Panetta Institute Announces the Annual Leon Panetta Lecture Series for 2023 – The Presidency and a Divided Congress:  Can They Govern?

Live In-Person Events Featuring John Boehner, Douglas Brinkley, Steny Hoyer, David Petraeus, Bob Gates, and Bob Woodward, Among Others








The Panetta Institute announced a return to live in-person events for the 2023 Leon Panetta Lecture Series. This year’s theme will focus on The Presidency and a Divided Congress: Can They Govern?  Joining Secretary Panetta in these important discussions is an impressive list of speakers covering economic issues, foreign policy and defense, partisan politics and history.

The events for the 2023 season are as follows:*

Monday, March 27, 2023 – 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Economy and Inflation – Can We Avoid a Recession? 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with Michael Boskin, professor of Economics and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush; John Harwood, journalist and former White House Correspondent; Maya MacGuineas, president, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget; and Christina Romer, Garff B. Wilson Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley and former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.

Monday, April 17, 2023 – 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  

Democracy vs. Autocracy – Can the U.S. Unify Allies in a Dangerous World? with Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense (2006-2011); General David Petraeus, U.S. Army (Ret.), Director of the CIA (2011- 2012); and Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.), NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (2009-2013).

Monday, May 29, 2023 – 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Message from the Midterms – Will Republicans and Democrats Listen? with John Boehner, U.S. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (2011-2015); Liz Cheney, U.S. Representative (R), Wyoming (2017-2021) (invited); Heidi Heitkamp, U.S. Senator (D), North Dakota (2013-2019); and Steny Hoyer, U.S. Representative (D), Maryland.

Monday, June 12, 2023 – 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  

History and a Divided Nation – Can We Survive? with Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and CNN commentator; Annette Gordon-Reed, American historian and Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University and winner of the Pulitzer Prizein History in 2009 and the National Book Award in 2008, for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family; and  Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.

“After two years of Democratic control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, the 118thCongress returns the nation to the realities of a divided government,” said Institute chairman Leon E. Panetta.  “A single party has controlled the White House and the Congress only three times in the last three decades.  But, at a time when so much is at stake can the nation afford the risks associated with a do-nothing Congress?  Will the Congress act to raise the debt limit and avoid damaging our economy?  Can we avoid an economic recession?  Will the new Congress remain unified in support of the war in Ukraine?  Will the Congress work together and avoid gridlock?  Finally, are there lessons we can learn from history that can guide us forward in this divisive time.  I’ll pose these questions to our impressive list of speakers.”

Subscriptions to the program include tickets to all four live events and are available for $400.  Individual tickets sell for $100.  Forums will be held live at the Monterey Conference Center.

The Panetta Institute for Public Policy Awarded

Senators Richard Burr and Jeanne Shaheen,

and Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Bennie Thompson

the Jefferson-Lincoln Awards at Twenty-Second

Evening to Honor Lives of Public Service that was held on

Saturday, November 12, 2022


The Panetta Institute for Public Policy announced the recipients of its 2022 Jefferson-Lincoln Awards. This year the annual awards were presented to U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R) of North Carolina, U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R) of Illinois, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) of New Hampshire and U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson (D) of Mississippi.  The honors were conferred at a black-tie gala dinner held at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach on Saturday, November 12, 2022.

Commenting on the honorees, Institute Chairman and Co-Founder Leon E. Panetta said, “governing in our democracy depends on strong bipartisan leadership.  At a time of increasing challenges – from the economy threatened with inflation and a probable recession, to growing inequality, to the loss of critical freedoms and values, the threat to personal security and the threat to national security – we need leadership that is willing to work together. At this critical time, the Panetta Institute honors four leaders who are examples of the bipartisan leadership needed in our democracy.”

The November 12 celebration also served as the premier fundraiser to help support The Panetta Institute for Public Policy and its mission to attract thoughtful men and women to lives of public service, inspiring them to a high standard of conduct and equipping them with the practical skills of self-government.  The gala featured a gourmet four-course meal and award-winning wines.

The Panetta Institute would like to thank their sponsors and supporters for their generous support.

Dignitary Sponsors:

Sherry E. DeBoer

Debra and George Couch III

Gordon and Ronda Eubanks

Cannery Row Company and The Don Chapin Company, Inc.

