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

Secretary Panetta was the featured speaker at Santa Clara University School of Law’s commencement ceremony May 20, 2017 at the university, telling graduates that democracy will mean nothing if Americans aren’t willing to fight for the rule of law.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Leon Panetta was honored with the first-ever Forward Thinker Award January 26, 2017 by California Forward, a non-partisan public interest group co-founded by Secretary Panetta ten years ago.

Secretary Panetta was presented the Forward Thinker Award.

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

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

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

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

Secretary Panetta Challenges Cal Poly Students to Engage in Public Service

Secretary Leon E. Panetta gave two commencement addresses at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Saturday, June 11, 2016, calling on graduates to do their part to help the United States fulfill its potential in the years to come.

“I believe we are at a turning point in this year of 2016,” Panetta told the graduates. “I think America can take one of two paths into the future.”

live stream_1Secretary Panetta spoke at two ceremonies, one at 9 a.m. and another at 4 p.m., in front of more than 2,725 students.

Citing a 2016 Panetta Institute poll of college students that showed 73 percent of young people predicting that they’ll have a tougher time achieving the American dream than their parents did, Secretary Panetta said today’s graduates have many legitimate concerns — including the state of the economy, political dysfunction and the “bizarre and crazy” politics taking place.

He urged students to detach from smartphones and social media and relate to others on a face-to-face basis. He also called upon young people to serve the country in some capacity, and said her supported such a program that would help students pay for college.

“All of you have to be willing to assume your responsibilities as citizens,” Secretary Panetta said. “To fight to make the American dream real, for yourselves and for your children.”

Sylvia Panetta Honored at CSUMB Commencement Ceremony

Sylvia Panetta and CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa

Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta received an honorary degree May 21, 2016 at the twentieth annual commencement ceremony at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Mrs. Panetta was honored for her role in the formation of the campus after the shuttering of the Fort Ord Army base in 1994.

“We wanted to turn swords into plowshares,” Mrs. Panetta said. “The creation of this university is the result of that dream,” she added. “Now it is your dream. This university is not only responsible for your education but for inspiring hope throughout the entire tri-county area.”

Mrs. Panetta urged the 1,500 graduates to commit to a life of public service, a mission that is at the heart of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy. More than 11,000 friends and family of graduates were in attendance.

Secretary Panetta at Defense Forum Urges President-Elect Trump and Congress to Develop a Coherent Plan to Deal with International Flashpoints

Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned that the United States is dealing with a number of “dangerous flashpoints” and “instability” in the world that would require bipartisan cooperation in Washington, D.C. by both Republicans as well as Democrats.

Secretary Panetta, former Vice President Dick Cheney and CNN"s Barbara Starr onstage at Defense Forum

Secretary Panetta, former Vice President Dick Cheney and CNN”s Barbara Starr onstage at Defense Forum

Speaking at a panel discussion December 3, 2016 at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Secretary Panetta issued a call for a coherent plan to deal with international challenges around the world. “Whether it’s ISIS, terrorism, collapsed states in the Middle East, Korea, Iran, Russia, China or the area of cyber, we are dealing with a whole series of potential threats.”

Secretary Panetta appeared on stage with former Vice President Dick Cheney and CNN’s Barbara Starr to address leaders and key stakeholders in the defense community, including members of Congress, civilian officials and military leaders from the Defense Department, industry, and administration officials.

Secretary Panetta called on leaders of both parties to “develop a defense policy to confront that kind of (dangerous) world. He recalled serving in Congress with then-Representative Cheney, and said: “In our day, governing was good politics. I’m not sure people think governing is good politics now. To some, “stopping things” is good politics. Somehow we’ve got to change that mentality.”

Specifically, Secretary Panetta called for bipartisan agreement on a new federal budget to provide a roadmap for adequate defense spending which now faces severe cutbacks. “The ultimate challenge now is to get a budget, to get Congress to do what should have been done a long time ago.”

Bringing up the sacrifices of those who serve in the military, Secretary Panetta asked, “If these young men and women are willing to put their lives on the line in order to protect this country, why can’t people who are elected to office use a little bit of that courage to take the risk to govern the country?”

Secretary Panetta Named to Advisory Committee for Proposed Eisenhower Memorial

Secretary Leon E. Panetta is one of sixteen prominent American leaders to be added to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s Advisory Committee, the organization supporting the funding and construction of a National Eisenhower Memorial to be built in Washington, D.C.

