s founders with Annette Gordon-Reed and Douglas Brinkley.

The lecture, held at the Monterey Conference Center, was the capstone of this year’s theme, “Checks and Balances – Will Our Democracy Survive?”

Broadcasts of the event are aired live throughout the Monterey Bay area and across the state by Comcast, Comcast Hometown Network, the California Channel, KQED and other cable networks. The lectures are also available for viewing on The Institute’s YouTube channel and via live web-streaming.

“The purpose of our constitutional system of checks and balances is to limit power in any one branch of government” said Panetta Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta, “Today that system is being tested – our laws, our courts, the congress, the press, our diplomatic and national security institutions, the people and their right to vote. These checks and balances will determine whether our democracy survives. We will discuss these challenges with an outstanding group of distinguished speakers.”

The first lecture in the series was on Monday, February 25, and featured a discussion of The Mueller Investigation, the Law and the Presidency and included James Clapper, USAF (Ret.), Director of National Intelligence Agency (2010-2017); Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR and a contributor to Fox News Channel; and Chuck Rosenberg, former Counsel to FBI Director Robert Mueller and former Chief of Staff to FBI Director James Comey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (2006-2008).

The second lecture was on Monday, March 25 and was  a discussion of The Role of the Press and the Congress, with Governor Chris Christie (New Jersey 2010-2018); Mark McKinnon, political advisor to President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, co-creator, co-executive producer, and co-host of Showtime’s The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth; and Mark Shields, political analyst with PBS NewsHour and syndicated columnist.

Gen. John Kelly with, from left, Adm. William McRaven, Nicholas Burns and Secretary Panetta, speaks to reporters before the April 15 lecture.

On Monday, April 15, Secretary Panetta hosted the third lecture in the series, featuring  Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (2005-2008); General John Kelly, USMC (Ret.), White House Chief of Staff (2017-2019); and Admiral William McRaven, USN (Ret.), Commander of the United States Special Operations (2011-2014).

Past lectures are available for viewing on the Panetta Institute website.


Record Number of Students Attend Afternoon Student Program

In addition to the evening program, Secretary Panetta and the invited speakers meet with hundreds of students from high schools, colleges and military institutions around the Central Coast who attend the Institute’s unique Afternoon Student Program held prior to each season’s evening lecture.

“The questions asked by the students demonstrate their interest and knowledge of the issues of the day,” said Secretary Panetta. “The speakers this year — to a person — commented on not only the number of interested students attending, but also in the quality of the questions.”

A record-number 1,200 students attended the first three Afternoon Student Program sessions.

The Afternoon Student Program is made possible by contributions from the sponsors of the Leon Panetta Lecture Series.

Monterey County Reads Analysis Suggests Positive Effect

A statistical analysis of the Panetta Institute’s longest running program, Monterey County Reads, appears to demonstrate a positive effect on students’ post-test scores.

Assessment data for the 2017-2018 school year was analyzed by experts at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, who reported the improvement, while also acknowledging that additional impacts, such as regular course work, influence from parents and even educational television, also can drive test score data.

“On the whole,” the report concludes, “the positive statistical difference in pre- and post-test scores demonstrates that the Monterey County Reads program is a benefit to the students.”

Monterey County Reads is offered to public elementary school students enrolled in first through third grade throughout Monterey County. This program especially addresses the needs of the lower socio-economic level of the county’s population by enlisting community volunteers come into the school to read one-to-one with the students.

During the twenty-two year history of Monterey County Reads, the Panetta Institute has analyzed data measuring children’s progress in reading. The Institute works to assure high quality program outcomes by conducting orientations at the beginning of the year with school site teams at each participating school, and performing pre- and post -assessments for every participating student.

Monterey County Reads is just one leg of a strategy to help the students who need assistance the most,” said Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “The commitment of teachers, other school officials and especially parents are part of the overall picture to addressing the very real need for literacy.”

“This report appears to indicate that Monterey County Reads is helping,” Mrs. Panetta added. “But it also demonstrates that schools, parents and the community all play a role.”

Global ‘Flashpoints’ Call Out for Better Leadership Here at Home, Secretary Panetta Says

A number of potentially dangerous flashpoints threaten the security of the United States and the world, said Secretary Leon E. Panetta at a wide-ranging talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C, on April 25. Secretary Panetta appeared at the event with John J. Hamre, CSIS president and CEO and by Alice Hunt Friend, CSIS senior fellow.

Secretary Panetta and CSIS Fellow Alice Hunt Friend.

“My fear is we’re not paying enough attention to the potential of any one of these flashpoints turning into a major confrontation,” Secretary Panetta said. “I’ve commented that it reminded me a lot of that period before World War I, and there were some of the same factors: territorial disputes; alliances that were not working as well as they should; terrorism; and, frankly, failed statesmanship, failed leadership in dealing with that, and thinking that somehow none of those flashpoints would suddenly turn into World War I.”

Secretary Panetta pointed to a number of areas of concern — and especially his worry that the political leadership of the United States is not meeting the challenges that the country faces.