California State University, Monterey Bay

Susan Prest and Allen Sherwood (IM)

Sponsor of Distinction:

The Frank & Denise Quattrone Foundation; Denise Foderaro and Frank Quattrone, Trustees


Tonya Antle

Beacon Global Strategies

Laurie and David Benjamin

Blue Shield of California

The Boeing Company

California American Water

Chevron Corporation

Dorian Daley and Michael Krautkramer

Dominican University of California


Fenton & Keller

Koret Foundation

Stan McKee

Stan and Sharon Meresman


Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Pacific Maritime Association/Sugerman Communications Group

Pebble Beach Company

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Susan Prest and Allen Sherwood (IM)

Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System

Santa Clara University

Southern Company

Stanley Zax

Zenith Insurance Company


AT&T California

Bank of America Private Bank

Michael and Chris Boskin

CommonSpirit Health

Al Glover and Guest

Kaiser Permanente

Katrina and Luca Maestri

Montage Health

Pacific Coast Building Products, Inc.

Julie Packard

The Panetta Family

Melissa and Shawn Rozsa

Vishal Verma

Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program Began with Two-Week Orientation Course

Now in its twenty-fourth year, the Panetta Institute’s acclaimed Congressional Internship Program welcomed a new class of students for what is considered one of the premier undergraduate internship programs in the nation.  Former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta once again led the course, which began with a two-week period of classes designed to prepare participating students for their fall semester of work in the Washington offices of the California congressional delegation.  The orientation classes began on Monday, August 8, and are the first part of the thirteen-week hands-on learning experience for accomplished, civic-minded young people.

Among the many experts participating in this year’s academic course were:  Vice President Dan Quayle; former President and CEO of the NAACP Ben Jealous; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; former President of the University of California and Governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano; former Chief of Staff to the Director of the CIA and the Secretary of Defense  Jeremy Bash; Dan Balz, chief correspondent, The Washington Post; Jason Smith, the U.S. House parliamentarian; U.S. Representatives Jimmy Panetta, Josh Gottheimer and Blake Moore; California State Senators Anna Caballero and John Laird; and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty.

“Our recent student survey found college students were deeply frustrated by the quality of leadership in Washington, D.C.” said Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta.  “They are concerned about the economy and discouraged by what they see as a lack of action on key issues like income equality, student loan relief, race relations and climate change.  This program allows them to see how the legislative process responds to these issues with the goal of teaching participants how they might in the future participate in our democracy to make a difference.  At the Panetta Institute, we believe active civic participation by the next generation is the best means of protecting our nation for the future.”

Click here to learn about the Congressional Internship Program.

Panetta Institute Survey Shows Students Extremely Worried About the State of the Economy, the Direction of the Nation and Biden’s Leadership

In the twenty-second year of its nationwide survey of college students, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy has found that college students have a very negative perception of the health of the nation.  Deeply concerned about the economy and rising prices, they are concerned about their future and frustrated by what they see as President Biden’s failure to take action on a number of key issues.  As a result, the optimism students expressed in the 2021 survey has been replaced by pessimism and steeply falling approval ratings for the President.










“College students are worried about inflation and their own economic future,” notes Institute chairman and former United States Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. “For the first time in the survey’s twenty-two year history, the findings do not show a majority of college students who believe they will be better off than their parents.  These every day financial concerns have transferred into deep dissatisfaction with the nation’s leadership both in the White House and in Congress.”

Click here for this year’s Panetta Institute 2022 Survey Report.

All Four Events in the 2022 Leon Panetta Lecture Series Now Available for Viewing













This year’s Leon Panetta Lecture Series themed The 2022 Midterm Elections and the Future of Our Democracy focused on the midterm elections, foreign policy, the economy and voting.

Below are the dates and topics that occurred during the 2022 season.  Click on the event title to watch a recording of the webinar presentation.

Monday, February 28, 6:00 p.m.:  Who Will Win – Democrats, Republicans, Truth or Fear? featuring JAMES CARVILLE—Democratic Strategist and Political Contributor for CNN and KARL ROVE—Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy (2005-2007) and Political Advisor to President George W. Bush.

Monday, March 14, 6:00 p.m.:  Who Will Lead The World in the Fight Between Democracy and Autocracy? featuring HILLARY CLINTON, Secretary of State (2009-2012) and DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2010-2016)

Monday, April 19, 6:00 p.m:  Who Will Deal with the Challenges in the Economy – Inflation, Inequality and the Debt? [part 2] featuring JASON FURMAN, Chair, Council of Economic Advisors (2013-2017) and WILLIAM DUDLEY, President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York (2009-2018).

Monday, May 2, 6:00 p.m.:  Who Will Vote and Will Every Vote Count? featuring KELLY AYOTTE, U.S. Senator (R) New Hampshire (2011-2017), BILL BRADLEY, U.S. Senator (D) New Jersey (1979-1997) and DAVID GERGEN, Presidential Advisor and Senior Political Analyst for CNN.


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.