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


“My time at the Panetta Institute was such a transformative experience. Hearing the stories of the numerous speakers motivated and inspired me on levels I didn’t expect. I honestly thought to myself, if they can do it, I can as well.

LooLoo Amante,
San José State University
2015 Leadership Seminar Participant

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.

This year, 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 had a seminar Consensus Building #1 copyon competitive sports and insights into great leadership through teamwork, featuring two former National Football League veterans who now are in the fields of education and youth leadership.

The program concluded with special presentations from each of the twenty-eight 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 2016 heard from a wide variety of speakers who participated in the program. The following were some of the forums and speakers:*

  • A panel on leadership in local government with former mayor of Monterey, Dan Albert; former mayor of Santa Cruz, Hilary Bryant; and mayor of Salinas, Joe Gunter.
  • A session on leadership in journalism and communications featuring KAZU news director, Krista Almanzan; KSBW-TV news co-anchor, Erin Clark; and The Salinas Californian government and political reporter, Amy Wu.
  • Leadership at the state level was discussed in three different sessions. Communications coordinator for Next 10, Stephanie Leonard, led the students in a budget exercise highlighting the difficult fiscal choices associated with passing a balanced budget. Former chief counsel to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee, Drew Liebert covered challenges facing the state legislature. The final California-centered session featured executive director for California Forward, James Mayer, who discussed the organization’s efforts to enact government reforms in Sacramento.
  • Leadership in sports featured two former NFL players who now work with youth: former Super Bowl champion, San Francisco Forty-Niner and current dean of students at Palma School, Chris Dalman; and former player for the Philadelphia Eagles and present risk management and compliance administrator for the Boys & Girls Clubs, Ron Johnson.                             
  • Commanding crew members for littoral combat ships, CDR Michel Falzone, USS FORT WORTH (LCS-1), and CDR Mark Haney, USS MILWAUKEE (LCS-5), shared perspectives on military leadership.
  • California Superior Court judge for Monterey County, The Hon. Carrie McIntyre Panetta; local defense attorney, Juliet Peck; and Santa Cruz county assistant district attorney, Rafael Vazquez discussed leadership in the criminal justice system.
  • Leadership in Education was presented by president of the Naval Postgraduate School, Admiral Ron Route; superintendent/president of Monterey Peninsula College, Walt Tribley; and Sonia Banks, attorney and Panetta Institute professor.
  • Local community leaders participating included president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Council for North Monterey County, Diana Jimenez; Monterey County assistant district attorney, Rolando Mazariegos; former city council member and Monterey Peninsula Unified School District trustee, Helen Rucker; and Monterey County Supervisor, Simón Salinas. They focused on how one’s own life experiences can form leadership skills and the ability of community members to forge consensus and build partnerships that can effect change at the local, state and national levels.
  • A local group addressed leadership in business, featuring president & CEO of the Cannery Row Company, Ted Balestreri; former executive director of the Monterey County Business Council, Mary Claypool; and CEO and chairman of the board of Mann Packing, Lorri Koster.
  • Workshops were also held on professional speaking skills and defusing difficult situations through effective communication.
  • The Leadership Seminar also featured a special three-part program on consensus building. This popular session began with 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. It was followed by an academic overview of consensus-building strategies. The program wrapped up with an interactive role-playing exercise that provided a challenging situation for these young leaders to resolve.
  • Also participating was Co-Chair and CEO of the Panetta Institute, Sylvia Panetta, and Panetta Institute staff, Richard Kezirian, Chris Haubert and Ellen Wilson.

The student participants were:

  • Kayleigh Bates, CSU Fullerton, ASI Chair, Board of Directors
  • Collin Bogie, CSU San Marcos, ASI President and CEO
  • Ryan Brown, The California State Student Association, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
  • Jana Colombini, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, ASI President-Elect
  • Lidia Diaz-Fong, Santa Clara University, ASG President-Elect
  • Alex Dominguez, CSU Bakersfield, ASI President and CEO
  • Patrick Dorsey, CSU Sacramento, ASI President-Elect
  • Christopher Dutt, CSU Maritime Academy, AS Senior Class President
  • Carlene Dyer, CSU Stanislaus, ASI Vice President
  • Hendrix Erhahon, CSU East Bay, ASI President and CEO
  • Marvin Flores, CSU Long Beach, ASI President and CEO
  • Adriana Gamino, CSU Dominguez Hills, ASI Executive Vice President
  • Emily Hinton, Sonoma State University, AS President
  • Quin Kochman, CSU San Bernardino, ASI Executive Vice President-Elect
  • Kenia Lopez, CSU Northridge, AS Vice President
  • Kavyasri Maddali, Saint Mary’s College of California, AS Vice Chair
  • Lauren McClain, CSU Monterey Bay, AS President
  • Jamie-Lee Miller, San Diego State University, AS President
  • Amanda Monroy, CSU San Bernardino, ASI Director of External Affairs
  • Michelle Noyes, CSU Channel Islands, Student Government President
  • Héctor Perea, San Jose State University, AS President and CEO
  • Jonah Platt, Humbolt State University, AS President
  • Michael Pratt, CSU Chico, AS President
  • Timothy Ryan, CSU Fresno, ASI President
  • Uriah Sanders, Cal Poly Pomona, ASI President-Elect
  • Kayla Stamps, CSU Los Angeles, ASI President
  • Maggie White, The California State University, Student Trustee
  • Lawrence Yu, Dominican University of California, AS President-Elect

* Speakers’ titles at the time of their presentations.

Please contact us for more information.