Visiting Instructors

The Panetta Institute provides its students with varied role models drawn from the diversity of American public life and incorporating these men and women and their knowledge into its classrooms. In this pursuit, the Institute features a number of visiting instructors who participate in a variety of our programs. From real-world experience, research and scholarship, these individuals offer valuable perspective and enrichment on politics and policy.

Ryan Coonerty, Supervisor, 3rd District, County of Santa Cruz

Elected to the Santa Cruz County board of supervisors in 2014, Ryan Coonerty is a two-time former mayor of the City of Santa Cruz, an entrepreneur, author and educator. He is the cofounder of NextSpace Coworking + Innovation, and a lecturer on law and government at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

As mayor and councilmember, Supervisor Coonerty led successful efforts to reach a historic agreement with UCSC and to invest the city’s reserve funds back into the community to spur the local economy, authored the Clean Oceans, Rivers and Beaches initiative, and brought a new generation into civic life through the creation of Santa Cruz NEXT. Supervisor Coonerty also played a key role in attracting the Santa Cruz Warriors, developed online programs to simplify permitting for citizens and small businesses and created policies to increase the use of local alternative energy. He works hard to protect the environment, create jobs and economic opportunity, enhance public safety and improve government services for citizens. He also serves on numerous non-profit boards.

Supervisor Coonerty attended Santa Cruz’s public schools and graduated from the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College. He received an M.A. from the London School of Economics and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He lives in Santa Cruz with his wife Emily, daughter Daisy and son Kellan.

James Copeland, Senior Advisor to CJ Lake, LLC; Former White House Deputy Assistant to the President Jimmy Carter

Senior Advisor to CJ Lake, LLC, a law and government relations firm, James Copeland has extensive experience working with the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

Mr. Copeland began his career in banking with positions at Continental Illinois National Bank in Chicago, then with Security National Bank in Walnut Creek, California. He moved to Washington in 1972, working on Capitol Hill, as chief of staff to United States Representative Pete Stark. He later coordinated the Northern California Carter-Mondale presidential campaign, and subsequently served in the White House as deputy assistant for congressional liaison to President Carter.

Following his White House tenure, Mr. Copeland became vice president for government relations in the Washington office of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He later worked as a government relations consultant to two Washington law firms and in 1992 co-founded Copeland and Hatfield, the forerunner of CJ Lake, LLC.

Mr. Copeland’s clients at the federal level have included cities, counties, transit districts and a major life insurance company. He has also represented a university and the California State Senate. He is known for work in transportation policy and the inner workings of local, state and the federal governments.

Mr. Copeland is a past member of the Habitat for Humanity International board of directors where he served as vice chair. He holds a B.A. from Trinity College in Illinois and an M.B.A. from Loyola University in Chicago. He served in the United States Navy receiving an honorable discharge with the grade of lieutenant.

Jim Cunneen, Former Assemblyman, 24th District, California State Assembly

Pairing his executive leadership at two Fortune 500 companies and the San José Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce with his service in the California legislature, Jim Cunneen joined California Strategies in 2007 to provide political, regulatory and public affairs counsel to California Strategies’ clients. His voice and influence have led to some of the most significant public policy advancements in the Silicon Valley. His deep roots in the region extend from his service at Cisco, where he oversaw national and state public policy, communication and political outreach, and Applied Materials, Inc., where he managed executive and employee communications, philanthropy and government affairs functions.

Mr. Cunneen began his political and government career in the 1980s serving in senior positions with former Congressman Tom Campbell, former State Senator Becky Morgan and former Congressman Ed Zschau. He is also the co-founder and former chair of the Silicon Valley Coalition for Jobs Now, a group focused on improving the area’s economic competitiveness. He was a charter mayoral appointee to the Coyote Valley Specific Plan Task Force, involving a major regional land-use issue.