Among the flashpoints:

  • Terrorism: “We just saw what happened in Sri Lanka. ISIS remains a real threat, along with al-Qaida, along with Boko Haram, along with al-Shabaab. These are real threats to our – to our security.”
  • Failed states in the Middle East: “We’ve seen what happened in Syria. We’ve seen what happened with Libya, with Yemen. These become the breeding grounds for terrorism in the future as well, and instability in the Middle East.”
  • Rogue nations: “North Korea and Iran represent threats to stability.”
  • Russia: “We have a much more aggressive Russia with Putin, seeking not only control of the Crimea, impacting on the Ukraine, deploying forces to Syria, and conducting probably one of the most bold and sweeping cyberattacks on our own election process in this country.”
  • China: “China is asserting its militarization of the South China Sea, developing its capabilities, and frankly, filling a lot of the vacuums that the United States has made through its whole Belt and Road Initiative.”
  • Cyber: “Cyber is the battlefield of the future and has the potential to literally destroy our country. You don’t have to use an F-35. You don’t have to send aB-2 bomber. You don’t have to put boots on the ground. You can simply sit at a computer and deploy a sophisticated virus that could literally paralyze our computer systems, our electric grid, our financial systems, our government systems, our banking systems – anything that runs by a computer.”

Making the situation worse, Secretary Panetta said, is a United States leadership that seems to be shrinking in its role as a world leader. Part of the diminishment is by design, he said, but a large part is due to questionable management and the lack of permanent leadership for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s very difficult to have civilian leadership at the Pentagon be on an acting basis, to have an acting secretary. Not only there, but at DHS and elsewhere. When you have an acting leader as opposed to having a full-fledged secretary of defense, make no mistake about it, it impacts on the morale of the institution and of the troops, because there’s a sense that an acting secretary is only temporary and not confirmed by the Senate.”

Secretary Panetta expressed concern about both the president and the political leaders in Congress. “I’m concerned about the president and some of the things he does that politicize the military – talking about his military, urging troops to lobby the Congress, using the military – deploying the military to border areas as part of a political statement,” he said.

As for members of Congress, he said, “I’m not so sure that today they think governing is good politics. They think stopping the other side is good politics. I’ve never seen Washington as partisan as it is today.”

Secretary Panetta: “Leadership is critical”

Secretary Panetta ended his talk by discussing the role of leadership, a founding principle in his creation of The Panetta Institute For Public Policy.

“Leadership is critical to everything we’ve talked about. I tell the students at the Panetta Institute that we govern either by leadership or crisis. If leadership is there and willing to take the risk associated with leadership, then we can avoid crisis. But if leadership is not there, we will inevitably govern by crisis, and my biggest concern today is we are, largely, a country that is governing by crisis and that undermines trust in our very institutions and in our very democracy.”

Secretary Panetta also touched on other subjects in his wide-ranging talk:

  • National Service: “All young people ought to give two years of their life to some kind of national service to this country. I don’t care whether it’s education, or conservation, or health care, or education – whatever it is, the military – give two years of your life back to this country. Serve this country. And then, you know, we can provide a GI bill with benefits, rather than trying to figure out how we forgive student loans or, you know, give free education. You know, if these people serve, we ought to be willing to provide GI benefits to allow them to get a good education. That’s the way to do it. It’s in return for service to the country.”
  • Building Global Alliances: “There’s no question that we are a strong nation. But to then take that strength and be able to convert it into the opportunity to provide necessary leadership so you can build those alliances based on the same values – I mean, what makes us strong as a country are our values, who we are. That’s critical. We need to build alliances. We need to, obviously, strengthen NATO. We need to build an alliance with the ASEAN countries in Asia. We need to build alliances in Latin and Central America. We need to build alliances with our moderate Arab friends in the Middle East and Israel. I mean, the ability to create those alliances is not easy. It requires U.S. leadership. And who provides that U.S. leadership in helping to build those alliances? The State Department, our diplomats, along with our military commanders, working together. That is what can provide for the security of the United States in the future. And if we undercut one of those capabilities, if we weaken it, then we are weakening our ability to provide that necessary leadership.”
  • Transparency in Government: “I think it’s important obviously to make clear to the public what we are doing. Look, obviously there are classified areas that you’re not going to share. But at the same time, I think the public is entitled to know what is taking place. It’s the men and women in uniform that you are putting on the line, who are putting their lives on the line. I think the American people need to understand the sacrifices that are being made and the decisions that are being made that impact on our national security. And to somehow to try to avoid being transparent with the American people I think undermines support for the very department and for the very missions that the department has to implement. So I am a believer in transparency. I’m a believer that, you know, we deal – you deal with the press, because it’s the press that then presents that information to the American people.”

Monterey County Matriarch and Longtime Panetta Institute Supporter Sue Antle Dies

Sue Antle

Sue Merrill Crawford Antle, a longtime leader in the local community and a former board member of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, died on March 7, 2019, at her Salinas home, surrounded by her loving family.

“Sue and her late husband Bob were valued friends and supporters of the Panetta Institute,” said Chairman Leon E. Panetta. “Together they were a great force for good in agriculture and in the community. The success of the Panetta Institute is in large measure due to their  leadership, loyalty and generosity.”

“Sue Antle was a key member of our board after her husband passed away.” said Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “As a board member and volunteer for the Panetta Institute’s Monterey County Reads program, she gave us hour upon hour of her time in helping us to meet our goal of encouraging and preparing young people for success in their adult years.”

Born on February 23, 1936, in Watsonville, California, Mrs. Antle is remembered along with her late husband as creating a legacy in the heart of Salinas Valley agriculture and for her support of countless community organizations and projects.

Mrs. Antle was raised on a farm in the hills of Browns Valley and met the love of her life, Bob Antle, while attending Watsonville High School. Growing up in Corralitos, Sue was active in 4-H, raising her beloved cow, Blossom, as well as excelling in Home Economics, especially sewing.