Artist's conception of proposed Eisenhower Memorial

Artist’s conception of proposed Eisenhower Memorial

Secretary Panetta and the other new appointees — former United States Vice Presidents Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale, along with former United States Senator Joe Lieberman and three other former Secretaries of Defense, Chuck Hagel, Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates — join with honorary presidential advisors Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and former First Lady Nancy Reagan, as well as a number of former cabinet members, Congressional leaders and other distinguished citizens.

Advisory Committee appointments were announced February 9, 2016, by United States Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission and former United States Senator Bob Dole, finance chairman of the Campaign for the Eisenhower Memorial.

Also named to the Advisory Committee were Judge William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA; Vernon E. Jordan Jr., senior managing director of Lazard Freres and Co., LLC, and past president of the National Urban League; Frederick W. Smith, founder, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx; T. Boone Pickens, businessman, philanthropist and energy advocate; Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr and Company, Inc.; Frederic V. Malek, founder and chairman, Thayer Lodging Group; and Norman Lear, screenwriter and producer, and a World War II veteran who served under General Eisenhower in the European theater of operations.

As planned, the Eisenhower Memorial is to be located next to the National Mall near the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Secretary Panetta Tells Students at Buena Vista University That U.S. Needs a United Front to Defeat Terrorism

The United States needs to “roll up its sleeves and go to work” to achieve the united front necessary to stem terrorism, Secretary Leon E. Panetta told students at Buena Vista University in Iowa.

2691767-L

Secretary Panetta discusses policy with a member of a student panel.

Secretary Panetta spoke to students and guests on October 7, 2016 as a part of the William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series, which invites prominent leaders to discuss their experiences and beliefs on freedom in America.

Secretary Panetta held two separate lectures while on campus. He first spoke to students and faculty, with a group of student panelists, addressing questions ranging from diversity challenges, extremist threats, reconciling his faith with his duty to carry out missions that cost lives, and his views on why fear is playing such a large role in politics.

Secretary Panetta repeatedly observed that there were only two ways to govern the country, through leadership or through crisis. Through leadership he suggests that the country could come together again, however, in order to do so, America needs leaders who are willing to take risks.

Leading through crisis, he said, is what has gotten this country into a state of not addressing issues but instead “kicking the can down the road” for someone else to deal with. An example, he said, is the Zika health issue. He said the parties’ inability to come to the table and negotiate for a consensus was doing a disservice to the American public.

As for national security, Secretary Panetta cited Isis, Boko Haram, and Southeast Asia as just a few of the many terrorist hotbeds that are proving to be global threats. “The reality is we are not going to be able to kill our way out of terrorism. We have to look at the root causes and develop a counter narrative.”

Citing the appeal for youth to join such terrorist groups, Secretary Panetta called for a coalition of countries willing to work toward providing opportunities to youth in places such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen. “We have to work with Muslim nations to prove that there is hope and opportunities in their regions,” he said.

The Storm Lake Pilot Tribune newspaper reported that Secretary Panetta received a standing ovation after his second speech of the night. “His much referenced, humble beginnings as the son of an Italian immigrant and his belief that a better life for your children is the American Dream; combined with his impassioned belief that America could be on the verge of a wonderful renaissance if it can manage a united front, clearly resonated with the local gathering,” the newspaper said.

Panetta Institute Education Programs Honored by Association of California School Administrators

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

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

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

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

The ACSA award was presented on May 1, 2016 at the group’s Spring Fling Dinner and Awards event at San Juan Oaks Golf Club in Hollister.

Secretary Panetta’s Portrait Unveiled at Pentagon Ceremony

Secretary Panetta was honored at the Pentagon on April 16, 2015 by the unveiling of his official portrait as the twenty third Secretary of Defense. The current Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, joined Secretary Panetta for the ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard.

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

hrs_Panetta DoD PortraitSecretary Panetta’s portrait  was painted by Stephen Craighead and hangs in the Secretary of Defense corridor.

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Panetta Receives George Catlett Marshall Medal From Association of the United States Army

Secretary Leon E. Panetta received the 2015 George Catlett Marshall Medal, the highest award presented by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), on October 14, 2016 at the George Catlett Marshall Memorial Dinner.

Secretary Panetta was honored for his "selfless service."

Secretary Panetta was honored for his “selfless service.”

The presentation took place at the George Catlett Marshall Memorial Dinner, the final event of the association’s three-day annual meeting and exposition in Washington, D.C.

The Marshall Medal is awarded annually to an individual who has exhibited selfless service to the United States, in the tradition of soldier-statesman General George C. Marshall. The medal is presented by the AUSA Council of Trustees in recognition of attributes such as contributions to national defense, exemplary public service to the nation and commitment to the highest American ideals.

