Liz Cheney, James Clyburn and Chris Wallace Receive 2021 Jefferson-Lincoln Awards

The Panetta Institute presented the 2021 Jefferson-Lincoln Awards on Saturday, November 6, 2021 to United States Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and James Clyburn (D-SC) along with Chris Wallace, Anchor of FOX News Sunday.

The honorees were selected because of their proven dedication to the most important principles of our democracy:  loyalty to country above party, the importance of a transparent and unbiased press, the protection of free and fair elections and the need for equal justice in applying the rule of law.

This year’s event celebrated three outstanding public servants.  At the gala, each shared inspirational remarks that reflected on the greatness of our nation and our democracy.  The fellowship and the camaraderie of the evening improved guests’ perception of the health of our democracy.  Many attendees said they left the evening with a new sense of optimism for the future and with restored faith in the promise and potential of our great nation.

Commenting on the honorees, Institute Chairman and Co-Founder Leon E. Panetta said, “The institutions of our democracy are being tested every day. Our forefathers in our Constitution created a system to limit power and protect our republic.  But, the key to that process is leadership.  And, in our democracy we govern by leadership or by crisis. The recipients of this year’s Jefferson-Lincoln Award were honored because they have displayed principled bipartisan leadership, a commitment to truth and transparency and stewardship of our system of checks and balances.”

The honorees made remarks in front of a sold out crowd of more than 400 Institute supporters. Secretary concluded the program stating, “As citizens of the United States of America, there is always a place for different points of view, different opinions and beliefs, but there is no place for a lack of tolerance or respect for others, there is no place for giving up and doing nothing.  We work every day at the Panetta Institute to create the next generation of voters and leaders for our democracy.  ”

Also honored on November 6 were retiring CSUMB president Eduarda Ochoa along with long time chair of the Panetta Institute Dinner Committee Chef Bert Cutting. The program was followed by a dinner of award-winning food and wines.

The awards ceremony and dinner serves as the Institute’s major fundraiser.  Click here for more information on this year’s event.

Congressional Interns Conclude Work in U.S. Congressional Offices

Twenty-five college interns from The Panetta Institute for Public Policy returned from Washington, D.C. on November 6, 2021.  Each had spent the fall semester living in Washington, DC and working the congressional offices of the California delegation of the United States House of Representatives.

After participating in an intensive two-week orientation at the Panetta Institute that provided instruction on policy issues, the current political environment and training on how to work effectively in a congressional office through seminars led by experts renowned in their fields, these students are spent eleven weeks as interns working with congressional staff.

While in Washington, interns also attend special seminars.  This year’s class attended classes with House Parliamentarian Jason Smith, lobbyist Pat Griffin, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Maya MacGuineas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy, economist Alan Blinder, Tom Daschle, immigration expert Doris Meissner, Congressman Ken Calvert and more.

This Congressional Internship Program was founded by the Panetta Institute to give students hands-on experience on how our democracy operates.

Click here for more information on the Congressional Internship Program including a complete list of this year’s speakers and topics.

Student Leaders Participate in Twenty-Second Annual Leadership Seminar

The Panetta Institute launched the twenty-second Education for Leadership in Public Service on Monday June 14.  The five day course ran through Friday, June 18 and included student body officers from the California State University campuses across California.  Because the seminar was held at a time when the COVID-19 restrictions were still in place, the entire seminar was conducted online through video conferencing.

The twenty-five enrolled elected student body leaders heard from nationally renowned speakers representing diverse backgrounds such as government, business, the military, law professional sports and elected office.  This group of speakers presented different professional and personal experiences to stress the qualities and lessons of leadership.  The program provides a unique opportunity for students to interact with this group of prominent individuals and engage in dialogue about current political challenges.

Click here for more information on the Leadership Seminar and this year’s speakers.

Panetta Institute’s 2021 Youth Civic Engagement Survey Shows Students’ Resiliency. Though Deeply Affected by COVID 19, They Are Optimistic About the Future

In the twenty-first year of its nationwide survey of college students, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy has found that college students have been profoundly impacted by COVID-19. However, with case rates going down and the country beginning to re-open at the time, students showed optimism expressing a positive attitude about our nation’s leadership and their own future.

Seventy-three percent of the students polled said that COVID-19 changed their life in a very or fairly major way, and 33 percent lost a close friend or family member due to the virus.  Sixty-nine percent said COVID has had a negative impact on their mental health and 66 percent said it has had a negative impact on their college experience.  However, for the first time since 2015, a majority of students believed that the country was headed in the right direction, and they were more confident in the future of the United States.