Over the course of their 58-year love affair, Mr. and Mrs. Antle created a legacy of their own. As a young couple, they followed the lettuce harvest season with their four small children, with Sue orchestrating the family home, while Bob managed Bud Antle Inc. Throughout the years, Mrs. Antle welcomed many employees and business associates into their home and family life.

During their golden years, Mr. and Mrs. embraced their passion for the enrichment of their community. Mrs. Antle took great joy in co-chairing the “Have a Heart” fundraiser for Cal State Monterey Bay for many years. Her lifelong passion for reading is best illustrated in her dedication to reading books with the many children as part of the Monterey County Reads program run by the Panetta Institute. Her legacy will provide the foundation for children of field workers to be first generation graduates of CSUMB, Cal Poly and Hartnell College.

Mrs. Antle was preceded in death by her husband, Bob, eldest son, Rick and brother, Bill Mauk. She is survived by her twin daughters, Kathy Antle and Karen Hebl, her son, Mike Antle (Cass), and daughter-in-law, Tonya Antle. She is also survived by seventeen grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, Martha Chavez, and her loving and devoted family of caregivers.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at 11:00 a.m., Church of the Good Shepherd, 301 Corral de Tierra Road, Salinas, California with a reception to follow. The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mrs. Antle’s memory to: VNA & Hospice P. O. Box 2480 Monterey, CA 93942.

Research Fellows Complete Their Research into Bipartisan Approaches to Today’s Biggest Issues

Six law-school students from the Santa Clara University Law School have completed their studies into several key public-policy issues facing the nation today, from immigration and abortion rights to cyber-security and housing.

Fellows studied at the Panetta Institute for an entire semester, researching and presenting realistic in-depth approaches to policy that address the concerns of competing interests. By the conclusion of the semester, each student presented a proposal that demonstrated the use of analytic tools as well as the knowledge of how policies move from the theoretical to actual implementation.

Fellows from Santa Clara University Law School gathered for an orientation luncheon with Secretary and Mrs. Panetta, Institute professors and visitors from Santa Clara University .

The semester began on January 11 at the Panetta Institute with an orientation luncheon attended by the new fellows, Secretary and Mrs. Panetta, Institute professors and representatives of Santa Clara University.

The Fellows Program was created in the spring of 2006 in collaboration with the Santa Clara University School of Law.  Since then, eighty-seven law students have completed the program. The course of study was formulated by Secretary Leon Panetta and focuses 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.

“Essentially, we are teaching the fellows the art of governing,” says Secretary Panetta. “They do research on both the Republican and the Democratic positions on major national issues and then develop a consensus on what compromise would look like.”

Each of the six fellows did their in-depth research on the following topics:

  • Elaine Chou — CYBER-SECURITY/Regulation of social media.
  • Joseph Eisenberg — FOREIGN POLICY/Withdrawal from Syria, Involvement versus Isolationism
  • Sharon Morales — IMMIGRATION REFORM/Enforcement, Legalization, Employer Regulations, Worker Rights
  • Maritza Ponce — SOCIAL POLICY/Legalization or Limitation of Abortion Rights, Regulation of Abortion and Political Realities of the Issue.
  • Jared Renteria — HOUSING/Establishing Affordable Housing and Addressing Homelessness — the role of government and the private sector.
  • Erica Skeels — DISABILITY POLICY/ Enforcement Challenges of the Americans With Disability Act, Benefits, Reasonable Accommodations and Enforcement.

Throughout the academic semester, fellows explored the diverse political, social, and economic contexts within which public policy is developed. Fellows examined the history, foundations, and theories of public policy and gain real-world insight into the field. They examined demographic data, budget concerns and current social trends and themes to understand, analyze, and address the current policy issues that face the nation.

They were guided by Secretary Panetta and Institute professors Sonia Banks, an attorney and educator who leads the program; Fred Keeley, former California State Assemblyman; Bill Daniels, attorney and lecturer; and Richard Kezirian, an Institute professor.

“The Fellows Program focuses on research that would lead to policy solutions addressing this country’s very real problems. Panetta Institute Fellows examine not just the easy policy answers, but instead at what compromise between divided factions actually would look like,” said Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta. “Participating students work directly with experienced professionals with legal, historical, educational and political perspectives.”

Sylvia Panetta Pays Tribute to Former Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski

Sylvia Panetta paid tribute to retiring Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski at her retirement celebration December 4, praising her for  being “the kind of public servant we hope to inspire our Panetta Institute students to emulate.”

Dr. Nancy Kotowski speaks at a recent Panetta Institute tribute to Monterey County Reads volunteers and schools.

Dr. Kotowski served as superintendent of the 24-district County Office of Education for three terms, beginning in 2007. She helped establish a number of partnerships with other organizations throughout the county, including the Panetta Institute.

Mrs. Panetta recalled meeting Dr. Kotowski more than twenty years ago. “We first met when the Panetta Institute was working to launch the America Reads program here in Monterey County. I knew that it would be a significant undertaking to bring community and college volunteers into the classrooms of Monterey County elementary schools and that we would need a strong partner who would be equally committed to matching reading volunteers with children struggling to grasp vital literacy skills. Today, thanks to the strong partnership we formed with Nancy, the County Office of Education and school districts, the program we now call Monterey County Reads is in its twenty-second year and has placed more than 3,700 volunteers who have read nearly 134,500 hours reading one-to-one with more than 19,200 children.”