Mr. Cunneen served as a California State Assembly Member from 1994 to 2000, establishing himself as an authority on technology and quality-of-life issues. He won approval of legislation to expand the state research and development tax credit, curb shareholder lawsuits, crack down on commercial theft of high-tech products, and protect trade secrets. In 1995, he co-created and later chaired the newly established Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Information Technology and Transportation. In addition, he was vice chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Resources where he was considered a key player in balancing environmental protection and a strong economy. The San José Mercury News described Assemblymember Cunneen as “an intelligent, energetic and effective legislator.”

As President and CEO of the 2,000-member San José Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce from 2001 to 2005, Mr. Cunneen helped guide many of the region’s public policy and economic development efforts. His administration helped architect efforts to modernize San José Mineta International Airport, expand the San José McEnery Convention Center and pass numerous education, public safety and transportation ballot measures. While at the Chamber, he also created a number of innovative programs, including San José’s popular CityTrip, an annual journey of top business and political leaders to major urban centers with the aim of benchmarking approaches and solutions to major urban challenges. The Chamber’s political, membership and financial positions increased substantially under his leadership.

Mr. Cunneen has served on dozens of local non-profit and community boards, including the American Leadership Forum, Goodwill Silicon Valley, Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley Advisory Committee, Sustainable Valley Foundation, San José Police Foundation, Good Samaritan Hospital, and the Advisory Board of KB Home.

Mr. Cunneen has received numerous leadership awards from the American Electronics Association and a wide range of education and environmental groups, and was named Citizen of the Year by both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.

Mr. Cunneen and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and live in San José’s Almaden Valley. He is an Eagle Scout and a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Les Francis, Principal and Senior Strategist, Washington Media Group

A principal and senior strategist at Washington Media Group, Les Francis is a featured lecturer at the Congressional Internship Program. As a communication specialist and political strategist he lectures on how best to coordinate political issues between the private and public sectors.

In 1981, Mr. Francis launched his own business, The FMR Group, which was a pioneer in the grassroots-lobbying field. The firm was known for its innovative and effective constituency development efforts, winning national recognition from the Public Relations Society of America and the American Association of Political Consultants.

Prior to his current position at Washington Media Group, Mr. Francis was chief of staff for then-U.S. Congressman Norm Mineta, after which he served as deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter and deputy White House chief of staff. He was executive vice president of Winner & Associates and a principal in Winner/Wagner & Mandabach Campaigns. He spent three years at Goddard Claussen Strategic Advocacy and beginning in 2001 served for five years as vice president for Communications & Public Affairs at the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

In addition to managing or consulting with dozens of initiative and referendum campaigns over the past two decades, Mr. Francis served as a staff member, manager, or senior advisor in campaigns for almost every office from city council to president of the United States. At different times in his career, he has also served as the executive director of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mr. Francis has also served as a volunteer consultant to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and has advised democratic movements and parties in Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bolivia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Bosnia. For several years he was a faculty member of political communications and political campaign ethics.

With his extensive and varied experience in politics and government at the local, state and federal levels, Mr. Francis is a frequent source for journalists as they cover or analyze current events. He has authored and co-authored articles for many of the country’s leading newspapers, and has been a guest lecturer at several universities.

John Franzén, President, Franzén and Company

President of Franzén & Company, from 2009 to 2014, John Franzén served as senior communications officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C., helping to shape the organization’s public image and advance its policy goals.

Mr. Franzén began his career in public service as Senator George McGovern’s state-level press secretary in New Hampshire, Illinois, Oregon and New York in the 1972 presidential campaign, and subsequently served as press secretary, speech writer and legislative aide to several other candidates and office holders. In 1976 he successfully managed Leon Panetta’s first campaign for Congress and then served as then Congressman Panetta’s first congressional chief of staff.

Prior to joining Pew, Mr. Franzén spent thirty years as head of his own media production and consulting firm, serving political campaigns, public interest groups and other organizations nationwide. Franzén & Company’s clients included numerous candidates for Congress, United States Senate, governor and other offices, along with state-level initiative and referendum campaigns and several major United States companies.

At his consulting firm, Mr. Franzén designed and supervised start-up of a new television production studio at Democratic national headquarters, where he produced a library of television messages that were used by hundreds of successful candidates. He also helped launch AARP’s national voter education program and produced most of its television messages over the following eight years.

