Student Leaders Learn Valuable Skills From Diverse Experts at Annual Leadership Seminar

Each year, the Panetta Institute brings together student body presidents and other elected student leaders from the twenty-three California State University campuses, Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University to teach them about leadership principles, strategies and practices.

Secretary Panetta meets with students at the Leadership Seminar

These students then go back to their campuses and communities, ready to serve as more effective leaders.

The eight-day seminar, entitled Education for Leadership in Public Service, involves the students in direct interaction with a variety of visiting national, state and local leaders.

This unique educational program features classes on topics such as: leadership in Washington and California; in education; at the local, city and county level; military leadership: historical perspectives on leadership; leadership in criminal justice; media; from an ethical perspective; community and grass-roots organizing; leadership challenges in the 21st century; and a panel seminar discussion and exercise on consensus building featuring current and former elected officials from both political parties.

In 2017, 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 the theory of great leadership into practice, and on what he considers the top ten qualities of leadership. The Institute also hosted a seminar with former United States Representative Sam Farr and Secretary Panetta, entitled Leadership in Congress and the Executive Branch.

The program concluded with special presentations from each of the twenty-seven participants during which the students shared their goals for their home campuses and reflected on their own definitions of leadership.

Program costs for the Leadership Seminar are paid by the Panetta Institute, the affiliated universities or student body associations and the CSU Chancellor’s Office. Participating students receive four academic credits for their enrollment and successful completion of this unique program.

The class of 2017 heard from a wide variety of speakers who participate in the program. The following were some of the forums and speakers:*

  • Secretary Panetta presented a talk on the gridlock and partisanship of present-day Washington, D.C., offering insights on putting leadership theory into practice, and what he considers to be the top qualities of a great leader
  • Insights into great leadership from the study of history, featuring Richard Kezirian, professor emeritus, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
  • Leadership in Sacramento through the eyes of an insider, presented by Drew Liebert, former chief counsel of the California Assembly Judiciary Committee
  • A session on leadership in the military, including Col. Danial Pick, USA (Ret.), former Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center commandant and current city manager, City of Del Rey Oaks; and Col. Fred Meurer, USA (Ret.) and former city manager of the City of Monterey
  • A look at the achievements and future plans of civic groups, with Jim Mayer, president and CEO of California Forward
  • Insight into the state of California’s budget, featuring Stephanie Leonard, communications project manager of Next 10
  • A session on policymaking at the local government level, including Luis Alejo, Monterey County supervisor and former state assemblyman; Cynthia Mathews, council member, City of Santa Cruz; and Joe Gunter, mayor of the city of Salinas
  • A special session on the art of effective communication, with Sonia Banks, professor, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy; and Richard Kezirian, professor emeritus, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
  • A program on leadership in education, featuring Lisa Kloppenberg, dean and professor of law, Santa Clara University School of Law; Willard Lewallen, superintendent/president, Hartnell Community College District; and Erica Padilla-Chavez, member, Hartnell Community College District Board of Trustees
  • The issue of leadership at the community level, discussed by Diana Jimenez, president,  League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of North Monterey County and deputy director, Adult, Aging and CALWorks Employment Services; Helen Rucker, former trustee of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and community activist; Simón Salinas, Monterey County supervisor; and Commander Paul Tanks, USN (Ret.) senior naval science instructor, Monterey High School, NJROTC
  • The ethical aspects of leadership, with insights from David DeCosse, Santa Clara University ethics professor
  • A session on leadership and crisis in California’s criminal justice system, featuring Carrie McIntyre Panetta, judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Monterey; Juliet Peck, local defense attorney; and Rafael Vazquez, Santa Cruz County assistant district attorney
  • A session on journalism and the media with Krista Almanzan, local National Public Radio (KAZU) news director; Karina Rusk, director of marketing, media and public relations, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System; and Amy Wu, government/political and agriculture reporter for The Salinas Californian
  • A discussion of leadership in competitive sports, with Chris Dalman, former NFL player and dean of students, Palma High School; and Ed Kezirian, former assistant director of academic services, coach and player for the University of California, Los Angeles
  • The Leadership Seminar also featured a special program on consensus building. This popular session includes a special segment with former California Assembly Members Jim Cunneen and Fred Keeley in a frank discussion on how they crossed the aisle to govern effectively during their time in office
  • A local group addressed leadership in business, with Ted Balestreri, local business leader and member of the Panetta Institute board of directors; Mary Claypool, local business leader; and Deirdre Smallwood, senior vice president of Small Business Banking and Monterey Bay Market president, Bank of America.
  • Also participating were Co-Chair and CEO of the Panetta Institute, Sylvia Panetta, and Panetta Institute staff, Chris Haubert, Steven Macias and Ellen Wilson

The student participants were: 

Name Institutional Affiliation Position
Louis Adamsel CSU San Marcos ASI President and CEO
Hallie Balch Dominican University of California AS President-elect
Justin Blakely CSU Dominguez Hills ASI President-elect
Laila Dadabhoy CSU Fullerton ASI President and CEO
Andrea Davalos CSU San Bernardino ASI President and CEO-elect
Chimezie Ebiriekwe San Diego State University AS President and CEO
Jacqueline Foley San Francisco State University AS President and CEO
Jonathan Goldenberg CSU Northridge AS President
Daniel Gomez CSU Long Beach ASI President and CEO
Mariela Gomez CSU Bakersfield ASI President
Dylan Gray CSU Chico AS President
Wilson Hall Sonoma State University AS President and CEO
Farris Hamza Cal Poly Pomona ASI President-elect
Karina Hinojosa CSU Channel Islands Student Government President
Mia Kagianas CSU Sacramento ASI President
Alana Lim California State Student Association Chair-elect
Ariadna Manzo San Jose State University AS President
Maria Refugio Mata Saint Mary’s College of California AS President
Maria Marquez Mendoza CSU Stanislaus ASI Vice President
Marcos Montes California State Student Association Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Joseph Mularky Humboldt State University AS President
Riley Nilsen Cal Poly San Luis Obispo ASI President-elect
Samantha Quiambao CSU East Bay ASI President
Jared Reyes CSU Monterey Bay AS Vice President for External Affairs
Blake Zante CSU Fresno ASI President
David Zitser CSU Los Angeles ASI President
Anthony Zoller Cal Maritime Academy AS President


* Speakers’ titles at the time of their presentations.

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