“Nancy is a huge part of that,” Mrs. Panetta continued. “She was also instrumental in our work to ensure that the Leon Panetta Lecture Series Student Program provides a forum for high school, college, university and military students to become better educated, better informed and inspired about key policy issues from our speakers — national leaders.”

Dr. Kotowski is succeeded by Dr. Deneen Guss, who served as deputy superintendent for five years, and was sworn in January 7.

In taking her leave from the position, Dr. Kotowski said, “I am most grateful to the people of Monterey County for entrusting me with the leadership of public education for our children and our youth. The relationships and partnerships we have are wide and deep throughout the county.”

Mrs. Panetta took further note of Dr. Kotowski’s leadership, saying: “In the face of challenges created by the diverse socioeconomic make-up of the Central Coast, the harsh reality of limited financial and staffing resources and the complex leadership challenges of working with twenty-four school districts serving approximately 77,000 students, Nancy has always succeeded for our children.”

Don’t Give Up on Equality in the Military, Secretary Panetta Writes in The Washington Post

Secretary Leon E. Panetta has defended his decision as Defense Secretary in 2013 to open all military jobs to women, writing in The Washington Post on March 11 that “the military has a responsibility to uphold the most fundamental American value of equality of opportunity for all.”

“Our military readiness has improved by giving every qualified individual the opportunity to serve. Since 2013, women have done the hard work of breaking through the previous barriers in a series of remarkable firsts: the first women to graduate from the Army’s Ranger School, the first woman to graduate from the Marine Corps’ infantry officer basic course, the first women to integrate into Army infantry units, the first woman to become an Airborne Ranger, and just this year, the first woman graduated from the Marine Corps’ highly challenging Winter Mountain Leaders Course. This list will continue to grow….”

Secretary Panetta responded to recent criticism that elimination of official gender discrimination has not been successful.

“Unfortunately, there are those who still hold on to the prejudices of the past despite the realities of the present and future,” Secretary Panetta wrote. “Some have recently resurfaced arguments that women don’t belong in combat, arguing that the military lowered the physical standards to accept women in those jobs, and that women are disruptive to unit cohesion.”

Secretary Panetta said that those arguments are as baseless as they were when he enacted the policy six years ago.

“First, with respect to lowering the standards and negatively affecting combat readiness, nothing could be further from the truth,” he wrote. “In fact, gender-neutral physical standards were created for every job previously closed, whereas before the only standard had been gender. The military spent three years conducting extensive scientific studies and determined exactly what physical and mental skills and abilities are needed for each job.”

By opening all jobs to women, Secretary Panetta argued, actual military readiness has improved, he said. As for another argument, that “eros” will be added into combat units, he said, “Blaming women and banning them from serving in particular jobs is hardly the appropriate response.”

Rather, the military would be better off  to change a culture “that had historically regarded women as less than equal to men.”

To read Secretary Panetta’s commentary, click here.

Secretary Panetta on the Government Shutdown: ‘The Nation is in Crisis’

Secretary Panetta wrote in a commentary for The Hill national website January 15 that the federal government shutdown has put the nation “in a major crisis.”

“The president let the shutdown happen and has made clear that he will not agree to reopen government without Congress approving funds for his border wall,” Secretary Panetta wrote.

“The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has made clear through its new speaker that it will not approve funds for a border wall but, once the government is opened up, would be willing to negotiate on a comprehensive border security proposal, he added. “(And) the Republican-controlled Senate, through its majority leader, has made it clear that it will do nothing without the president’s approval.”

Secretary Panetta said that the shutdown has significant consequences. “The shutdown of the government, although partial, is impacting important agencies responsible for the security and safety of the country: Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, TSA, air traffic controllers, the Justice Department, the FBI and other enforcement agencies are being constrained.” He continued,  “And, of course, the most innocent victims of all — the 800,000 federal employees and their families — are being forced to live without their paychecks, facing the ultimate dilemma of having to choose between rent and food.”

In looking toward a solution, Secretary Panetta explained how this country’ forefathers established a system of checks and balances. “That system has worked effectively for more than 200 years to limit power, but it also led to periods of legislative gridlock. We are in one of those periods of total gridlock with the current partial shutdown of the federal government. Each of the parties has dug in.”

“I doubt that our forefathers ever envisioned such a total breakdown of leadership in both the executive and legislative branches of government,” Secretary Panetta wrote.  “It would have been unimaginable that the elected leaders of the people would stand by helplessly while innocent men, women and children were being harmed by a government shutdown.”

Secretary Panetta concluded, “We elect our leaders to govern, not to tolerate chaos. Even in political gridlock, our forefathers provided a path to govern if there is a willingness to lead. The Congress should vote to open the government, even if it means overriding a presidential veto…. If those elected fail to lead, they can be thrown out of office. Welcome to democracy.

Click here to read the commentary.

Panetta Institute Interns Recount the Many Lessons Learned While Working in Washington

Two participants in the 2018 class of the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program have shared their stories about what it’s like to be part of the celebrated program by telling news outlets of their experience.

Tyler Burch, a student from California State University at San Marcos, told the Escondido Grapevine about his firsthand experience of working in a Congressional office. “I don’t think people who don’t work directly with government have an understanding of how much they do,” Mr. Burch said in the February 1 edition of the Grapevine.

“I feel like when I talk to people, they expect that Congress members have staffs that are so big. But they don’t realize your congressional staff in a D.C. office is eight people – and they do everything that has to do with the Congress member’s legislative agenda.”