Mr. Franzén is a seven-time national winner of the Silver Microphone Award for outstanding radio advertising, and has also won dozens of other awards for his work in television, film, radio and print. Examples of his work are included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. He served for fifteen years on the board of the American Association of Political Consultants and has written and lectured widely on United States political campaigns and communication techniques.

A resident of Capitol Hill since 1973, Mr. Franzén serves on the boards of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation and the Old Naval Hospital Foundation, which has created a new educational and cultural center for the Washington, D.C. neighborhood. He is also the founding chairman of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project and coordinator of the organization’s lecture series.

A native of South Dakota, Mr. Franzén earned a M.A. in English literature from McGill University.

Patrick Griffin, Former Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Partner, GriffinWilliams, LLC

A partner in GriffinWilliams LLC, a management consulting firm, Patrick Griffin brings an in-depth understanding of how Washington makes policy to his teaching at the Congressional Internship Program. With thirty years of experience on Capitol Hill, in the White House and in the private sector, Dr. Griffin lectures on how private and public entities can shape internal strategies to achieve objectives.

Before coming to Washington, Dr. Griffin was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During the Clinton administration, he was appointed assistant to the president for legislative affairs. He worked directly with the president, cabinet members and other senior administration officials as well as with leadership in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Dr. Griffin also served as senior policy advisor to two Senate Democratic leaders, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Additionally, he served as secretary for the Democrats in the Senate, where he was the only Democratic-elected officer of the Senate.

Prior to co-founding his current company, Dr. Griffin was senior vice president and managing director for the government relations division of Burston-Marsteller. He then founded the governmental relations firm of Griffin, Johnson, Madigan and Peck. He spent more than twenty years building organizational capacity, designing political positioning strategies and achieving legislative results for Fortune 500 companies, non-profit associations, state and local governments as well as educational institutions.

Dr. Griffin is also the academic director for the public affairs and advocacy institute in the School of Government at American University. In addition, he serves as a director on the board of the National Democratic Institute.

He has B.A. and M.A. degrees in urban affairs and policy, and a Ph.D in education.

Dennis Hungridge, Founder and Principal Consultant, Workplace Learning Designs

As founder and principal consultant at Workplace Learning Designs, Dennis Hungridge provides training, organizational and learning development programs for small and medium-sized businesses on the Central Coast.

Immediately before founding Workplace Learning Designs, Mr. Hungridge held the position as the human resources learning and development manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He joined the Aquarium with wide experience and education, including human resources management, training and development, teaching, and purchasing management with San José State University, California State University, Monterey Bay, Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay, Motel 6 and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mr. Hungridge holds the Senior Professional Human Resources designation as certified by the Society for Human Resources Management and is a member of the American Society for Training & Development.

Mr. Hungridge earned a B.A. in German language and literature from the University of California, Riverside and an M.A. in adult education from San Francisco State University, as well as a teaching credential in adult education (Clear, Designated Subjects). He has taught adult courses in English as a second language and various levels of K-12 in San José and Los Angeles. Mr. Hungridge is currently working on a master’s of business administration.

Drew Liebert, Former Chief Counsel, California Assembly Judiciary Committee

In his former role as chief counsel to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee, Drew Liebert was in the fulcrum of many of the state’s most important pieces of legislation debated and enacted by California policymakers, including proposals to reform California’s democracy.

One of the California legislature’s most senior staff attorneys, Mr. Liebert worked for more than twenty-six years in both houses of the California state legislature. He was the chief counsel to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for more than seventeen years, where he and his staff counsel reviewed and advised state legislators about virtually all areas of the state’s civil justice system.

Mr. Liebert is also a frequent guest lecturer across the state on the legislature’s inner workings and speaks regularly to students enrolled in programs at The Panetta Institute for Public Policy.

In addition to his past work in the legislature, Mr. Liebert is an adjunct professor at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, and an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley teaching about the legislative process and about the intersection of law, politics, ethics and leadership. In 2011, Mr. Liebert was recognized by the journal California Lawyer as one of its Attorneys of the Year.

