Leon Panetta  2017 Lecture Series Focused on ‘The Trump Presidency and the Future of America’

Each spring, Secretary Panetta moderates the Panetta Institute’s highly acclaimed lecture series that brings national leaders, policy experts and journalists to the Monterey Peninsula.

The theme for the 2017 Lecture Series was The Trump Presidency and the Future of America. A complete list of speakers is detailed below.

       “Seeing qualified professionals discussing the issues of the day was both eye-opening and educational.”

Marissa Lewellen, York School

Speakers appear before a live theater as well as television audiences. During the afternoon of each lecture, the speakers meet with students from the Central Coast and Northern California high schools, colleges and military installations.

For information about subscriptions for the 2018 Lecture Series or to inquire about becoming a sponsor for the events, please call the Panetta Institute at 831-582-4200. Lectures in 2017 were March 6, April 3, May 29 and June 5. All events start at 7:00 p.m.

Ticket and Broadcast Information

All the Leon Panetta Lecture Series programs are broadcast live throughout California by Comcast, Comcast Hometown Network, the California Channel, KQED and other cable networks. C-SPAN periodically broadcasts these lectures nationally. The lectures are also available for viewing on The Institute’s YouTube channel and via live web-streaming. They are also broadcast live on KAZU FM 90.3, the Central Coast’s public radio station.

To see a list of past speakers, click here.

The events and speakers for the 2017 Lecture Series were as follows:

March 6, 7:00 p.m.: The Affordable Care Act — Repeal, Replace or Gridlock?


The first American of Indian descent to run for president, Bobby Jindal is considered one of America’s boldest innovators in the healthcare and education sectors. In 1996, at twenty-four years of age, Bobby Jindal was named head of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals. Two years later, he was appointed director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. In 2001, President George W. Bush selected him as assistant secretary for the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Bobby Jindal first ran for public office in 2003. As a Republican candidate for governor of Louisiana, he led the open primary but lost the runoff. He was elected to Congress the following year and was re-elected in 2006 with almost ninety percent of the vote. In 2007, he launched a successful run for the gubernatorial position, making him the youngest sitting governor in the nation. Governor Jindal won re-election handily in 2011. As governor, he worked to rebuild and diversify the state’s economy and financial footing in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and led the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Among other reforms, he worked to implement a top-to-bottom overhaul and privatization of the state-run charity hospital and the state’s healthcare payer systems. In 2015, Governor Jindal announced his candidacy for president. Governor Jindal earned degrees in biology and public policy from Brown University. A Rhodes scholar, he also holds a Master of Letters degree in politics with an emphasis in health policy from Oxford.


With a deep understanding of healthcare policy, Chris Jennings is renowned for his communication skills and ability to work across Capitol Hill party lines. He has been involved in many of the nation’s political and policy debates concerning healthcare in the past three decades. From 1983 to 1993, Mr. Jennings served in the United States Senate as chief health advisor for three senators and led major reform efforts in the areas of long-term care, prescription drug coverage/cost containment and rural healthcare. From the mid-1990s to early 2001, Mr. Jennings served in the Clinton administration as senior healthcare advisor. In this capacity he was involved in the development, passage and implementation of bipartisan health reforms, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Prescription Drug User Fee Act of 1997 and major Medicare reforms in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Upon leaving the Clinton White House, he became a healthcare policy consultant, forming Jennings Policy Strategies in Washington, DC. In 2013, Mr. Jennings joined the Obama administration as deputy assistant to the president for health policy and coordinator of health reform, helping to implement the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Jennings has been a senior health policy advisor to six Democratic presidential campaigns. He also served as the healthcare policy advisor to the 2008 Democratic Platform Drafting Committee, as well as co-chair of the 2012 Obama campaign’s Health Care Advisory Committee. Mr. Jennings has a B.A. from Miami University of Ohio.