Another intern, Tori Hust of CSU Fullerton, told the Orange County Register in its February 6 edition how as an intern to then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D) San Francisco, she stood among the protesters during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings and with the thousands of people lined up waiting to pay their final respects to the late Sen. John McCain.

Intern Tori Hust with Secretary and Mrs. Panetta

“There was never a slow day in that office,” said Ms. Hust, who  was in the nation’s capital from August 18 to November 3. She told the Register that she  worked with senior advisers on health care and the budget and sat in on two “kitchen cabinet” meetings, a rarity for interns.

“For me, it was really interesting to see firsthand some of the biggest issues Congress is facing,” Ms. Hust, a third-year student with a major in political science a minor in public policy.

Mr. Burch also reported that the internship gave him the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the his office. His first duties were providing tours to visiting constituents, reported the Grapevine. But it wasn’t long before his responsibilities expanded.

“Once they get to trust you a little bit more, then they do things like send you to congressional hearings,” he said. “You take notes and write up memos to the rest of the office or whoever is interested in that legislative area.

“It involved a lot of writing. I appreciated that because it gives you a lot of experience with legislation that you don’t get otherwise. …It was really nice because I started dealing with the legislative side, which is really what I wanted to learn.”

Both Ms. Hust and Mr. Burch praised the program for its emphasis on non-partisanship.

“That is something the Panetta Institute really focuses on — nonpartisan policies and really working across the aisle, Ms. Hurst said. “(Secretary Panetta) is a person who could work across the aisle to get things done.”

Tyler Burch in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Burch, who worked in the office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal, (D) Long Beach, said he was comfortable working with either party. His interest in environmental policy as it pertains to economics led to his placement in the office of Lowenthal, who is on multiple environmental committees.

Mr. Burch said he is considering working in a political office for a year after graduating and eventually applying to law school. Ms. Hust said she plans to apply to universities where she can go to law school and get a master’s degree in public policy. She has an interest in election law and transparency.

Summing up his experience, Mr. Burch recalled, “It was incredible We stayed a 10-minute walk from the Capitol building. Every morning, myself and whoever in the cohort had to go in earlier than the other interns – not all offices start at the same time – we would wake up at seven a.m. and walk from where we were staying to the Capitol. It was really cool.”

Secretary Panetta Receives Prestigious Honor from West Point Association of Graduates

Secretary Panetta reviews the West Point’s Corps of Cadets as 2018 Thayer Award recipient.                                                                                                                         Photos by Allyse Pulliam, Courtesy of the Middletown Times Herald-Record

Secretary Panetta received the 2018 Sylvanus Thayer Award on October 4, 2018 from the West Point Association of Graduates — the group’s top award for a United States citizen other than a West Point graduate.

West Point Association of Graduates Board Chairman Lt. Gen. Joseph E. DeFrancisco, (USA, Ret.) Class of 1965, said, “Having Secretary Panetta forever associated with West Point through the Thayer Award speaks directly to its purpose of recognizing a citizen of the United States, other than a West Point graduate, whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives. His life of service to our nation truly exemplifies the West Point values of ‘Duty, Honor, Country.’”

Secretary Panetta, in his acceptance speech at West Point, said he accepted it not for himself but “on behalf of the winner of the award sixteen years ago.” In 2002, the award was presented not to an individual but to the American Soldier at large.

Secretary Panetta told a gathering of West Point graduates, “Every time I signed a deployment order, I said a silent Hail Mary that they would all return.”

The Thayer Award is named for Col. Sylvanus Thayer, the fifth superintendent of West Point. Thayer is known as the Father of the Military Academy because he established many practices and traditions that continue to this day. The award is presented each year to an American citizen whose life of service to the nation embodies the West Point motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.”

Secretary Panetta meets with West Point’s Brigade Staff.                         Photo by Allyse Pullium, Times Herald-Record

Lt. Gen. DeFrancisco added: “The West Point Association of Graduates is honored to present the Thayer Award to Secretary Panetta. His distinguished public service career has spanned five decades, starting in 1964 as a U.S. Army intelligence officer, to time as a Congressman, to leading several national agencies and serving in high-ranking positions for two U.S. Presidents, through today as Chairman of an institute devoted to attracting men and women to lives of public service.

Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, West Point’s superintendent, said Secretary Panetta’s career was clearly undertaken in response to President John F. Kennedy’s call in his 1961 inaugural address to “ask what you can do for your country.”

“Thank you for your example of being a leader of character,” Lt. Gen. Williams said.

Secretary Panetta told the cadets they are becoming leaders at an especially dangerous time in the world, and mentioned terrorism, a new chapter in the Cold War with Russia, increased tensions with China and cyber attacks. “If the United States fails to provide leadership in a troubled world, no one else will,” he said.

Federal Government Shutdown a Big Mistake, Secretary Panetta Writes in The Washington Post

Secretary Leon E. Panetta wrote in a Washington Post commentary on December 28 that government shutdowns are “a bad way to do the country’s business” and will have political ramifications as well.

“There are no winners in a prolonged shutdown, Secretary Panetta writes. “As the midterm elections made clear — those who fail the nation will not only lose the trust of the people, they will likely lose the next election.”

Secretary Panetta recalls the budget breakdown between President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress in late 1995. Secretary Panetta was White House budget director at the time, and he recalls “that the longer the shutdown went on, the more the public blamed the Republicans.”