Mr. Liebert is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, a recipient of an M.A. in public policy from the Claremont Graduate School, a CORO Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs, and a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).

Bill Lowery, Principal, Innovative Federal Strategies, LLC; Former United States Representative, 41st District, California

Principal of Innovative Federal Strategies, LLC, Bill Lowery’s experience as an elected representative in both local and federal government provides him with valuable insight into the legislative and political processes. By serving in the private sector and working on behalf of interests that vary from states to municipalities and large corporations to small businesses, he has kept his hand in the public policy arena. Mr. Lowery also contributes an insider perspective that has proven invaluable to the firm’s clients.

Mr. Lowery’s career as a public official began in 1977 with his election to the San Diego City Council, where he was involved in economic development and downtown revitalization. He served as the city’s representative on the Joint City of San Diego-San Diego Unified School District School Finance Task Force. He was serving as deputy mayor in 1980 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Mr. Lowery served for twelve years as a member of Congress before retiring in 1993. While serving in the House, he was the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Military Construction Subcommittee and also served on several other Appropriations Subcommittees including: Veterans-Housing and Urban Development-Independent Agencies; Interior; and Treasury-Postal Service-General Government. Early in his congressional career, he was a member of the House Banking and Science Committees. He also served as ranking member of the Judiciary and Education Subcommittee for the House District of Columbia Committee.

Mr. Lowery is a member of the California Western School of Law Board of Trustees. He was a member of the board of directors of the Public Policy Institute of California. He is a frequent visiting lecturer at The Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University, Monterey Bay, on issues related to the appropriations process and the partisan divide in Congress. He also was a board member of the San Diego based ORINCON Corporation, an advanced technology firm acquired by Lockheed Martin Corporation, and a board member of DSR of Fairfax, Virginia, now a division of General Dynamics Corporation.

Mel Mason, President, Monterey Peninsula Branch, NAACP, and Co-Founder of the Village Project

Mel Mason and his spouse, Regina Mason, started the Village Project, an African American-focused family resource center located in Seaside. Mr. Mason previously was clinical supervisor, therapist and lecturer at California State University, Monterey Bay, as well as faculty advisor for the Black Students United and Associated Student Government. Given his rich and varied background on civil rights issues and in the fields of counseling and education, Mr. Mason lends an invaluable perspective for the Panetta Institute students at the Leadership Seminar.

Mr. Mason was elected to the Seaside City Council in 1980. He also chaired a committee that successfully created  Monterey Peninsula College’s trustee districts to ensure voter equity and increase minority representation on the college’s board of trustees. A political activist since 1967 and a former member of the Black Panther Party, he is a three-time president of the Monterey County Branch of the NAACP, and a former vice president of the California State NAACP. In 1970, he founded one of the first African American United Farmworkers Union Support Committees. He ran for president of the United States as a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in 1984. In 2006, Mr. Mason was named to the CSU Chancellor’s Access to Excellence Committee, which sought to recruit and retain more minority students for the CSU campuses.

Mr. Mason is the recipient of many awards and citations for his work as a civil rights and human rights activist. He has an A.A. from Monterey Peninsula College, a B.A. in social science from Golden Gate University, an M.S.W. from San José State University and a Clinical Social Workers License from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Bruce McPherson, Supervisor, Santa Cruz County; Former Secretary of State, California

Former California Secretary of State, Bruce McPherson is a featured lecturer at the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program and Leadership Seminar. In November of 2012, he was elected to the position of Santa Cruz County Supervisor, Fifth District. Supervisor McPherson not only provides students with an overview of the major issues facing the state of California, but he also guides students on leadership during times of crisis, recounting instances of his success in working in a bipartisan manner and the importance of collegial relationships.

Before his political career began, Supervisor McPherson worked in the newsroom of the Santa Cruz Sentinel for twenty-six years, including ten years as editor. In 1993, he was elected to the California Assembly, and served three years before being elected to the California State Senate in 1996 and 2000. In his eleven years in the California Legislature, he focused his attention on education, environmental protection and public safety, serving as chair of the Assembly Elections Committee and chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.