April 3, 7:00 p.m.: The Economy — Trade, Jobs, Taxes and Immigration


One of the most high profile business leaders in the nation, Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company. Ms. Fiorina started out as a secretary for a small real estate business. In 1999, she was recruited by Hewlett-Packard where she would eventually become chairman and CEO. In that post, Ms. Fiorina led the reinvention of the legendary company, successfully steering it through the dot-com bust and saving jobs and fostering growth. In March 2008, Ms. Fiorina joined the Republican National Committee’s get-out-the-vote effort. She traveled the country speaking on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain and his economic principles. That same year she joined Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to found the One Woman Initiative, which later merged with Opportunity International. To date, the organization has created or sustained nearly sixteen million jobs by giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to thrive. In 2010, Ms. Fiorina challenged Barbara Boxer, incumbent United States senator for California. Called “The Most Powerful Woman in Business” by FORTUNE magazine, Ms. Fiorina chronicles her achievements and struggles in her best-selling memoir, Tough Choices. In 2015, she announced she would seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States. In this effort she captured national attention as a non-establishment candidate with private sector experience with a platform of citizen government. Ms. Fiorina received her undergraduate degree from Stanford, her MBA from the University of Maryland and her M.S. of Science from MIT.


robert reich

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor and a past member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board, Robert Reich has served under three national administrations and is one of the nation’s leading thinkers about the economy. Secretary Reich is the author of fifteen books and has a reputation for seeing where politics and the economy are going before they get there. His 2007 book, Supercapitalism, warned of the perils of an under-regulated and over-leveraged financial system. In his 2010 best seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, Secretary Reich predicted the slow recovery and its consequences. His 2012 book, Beyond Outrage, talks about “what has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy and how to fix it.” In his most recent book, also a national best seller, Saving Capitalism, he anticipated a widening political divide, not between Democrats and Republicans, but between establishment elites and anti-establishment populists in both parties. Secretary Reich is also the co-creator and host of the acclaimed 2013 documentary, Inequality for All, in which he explains the underlying forces shaping the economy and lays out pragmatic solutions for a broader prosperity. Secretary Reich is a past recipient of the prestigious Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent for his original contributions to economic thinking. In 2008, he was named one of the nation’s top ten “thought” leaders by The Wall Street Journal. Secretary Reich received a B.A. from Dartmouth College, an M.S. from Oxford University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

May 29, 7:00 p.m.: Our Democracy — Parties, Politics and Governing


With more than thirty years experience in politics, Donna Brazile has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 to 2000. Ms. Brazile worked for Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in 1984. In 1988, she served as field director for Dick Gephardt’s presidential primary run before moving on to Michael Dukakis’ general election campaign. In 1999, she was named campaign manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign, becoming the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign. Ms. Brazile is former vice chair for civic engagement and voter participation at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the former chair of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. She assumed the role of interim chair of the DNC in 2016. The author of the best-selling memoir, Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Ms. Brazile has appeared on CNN’s Inside Politics and Crossfire. She has been a regular contributor for ABC’s This Week, a columnist for Roll Call and a contributing writer for Ms. Magazine. In 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine, chose Ms. Brazile as one of its twenty “remarkable visionaries.” In addition, she was named among the “100 Most Powerful Women” by Washingtonian magazine, “Top 50 Women in America” by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. In 2016, Ms. Brazile was awarded Wonk of the Year from the Kennedy Political Union at American University. Ms. Brazile earned her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.


A trusted advisor to four presidents and to both political parties, David Gergen offers bipartisan analysis of the key political issues of the day. A United States Navy veteran, Mr. Gergen’s political career began in the early 1970s, when he joined the Nixon administration first as an assistant speechwriter and later as chief speechwriter. He served in the Ford administration as director of communications and was later a member of the Reagan administration’s communications team where he was eventually named assistant to the president for communications. In 1993, Mr. Gergen agreed to serve as a counselor to President Clinton on both domestic and foreign affairs, eventually becoming a special international advisor to the president and to Secretary of State Warren Christopher. He wrote about those experiences in his 2001 New York Times best seller, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton. In the 1980s, Mr. Gergen began a career in journalism. Starting with The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour in 1984, he has been a regular commentator on public affairs for more than thirty years. He has twice been a member of election coverage teams that won Peabody awards and he has contributed to two Emmy award-winning political analysis teams. Mr. Gergen is a professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. In addition, he serves as a senior political analyst for CNN. Mr. Gergen has a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