“Since that time, the leaders of both parties have recognized that shutdowns are a bad way to do the country’s business, Secretary Panetta writes. “And yet, time and time again, the lessons from those shutdowns are never learned.”

He listed five lessons “that never seem to be learned”:

  • Harming people never works.
  • The more you blame others, the more the public blames you.
  • Negotiations are impossible without trust.
  • Never negotiate in public.
  • If the president fails, Congress must lead.

“We govern either by leadership or by crisis,” Secretary Panetta concludes. “If leadership is willing to take the risks that come with the responsibility of power, we can avoid crisis. If not, we will inevitably govern by crisis. There are no winners in a prolonged shutdown.”

To read the commentary, click here.

Televised Argument Over Immigration is ‘How Not to Run a Country,’ Secretary Panetta Says

Secretary Panetta: “A terrible message to the American people.”

The televised argument between President Trump and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at the White House December 11 was “a perfect example of how not to run a country, ” Secretary Panetta said on a televised interview on MSNBC.

Shortly after the debate was filmed by television cameras, Secretary Panetta appeared on MSNBC, where host Andrea Mitchell asked him whether he had ever witnessed such a scene.

“To confront each other that way and to have everybody yell at one another that way is to send a terrible message to the American people about how our democracy functions in Washington,” Secretary Panetta said.

“When you’re in the Oval Office the best position to take is to say ‘we have to discuss these issues and we’re not going to do it openly in front of the press. Period,” he added. “It’s much better to say ‘We’re here to discuss this. We’re not going to do it in front of the press.”

Secretary Panetta said of President Trump: “This is a president who talks about invasions, about this country being under siege by immigrants. Facts don’t matter a great deal to this president.”

That’s why a televised argument was a bad idea, Secretary Panetta said. “We all understand this is a challenging issue. Border security does need to be increased. Rational minds ought to be able to find a way to increase security at the border without this argument over whether or not we build a wall.”

“The issue is that we can develop border security and that ought to be what the president, Democrats and Republicans all decide.”

To see the interview, click here.

Secretary Panetta Pays Tribute to John McCain as an ‘American Patriot’

Secretary Panetta attended the funeral service in Washington and paid tribute to the life and service of Senator John McCain in an article for Fortune magazine’ on August 29, 2018, calling him “one of the great American patriots of our time.”

“His life was the very definition of patriotism,” wrote Secretary Panetta, “bravery in battle, devotion to country, faith in the values of our democracy, and the courage to fight and keep fighting for a better America.”

The relationship between the two goes back to 1982, when then-Congressman McCain joined Secretary Panetta in the House of Representatives.

“John was never the easiest person to get along with but then again, no patriot is. Their first concern is not whether they are loved, but whether our country is loved.”
                                            — Secretary Panetta

Secretary Panetta soon figured out that the new congressman was out of the ordinary. “Even after over five years as a POW in Vietnam, he still had the midshipman’s ‘raise hell’ attitude that earned him so many demerits at the Naval Academy. He picked fights with his colleagues almost coming to blows on the floor of the House. He challenged his leadership leading the charge to reverse the Catastrophic Health Care Bill supported by President Reagan. Whatever the cause, he was both maverick and fighter.”

There was more to him than that. “There was a genuine humanity and good humor. He spent hours visiting with former Congressman Mo Udall, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. There were moments on the House floor after an emotional debate when there were tears in his eyes. But it was that mix of emotion, boldness and caring that served him well in Congress and got him elected to the Senate.”

Secretary Panetta also saw McCain’s rise to leadership. “I personally witnessed his influence in the world – defending America when necessary, but always standing by his view that America must lead. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he supported a strong defense and led the passage of some of the most important reforms in seven decades at the Department of Defense. He was tough, fair and totally devoted to a bipartisan approach to national defense.”

Secretary Panetta worked closely with Senator McCain on matters of intelligence. “As Director of the CIA, I personally briefed him on our most sensitive operations and always, after a number of intense questions, he gave his support. He believed that intelligence was critical to our national defense.”

As for a commitment to bipartisanship, Secretary Panetta recalled, “In the last few years, we both commiserated over the partisanship that was slowly eroding the ability of Congress to get anything done. He spoke of the importance of governing when The Panetta Institute for Public Policy honored both he and Senator Russell Feingold for their bipartisan work on election financing reforms.”

(Senators McCain and Feingold were honored in 2002 at the Panetta Institute’s Jefferson-Lincoln Awards: An Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service gala.)

“He hated political gridlock. In many ways, I believe his now famous thumbs down on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was his way of saying he believed loyalty to country was more important than loyalty to party.”

Secretary Panetta concluded: “I last saw John in Washington when he was in a wheelchair. We met in the Capitol to discuss our mutual concerns about North Korea. He still had that sparkle in his eye that made clear he had not lost his will to fight to the end. John was never the easiest person to get along with but then again, no patriot is. Their first concern is not whether they are loved, but whether our country is loved. Because of his devotion to the nation, he is, and always will be, an American patriot.”

Storybooks Distributed to Students as Monterey County Reads Marks Another Year

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

Nearly eight hundred books were distributed again last year to children participating in the twenty-first year of the Monterey County Reads, the Panetta Institute’s award-winning program that includes thousands of volunteers committed to fighting illiteracy in Monterey County.

As the school year came to an end, the storybooks were distributed in recognition of students’ efforts in reading improvement. Monterey County Reads serves ten school districts throughout Monterey County.