After the resignation of California’s secretary of state in early 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated Supervisor McPherson to that position. He was confirmed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly. In two years as Secretary, he updated the information technology required to meet election laws, and oversaw three statewide elections and two special elections.

Supervisor McPherson continues his public service through his work with several organizations, including California Forward, the Public Policy Institute of California, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. Supervisor McPherson graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in journalism in 1965.

Joe Minarik, Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Committee for Economic Development; Former Chief Economist of the Office of Management and Budget

Senior Vice President and Director of Research at the Committee for Economic Development (CED), Joe Minarik was the chief economist of the Office of Management and Budget for the eight years of the Clinton administration, helping to formulate the administration’s program to eliminate the budget deficit, including both the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 and the bipartisan Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

Prior to his service in the Clinton administration, Dr. Minarik worked closely with Senator      Bill Bradley on his efforts to reform the federal income tax, which culminated in the Tax Reform Act of 1986, and writing Making Tax Choices in 1985. He also served staff director of the Joint Economic Committee from 1989 to 1990, and as chief economist to the House Budget Committee from 1991 to 1992 and 2001 to 2005. Recently, he served on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force and the National Academy of Science’s Our Fiscal Future project, two national efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit. Dr. Minarik also writes a regular post at CED’s In the Nation’s Interest blog..

Dr. Minarik received three graduate degrees in economics from Yale University, earning his Ph.D. in 1974. He earned his B.A. in economics from Georgetown University in 1971.

Jack O’Connell, Partner, Capitol Advisors Groups; Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California

Currently serving as a partner of Capitol Advisors Group, Jack O’Connell served two terms as California’s 26th state superintendent of public instruction from January 2003 to January 2011.

During his two terms in that capacity and his twenty years as both a California state senator and assembly member, Mr. O’Connell focused on closing the achievement gap and preparing students for a rapidly changing global economy by holding high standards for all students. As a former high school teacher and author of the legislation creating the California High School Exit Exam, he led a comprehensive effort to increase rigor and improve student achievement in California high schools. He remains a strong supporter and facilitator of partnerships between schools, businesses, communities and philanthropies in order to engage all students with challenging, real-world education experiences.

Prior to becoming a founding partner of Capitol Advisors Group, Mr. O’Connell served as the chief education office at School Innovations & Advocacy.

Mr. O’Connell earned a B.A. in history from California State University, Fullerton and received his secondary teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach. He and his wife, Doree, have been married for thirty-six years and have a daughter, Jennifer.

David Pomerantz, Democratic Staff Director, House Appropriations Committee

Democratic staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, David Pomerantz lectures at the Congressional Internship Program, where he explains the inner workings of Congress.

Dr. Pomerantz began his career as a philosophy professor at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and came to Capitol Hill as a congressional fellow in 1982. From 1992 until 2001, he was a staff member and research director  for the House Rules Committee. From 2001 until the present, he has served in various positions with the House Appropriations Committee.

Dr. Pomerantz received a B.A. from Dickinson College and an M.A. and Ph.D in philosophy from Vanderbilt University.

Helen Rucker, Former Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Trustee and Community Advocate

A former Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Trustee and respected civil rights champion and community advocate, Helen Rucker is a member of the Leon Panetta Lecture Series taskforce and mentors at the Mid-Week Seminars for the Leon Panetta Lecture Series Student Program. She is also a frequent participant in panel discussions on community leadership in the Panetta Institute’s Leadership Seminar. Given her work in the civil rights movement — marches, sit-ins and protests of the late-1950s and 1960s — she serves as both a historical link to America’s 20th Century past and a role model for the youth in our programs today.

Ms. Rucker began her career as a teacher and librarian. She served for thirty-seven years at both elementary and high school levels in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, followed by tenures at schools at Oakland Unified School District, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and at American Schools for the U.S. Department of Defense in Germany. In 1988, she retired from Manzanita Elementary School in Seaside.