A political analyst for ABC News and editor of the influential Washington-based political magazine The Weekly Standard, William Kristol is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading political analysts and one of the most influential conservatives in Washington. From 1979 to 1983, Mr. Kristol worked in the department of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1983, he joined the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Kristol came to Washington in 1985 to join the Reagan administration first as chief of staff to Secretary of Education William J. Bennett and then as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle. A savvy political strategist, he chaired the Project for the Republican Future where he helped shape the 1994 Republican congressional victory. Mr. Kristol has also played a major role in the debate on American foreign policy since September 11th and was the co-author of The New York Times best seller, The War Over Iraq: Saddam’s Tyranny and America’s Mission. Mr. Kristol is a regular on ABC’s This Week and on ABC’s special events and election coverage, and also appears frequently on other leading political commentary programs including CNN’s Crossfire, MSNBC’s Morning Joe and FOX’s Special Report. Mr. Kristol is a recipient of the 2009 Bradley Prize, given in recognition of outstanding achievements that are consistent with The Bradley Foundation’s mission to strengthen American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles and values that sustain and nurture the tradition of free representative government and enterprise. Mr. Kristol received both his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

June 5, 7:00 p.m.: The World — Terrorism, Russia, China, Populism and Cyber


A pioneer in foreign policy and global affairs, Condoleezza Rice has unparalleled expertise in diplomacy and national security. From 1989 through March 1991, Condoleezza Rice served on President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Council staff. In that administration she held several positions including director; senior director of Soviet and East European Affairs; and special assistant to the president for national security affairs. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Condoleezza Rice also served as special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Condoleezza Rice first joined the administration of President George W. Bush in 2001 as assistant to the president for national security affairs (national security advisor). The first woman to hold the position, she served in that capacity until 2005 when she was confirmed as the sixty-sixth Secretary of State of the United States. Secretary Rice was the second woman and first African American woman to hold the post. As secretary of state and national security advisor, Secretary Rice pioneered a policy of transformational diplomacy and heralded the formation of new global governments based on democratic principles. Secretary Rice has proved to be a significant leader during a time of unprecedented and tumultuous world affairs, and has been recognized for her courageous efforts to foster worldwide freedoms for all people. Secretary Rice has authored and co-authored numerous books, including two best sellers, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family and No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington. She is also a contributor to CBS News. Secretary Rice earned her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. all from the University of Denver.


For more than thirty-five years, Ash Carter has used his extraordinary experience in national security, technology and innovation to defend the United States. Secretary Carter served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy from 1993 to 1996. In this capacity he was responsible for, among other issues, strategic affairs and nuclear weapons policy. From 2009 to 2011, he was under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics with responsibility for the Department of Defense (DoD) procurement reform and innovation agenda. From 2011 to 2013, Secretary Carter served as deputy secretary of defense, working as DoD chief operating officer, overseeing the department’s annual budget and its three million-plus civilian and military personnel. In this role, he steered strategy and budget through the sequester and ensured the future of the force and institutional best practices. As the twenty-fifth secretary of defense, Secretary Carter became known for his leadership and creativity. He energized the global military campaign against ISIL, designed and executed the strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific, established DoD and NATO’s new strategy for confronting Russian aggression, spearheaded revolutionary improvements in technological and operational capabilities and launched the latest DoD latest cyber strategy. Secretary Carter has been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest DoD civilian honor, on five separate occasions. He received the Defense Intelligence Medal for his contributions to intelligence and the Joint Distinguished Service Medal from the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff. Secretary Carter earned his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.


2017 Lecture Series Sponsors

The Panetta Institute would like to salute the sponsors of the 2017 Lecture Series for their extraordinary public service in supporting this important event. For information on becoming a sponsor, call the Panetta Institute at 831-582-4200.

Sue Antle

AT&T California

Automobile Club of Southern California

Bank of America

Laurie and David Benjamin

The Boeing Company

California American Water

Cannery Row Company

Sarah Jane and Louis Castruccio

City of Carmel-by-the-Sea

Comcast NBCUniversal

Comcast Hometown Network

Debra and George W. Couch III

Sherry E. DeBoer

Dominican University of California

The Eubanks Family Foundation

Gail and Jim Griggs

Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Associates, Inc.

Mann Packing Company


Sharon and Stan Meresman

Monterey County Office of Education

The Dennis and Gloria O’Brien Foundation

Mike and Mary Orradre

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Leon and Sylvia Panetta

The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation

Tanimura & Antle, Inc.

Edward and Louise Trout

Anthony B. Varni

Victory Toyota/Lexus Monterey Peninsula

Welton Foundation

Kathy and Tom Wiggans

Stanley Zax

Zenith Insurance Company


Anton Family Foundation

Cathy and Gary Brock

Donald Chapin

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation

Rhonda and Myles Williams