Student Leaders Learn Valuable Skills From Diverse Experts at Annual 2019 Leadership in Education Seminar at the Panetta Institute

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.

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 2019, 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. He also listened to the students’ leadership objectives.

The program concludes with special presentations from each of the twenty-six 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 2019 heard from a wide variety of speakers who participate in the program. The following are 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.
  • Leadership at the state level, presented in three different sessions, presented by Drew Liebert, former chief counsel of the California Assembly Judiciary Committee, James Mayer, senior fellow and president emeritus at California Forward; and Colleen  Kredell, director of research for Next Ten.
  • A session on leadership in the military, including Fred Meurer, USA (Ret.) and former city manager of the City of Monterey; Col. Gary Hausman, commander of the Defense Language Institute; and Commander Paula Travis, program officer, Meteorology and Oceanography Department, Naval Postgraduate School.
  • A session on leadership at the local government level, including Luis Alejo, Monterey County supervisor and former state assemblyman; Cynthia Garfield, city of Pacific Grove councilmember; and Joe Gunter, mayor of the city of Salinas.
  • A program on leadership in education, featuring Anna Hun, interim dean and professor of law, Santa Clara University School of Law; Willard Clark Lewallen, superintendent/president, Hartnell Community College District; and Deneen Guss, Ed.D, superintendent, Monterey County Office of Education.
  • Leadership at the community level, discussed by Diana Jimenez, president,  League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of North Monterey County; Helen Rucker, former city council member and former trustee of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District; 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, director of campus ethics programs, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics of Santa Clara University.
  • A session on leadership in California’s criminal justice system, featuring Juliet Peck, local defense attorney; Rafael Vazquez, Monterey County Superior Court Judge; Carrie McIntyre Panetta, Monterey County Superior Court Judge ; and Stefanie Zamora, Monterey County assistant district attorney.
  • A session on journalism and the media with Krista Almanzan, local National Public Radio (KAZU) news director and David Kellogg, managing editor, Monterey Herald.
  • A discussion of leadership in competitive sports, with Chris Dalman, former Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers and assistant principal, Palma High School; and Ron Johnson, former NFL player and CEO and president for the Boys and Girls Club of Monterey County.
  • A program on cybersecurity and national security, with John Arquilla, professor and chair of the Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School.
  • 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. The program wrapped up with an interactive role-playing exercise that provided a challenging situation for participants to solve.
  • A local group addressed leadership in business, with Ted Balestreri, chairman and CEO, Cannery Row Company; Mary Claypool, local business leader and former executive director, Monterey County Business Council; George Couch III, chairman and president, Couch Distributing; and David Benjamin,president and managing partner, Benjamin Media Investments, LLC.
  • Also participating were Co-Chair and CEO of the Panetta Institute, Sylvia Panetta, and Panetta Institute staff, Sonia Banks, Richard Kezirian, Tyler Crocker and Ellen Wilson.
  • Providing program support were members of Panetta Institute staff: Cynthia Anderson, Toby Brooks, Steven Bruno, Trevor Grossi, Geana Ruiz, Ricki Liang and Geana Ruiz.

The 2019 student participants: 

Name Institutional Affiliation Title
Aaron Aguilar CSU Fullerton President
Breana Archie Sonoma State University President
Karmjit Bath CSU Stanislaus Vice President of Finance
Mark Borges Cal Poly SLO President
Lizbeth Cano Sanchez Humboldt State University Vice President of Admin.
Aaron Castaneda CSU Los Angeles President
Dante Fregoso St. Mary’s College President
Adonis Galarza-Toledo CSU San Bernardino President
Fernando García CSU Chancellor’s Office Student Trustee
Ana Gonzalez CSU Monterey Bay President
Trevor Guthrie Chico State University President
Omar Hernandez CSU Fresno President & CEO
Wyatt Juntunen California Maritime Academy President
Zahraa Khuraibet California State Student Association Chair
Preyansh Kotecha San Francisco State University President & CEO
Christian Landaverde CSU Sacramento President & CEO
Daisy Maxion CSU East Bay President & CEO
Christian Onwuka San Diego State University President
Branden Parent San José State University President
Sara Ruiz CSU Channel Islands President
Pasindu Senaratne Cal Poly Pomona President
Rihab Shuaib CSU Dominguez Hills Vice President of Finance
Kenneth Tran CSU San Marcos President
Lizbeth Velasquez CSU Long Beach President
Diana Vicente CSU Northridge President
Aaron Wan CSU Bakersfield President



* Speakers’ titles at the time of their presentations.

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