“Like so many Americans, college students have been deeply impacted by the disruption and loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Institute chairman and former United States Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. “Despite these challenges, they are enthusiastic about their own participation in our democracy and are willing to take steps to help protect and defend it. Inspiring this spirit is the purpose of the work we do at the Panetta Institute.”

For a complete summary of this year’s results click here.

All Four Events in the 2021 Leon Panetta Lecture Series Now Available for Viewing 


This year’s lecture series with the theme New Leadership in a New Decade focused on the coronavirus pandemic; the new administration and relations with the Congress; U.S. foreign policy; and restoring trust in the presidency given the national political divisions.

Below are the dates and topics that occurred during the 2021 season.  Click on the event title to watch a recording of the webinar presentation.

Monday, February 22,  6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.                 

The COVID-19 Pandemic – Can We Finally Win the Warwith Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Monday, March 15,  6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.                   

The Biden Administration and Congress – Can We Finally Govern? with John Kasich, Governor of Ohio (2011-2019) and Claire McCaskill, U.S. Senator Missouri (2007-2019).

Monday, April 19,  6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.                   

Allies and Adversaries – Can the U.S. Be a World Leader Again? with John Bolton, U.S. National Security Advisor (2018-2019); Michèle Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012); and Admiral Mike Mullen, USN, Ret., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2007-2011).

Monday, May 17,  6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.                   

Restoring Trust in the Presidency – Can We Heal Our Political Divide with with Bill Clinton, President of the United States (1993-2001) and Dan Quayle, Vice President of the United States (1989-1993).

Panetta Institute Receives $200,000 from AT&T to Support the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of the Congressional Internship Program

In October 2020, the Panetta Institute received a grant of $200,000 from AT&T California in support of the Institute’s Congressional Institute Program.  The contribution was part of the company’s philanthropic focus on social and economic equality in underserved communities.

AT&T believes in investing in programs that help underserved students so that they have opportunities for greater economic empowerment over the course of their lives. The Congressional Internship Program is designed to grow young people into tomorrow’s leaders, and we are proud to support the Panetta Institute’s work with a diversity of students.  

–  Bettye Saxon, Ed. D., External Affairs Director for AT&T on the Central Coast

Serving all twenty-three campuses within the California State University (CSU) system, the Panetta Institute provides California State University students, many from low-income families and first-generation students, with educational programs that focus on opportunities in public policy, government and politics.

With support from AT&T, the Panetta Institute continues to engage a growing group of diverse California students who are interested in pursuing leadership roles in public service careers.  The mission of the internship program is to create robust educational and career pathways for students who may not otherwise have this opportunity.

— Sylvia Panetta, Co-Chair and CEO of the Panetta Institute

We are committed to making sure that the next generation of public servants and leaders come from diverse communities.  It is about inspiring youth and creating opportunities for them to build a career in this important arena.

— Leon E. Panetta, Chairman of the Panetta Institute

Learn more about the Congressional Internship Program.

Panetta Institute and CSUMB Receive Grants from the Koret Foundation

The Koret Foundation notified the Panetta Institute on May 8, 2020 that their board of directors had approved the Panetta Institute’s grant request of $400,000, to be distributed over the period of five years.  The monies are to be used for the Institute’s civic education programs:  the Congressional Internship Program, the Education for Leadership in Public Service Seminar, and the Policy Research Fellows Program.

The Koret Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Panetta Institute, due to the relationship that Secretary Panetta has with Stanford economist Dr. Michael Boskin, who heads the Koret Foundation’s board of directors.  Dr. Boskin and the Secretary have a long history of collaboration, going back to the Secretary’s time leading the House Budget Committee, which overlapped with Dr. Boskin’s role as chairman of the George H.W. Bush administration’s economic council.

In 2020, Secretary Panetta introduced Dr. Boskin to CSU Monterey Bay (CSUMB) President, Eduardo Ochoa, and under Dr. Boskin’s direction, the Koret Foundation awarded CSUMB $2.3 million to support undergraduate research programs and the campus graduation initiative, in addition to expanding the Panetta Institute’s intern program to include two additional students, each year, over a five-year period.

Based in San Francisco, the Koret Foundation is a private philanthropic organization committed to strengthening the Bay Area community and nurturing the continuity of the Jewish People worldwide.  Koret’s Bay Area grant making focuses on four initiatives: higher education, K-12 education, arts and culture, and civic projects.


Contact Us

The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
100 Campus Center, Building 86E
California State University, Monterey Bay
Seaside, California 93955

Phone 831-582-4200
Fax 831-582-4082

When using e-mail or fax, please be sure to provide your name, USPS mailing address, and your daytime and evening telephone number.