“It was so nice to see the students’ progress and pride in their improved skills.”

–Martha Delaney, Volunteer,
Fremont Elementary School,

The cumulative numbers of storybooks distributed in Monterey County Reads‘ twenty-one year history demonstrates the breadth of this program. In that time, nearly 18,000 books have been distributed to the children participating in the program.

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

The Institute has continued to broaden its focus on community volunteers; for the 2017-18 school year, 169 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’s Take on President Trump: ‘This is Not Who We Are’

Outraged by President Donald Trump’s “vulgar and disparaging remark about immigrants to our country from poor and impoverished areas of the world,” Secretary Panetta declared “This is not who we are,” in a commentary published January 17, 2018 on the CNN Opinion website.

“The remark is unsurprising,” wrote Secretary Panetta, “It came from a president who seeks to close our country off from the rest of the world.”

Secretary Panetta: “Immigrants live the American Dream.”

Secretary Panetta cited President Trump’s various proposals, including travel bans on visitors from some Muslim-majority nations, building harmful walls, deporting thousands of immigrants and even ending protections for hundreds of thousands of law-abiding recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs (DACA).

“It is important that the world knows that, although he may be president, Donald Trump does not speak for the overwhelming majority of Americans. This is not who we are,” wrote Secretary Panetta.

“I am the son of Italian immigrants who came to this country from an impoverished area of Italy. Like millions of other immigrants, they came because they believed they could give their children a better life in this country. That is the American dream. That is who we are.”

Secretary Panetta referred to words on the the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” He cited immigrants who have served honorably in the military. He also pointed out that President Trump is the grandson of immigrants and is married to an immigrant.

“We are a land of immigrants,” Secretary Panetta wrote. “The diversity this confers on America is our strength because immigrants live the American Dream. They and their families are part of our communities, our schools, our businesses, our workforce. We all pledge allegiance to the same flag — to ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ That is who we are.

He concluded by urging Congress to pass the Dream Act in order to protect a path to citizenship for the 800,000 Dreamers currently living in our country — the only home they have ever known. “America must remain the beacon of hope to the world because that is who we are and always will be.”

Here is a link to Secretary Panetta’s commentary.

Protection Against Offshore Drilling Will Require a Bipartisan Effort, Secretary Panetta Writes in The Los Angeles Times

Secretary Panetta has warned in a commentary published in The Los Angeles Times that the federal government is again threatening to open up California’s waters to oil drilling.

“A long-standing moratorium on offshore oil drilling off the California coast is now at risk,” Secretary Panetta warned in a commentary published in the February 8, 2018 edition.

Last year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed opening up nearly the entire outer continental shelf of the United States for oil and gas exploration, including six of them off California’s coast.

“He had the temerity to suggest that the leases would provide billions of dollars ‘to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands and parks,’ ” Secretary Panetta wrote.

The proposal came many years after California’s elected officials from both parties worked to protect the coast from drilling, Secretary Panetta wrote. “More than thirty-five years ago, I worked with my Republican colleagues in both houses of Congress to impose a moratorium on offshore oil drilling in federal waters along the California coast. We understood that drilling posed too grave a threat to the state’s coastline, one of the nation’s greatest natural and commercial assets.”

Secretary Panetta added that the impact of drilling extends beyond environmental damage. “Opposition to drilling is as much about the economy as it is about the environment: Tourism, fishing and ocean recreation sustain tens of billions of dollars of economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs in our state annually. It makes no sense to risk damaging that economic vitality with catastrophic oil spills and pollution, especially with the rise in renewable energy sources. The United States has clean, renewable energy alternatives; there is simply no need for new oil drilling now.

Secretary Panetta called on Republicans as well as Democrats to fight to protect the coast. “It was a bipartisan responsibility in the 1980s, and it remains a bipartisan responsibility today.”

To read the commentary, click here.

Panetta Institute Continues Tradition of Honoring Public Servants Who Fight to Protect our Democracy

Secretary Panetta: “We are very proud of the strong legacy of the Jefferson-Lincoln alumni. Their work on behalf of our democracy is the truest representation of love of country.”

In awarding its Jefferson-Lincoln Awards each year, the Panetta Institute continues a tradition of honoring public officials and dedicated journalists who continue to fight for the most important tenets of American democracy, standing up for compromise, principled leadership and transparency in governing.

More than fifty individuals have been recognized since the first program in 2000. Many of them have continued to serve our democracy with honor and a commitment to principle.

Speaking at the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards dinner, Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta said, “Tonight’s honorees join an impressive list of other recipients who continue to do the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards proud in their work on behalf of our democracy. We continue to be proud of their leadership.”

One of the Institute’s earliest honorees was the late John McCain, United States Senator (R), Arizona. A 2002 recipient, Senator McCain was recognized alongside United State Senator Russell Feingold (D), Wisconsin for their landmark bipartisan campaign finance legislation. Senator McCain had spoken out about the need for healthcare reform to be a bipartisan process. Together with 2005 Jefferson-Lincoln Award winner Senator Susan Collins (R), Maine and 2016 recipient Senator Lisa Murkowski (R), Alaska, the three legislators were the only Republican votes against the Graham-Cassidy Bill which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act.

Senators Collins and Murkowski were equally passionate about the need to vote on principle rather than party loyalty. Reflecting on the historic vote, Senator Collins commented, “We must work together across party lines to develop healthcare reform and we must stop allowing partisanship to be a preexisting condition that prevents meaningful health reform.” Senator Murkowski withstood aggressive persuasion from the Trump administration and the president himself regarding her vote on the legislation, before eventually voting against the bill. Most recently, she led a bipartisan coalition in a visit to Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands to assess recovery from extreme hurricane damage.