Secretary Panetta was honored specifically for his contributions to the United States as a strong supporter of national defense and his devotion to those men and women who have served or are now serving to protect American freedom and liberty. “Leon Panetta is a shining example of selfless service. He has almost 50 years of service to our nation, as an Army officer, a member of Congress, the 23rd Defense Secretary, CIA Director, White House Chief of Staff and one of our nation’s top minds on the federal budget,” said General Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., AUSA president and CEO. “The son of Italian immigrants, he has often spoken of living the American dream and giving his heart and soul to our nation. Our award is a sign of our gratitude to him.”

Established in 1950, AUSA is a private, non-profit educational organization that supports America’s Army-Active, National Guard, Reserve, Civilians, Retirees, Government Civilians, Wounded Warriors, Veterans and family members.

Secretary Panetta Receives Prestigious Dwight D. Eisenhower Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veteran Pacific Grove High School Educator Honored by Panetta Institute

Lillian Griffiths, a longtime teacher and social sciences department chair at Pacific Grove High School, was presented with the Panetta Institute Champion Award June 1, 2015 for her tireless involvement in the Leon Panetta Lecture Series Afternoon Student Program.

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

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

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

Sylvia Panetta Honored by the American Association of University Women

The Monterey chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has honored Panetta Institute Co-Chair and CEO Sylvia Panetta for her role in establishing a scholarship in her name for deserving students at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC).

For twenty years, scholarships have been awarded to students preparing to continue their education at a four-year college or university. Students are selected on the basis of academic excellence, and funds are distributed when the students show proof of enrollment at their university.

Sylvia Panetta receives a commerative booklet from . Kaz Matsuyama of the JACL, Sharyn Siebert of AAUW, and Dennis Mar of LWV (standing); Sylvia Panetta and Mez Benton (seated).

Sylvia Panetta receives a commerative booklet from Kaz Matsuyama of the JACL, Sharyn Siebert of AAUW, and Dennis Mar of LWV (standing); and Mez Benton (seated).

The event to honor Mrs. Panetta took place at The Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Sharyn Siebert, co-president of the Monterey chapter of the AAUW, recalled how the scholarship came about: “In 1993, in honor of Mrs. Panetta’s lifetime commitment to education and her volunteerism in this area, the AAUW branch, the local chapter of League of Women Voters (LWV) and the County Commission on the Status of Women came together to establish a scholarship in her name at MPC.”

The scholarship was geared toward showing the diversity of Monterey County and it garnered support from the Japanese American Citizens’ League (JACL), the Italian Heritage Society, the Filipino Community Organization and the NAACP. As part of the presentation, Mrs. Panetta was given a commemorative booklet featuring scores of letters from students who benefited from the scholarship. The book will be added to the Institute’s archive.

Attending the event were Kaz Matsuyama of the JACL, Sharyn Siebert of AAUW, Dennis Mar of LWV and Mez Benton, who is affiliated with both the LWV and AAUW.

Leon Panetta Receives Top Honor From the Intelligence and National Security Alliance

Secretary Leon Panetta was awarded the prestigious 2014 William Oliver Baker Award, the highest award to be presented by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), at its annual dinner in June, 2014.

Secretary Panetta was recognized for his unwavering service to the United States and his dedication, commitment and support of our nation’s intelligence agencies and military.

INSA is a non-profit, non-partisan public/private intelligence and national security organization that provides a unique venue for collaboration, networking and examination of policy issues and solutions. Representing an alliance among senior leaders from the public, private and academic sectors, INSA members form a community of experts that collaborate to develop creative, innovative and timely solutions to the intelligence and national security issues facing the United States.

The William Oliver Baker Award is an annual award that recognizes individuals for:

  • Sustained excellence in their contribution to national security affairs over a considerable period of time, or a single achievement of extraordinary merit;
  • Contribution in the scientific and technical disciplines or in other fields essential to the enhancement of national security interests;
  • Technical enhancement of unusual significance, management proficiency of a high order, or development or application of techniques that permit cost savings of substantial magnitude.

The award is named after Dr. William Oliver Baker, a prominent scientist, former head of Bell Labs and a trusted advisor to five United States presidents, starting with President Eisenhower.

Secretary Panetta Pays Tribute to Institute Vice Chair Bob Antle

Secretary Leon Panetta paid tribute to longtime friend and Panetta Institute Vice Chair Bob Antle, who died August 3, 2014  in Salinas. Secretary Panetta was one of several speakers at the memorial service for Mr. Antle on August 11, 2014 at the World Theater, California State University, Monterey Bay. Click here to read  a complete text of his remarks.