John McCain

Dianne Feinstein

Lisa Murkowski

Susan Collins

Robert Mueller







Another 2005 Jefferson-Lincoln Award winner, Senator Dianne Feinstein, has resisted pressure from the more extreme factions of her party in refusing to back the impeachment of President Trump. She instead called for “patience” over his presidency and has worked to take a measured and serious approach to her work on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

In this effort, she is joined by Robert Mueller, a 2016 Jefferson-Lincoln honoree whose selection as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation was praised by members of both parties. For himself, Mr. Mueller has assumed his work with the seriousness it merits saying simply, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”

Wolf Blitzer

David Brooks

Judy Woodruff

Mrs. Panetta also paid tribute to past journalism honorees like David Brooks, Judy Woodruff, Wolf Blitzer and others who continue to inform the public and set the examples of the importance of a free press.

Reflecting on the legacy of the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards and their import Panetta Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta remarked, “We have always seen the purpose of the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards as two-fold. First, we want to recognize and celebrate those public servants who put a commitment to good governing above loyalty to party. Second, we want to illuminate their achievements so that their work can serve as an inspiration to others. We are very proud of the strong legacy our Jefferson-Lincoln alumni are creating. Their work on behalf of our democracy is the truest representation of love of country.”

Panetta Institute Research Report Makes a Case for an Enhanced National Service Program

The Panetta Institute for Public Policy has released a study of national service programs, citing their extensive benefits to the country and urging expansion of service opportunities to all Americans.

In the report’s introduction, former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta, who chairs the Institute, states: “It is important that we restore a sense of duty to the nation in all of our people. Like our nation’s founders, we believe that voluntary service to country is essential to a successful democracy. National service can strengthen our citizens’ love of country and instill in our youth a needed sense of purpose.”

The study examines a wide range of national service programs such as AmeriCorps, VISTA, the Peace Corps, Job Corps and City Year, calling them highly cost-effective in providing needed services while giving participants a work experience that can benefit them for the rest of their lives.

The study was conducted by the Institute’s Research Fellows – upper-level students from the University of Santa Clara School of Law. They looked at the history of military and non-military service in the United States and abroad and at efforts to promote a service ethic.

As summarized in the report, some of the benefits of a broad-based national service system include:

  • instilling in participants a sense of duty, purpose and engagement to the nation;
  • helping students earn the money to assist with their education;
  • giving young people useful skills that can lead to better jobs in the future;
  • providing cost-effective voluntary assistance in disaster response, conservation, education, health care, help for the elderly and other service efforts; and
  • building leadership abilities and a sense of shared citizenship by bringing people of different backgrounds together in support of an important goal.

Secretary Panetta: “National service can strengthen our citizens’ love of country and instill in our youth a needed sense of purpose.”

The report points out that nearly three thousand bipartisan mayors and county leaders across the country are on record in support of national service and its positive impact in their communities. The idea historically has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress and the White House. Each of our last four presidents – two Republicans and two Democrats – called for an expansion of opportunities to serve.

And yet, the study notes, America’s national service programs are chronically under-funded, with the great majority of qualified applicants being denied the opportunity to serve.

In its recommendations, the report stresses the role of the private sector in helping to fund national service programs at the community level. It urges significant efforts to mobilize further financial support and highlights the benefits of national service initiatives.

“We are deeply grateful to the men and women that serve our nation in uniform,” said Secretary Panetta. “But it is important that all young people are given the opportunity to serve in some capacity. That fact is that the national service structure is basically already in place, but for each position filled, a dozen individuals are turned away because of inadequate funding and support. We as citizens and policymakers have a responsibility to provide those opportunities and reestablish service as a way of life in this country.”

The full report is available here.

Congressional Intern Says Program ‘Changed Me as a Citizen’

California State University, Channel Islands student Jenna Kushigemachi describes her experience in the 2016 Panetta Institute Congressional Internship Program and states that it “changed me as a citizen” after spending eleven weeks on Capitol Hill.

CSUCI student Jenna Kushigemachi with Secretary Leon Panetta and Sylvia Panetta.

“It was really spectacular — I got to work on actual policy,” Ms. Kushigemachi told the college’s Channel Magazine in its Spring, 2017 edition. “I drafted and went to congressional briefings. I got up every day and worked in the Capitol Building.”

“We got to learn from the experts,” she said. “I came back with much more knowledge than most people have. You don’t get that experience anywhere else.”

Ms. Kushigemachi, a graduating art and digital media student, said her experience in the Congressional Internship Program expanded her horizons. “I really wanted to show that art is what I study in school, but not all that I can do,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you have the opportunity you can’t miss it.”

In addition to the lectures and presentations that are part of the program, Ms. Kushigemachi said, working as an intern in the office of Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-California) presented her with the opportunity of learning how business is done in Washington. “I’ve walked through where they do interviews,” she said. “I sat in those offices every day for three months. I’ve passed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the hallway.”

“It changed me as a citizen and I understand the impact of participating” she said. “It really increases your level of patriotism, passing your country’s leaders in the hallway on the Hill.”

Here is a link to the Channel Magazine article.

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.

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 commission begun in 2016 on violent extremism that aims to help the 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 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 study 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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