Ms. Rucker was elected to the Seaside City Council in 1992, and served as mayor pro tem from 1994 to 1998. As a council member, she represented the city of Seaside on numerous boards that addressed important city and regional policy issues such as water management, transportation and the Fort Ord Military Base closure and reuse.

In 2005, Ms. Rucker was elected to the board of trustees of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. She has volunteered extensively in programs such as After School Tuturing and the California State University, Monterey Bay, Service Learning Institute

Actively involved in a variety of other volunteer activities, Ms. Rucker is particularly committed to civil rights issues, voter registration, and tutoring and mentoring youth. Her work has been recognized with several awards and honors including the KSBW Jefferson Award, the Stephen E. Ross Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Ralph Atkinson Award from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Citizen of the Year from the Seaside/Sand City Chamber of Commerce, and the Monterey County Commission on the Status of Women’s Woman of the Year Award.

In addition to her work on the school board, Ms. Rucker is second vice president of the Monterey County chapter of the NAACP, a member of the California State University, Monterey Bay Service Learning Advisory Committee and a member of Seaside Citizens for Transparency in Government.

Ms. Rucker received her B.S. from Southern University and her M.L.S. from Louisiana State University. She has also studied at the University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Cruz, and San José State University.

John Sullivan, Former Parliamentarian, U.S. House of Representatives

The former parliamentarian of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Sullivan is a lecturer at the Congressional Internship Program, providing students with a detailed look at how Congress operates on a daily basis. He was appointed parliamentarian in 2004, having previously served as deputy parliamentarian (1994 to 2004) and as assistant parliamentarian (1987 to 1994).

Mr. Sullivan served for twenty-five years in the Office of the Parliamentarian of the House of Representatives. The parliamentarian is appointed by the Speaker of the House without regard to political affiliation to render nonpartisan assistance to the Speaker, to the other presiding officers, and to the members and staff of the House and its committees on legislative and parliamentary procedure. The parliamentarian also compiles and publishes the parliamentary precedents of the House.

Mr. Sullivan served in the U.S. Air Force as a trial and appellate lawyer. He later served as counsel to the House Committee on Armed Services before joining the office of the Parliamentarian. He is a bar member of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Indiana, the Supreme Court of Colorado, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Mr. Sullivan earned his B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy and his J.D. from the Indiana School of Law.

Mr. Sullivan was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1952, the third of nine children. He resides in Virginia with his wife, Nancy, and their three children.

Fernando Torres-Gil, Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles; Former United States Assistant Secretary on Aging, United States Department of Health and Human Services

Professor of social welfare and public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), an adjunct professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, and director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging, Fernando Torres-Gil has also served as associate dean and acting dean at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. Most recently, he has been appointed chair of the social welfare department.

Dr. Torres-Gil’s multifaceted career spans the academic, professional, and policy arenas. He has an impressive portfolio of public service and national and international recognition as a leading spokesperson on demographics, aging and public policy. He earned his first presidential appointment in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the Federal Council on Aging.  He was selected as a White House Fellow and served under Joseph Califano, then secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), and continued as a special assistant to the subsequent secretary of HEW, Patricia Harris.  He was appointed (with Senate confirmation) by President Bill Clinton as the first-ever United States assistant secretary on aging in the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). As the Clinton administration’s chief advocate on aging, Dr. Torres-Gil played a key role in promoting the importance of the issues of aging, long-term care and disability, community services for the elderly, and baby boomer preparation for retirement. He served under DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala, managing the administration on aging and organizing the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, in addition to serving as a member of the President’s Welfare Reform Working Group.

In 20l0, he received his third presidential appointment (with Senate confirmation) when President Barack Obama appointed him as vice chair of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that reports to the Congress and White House on federal matters related to disability policy.  During his public service in Washington, D.C., he also served as staff director of the United States House Select Committee on Aging under his mentor, United States Representative Edward R. Roybal.

At the local level, Dr. Torres-Gil has served as the vice president of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and a member of the Harbor and Taxi Commissions for the city of Los Angeles. He recently served as former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointed member of the Board of Airport Commissioners. At the state level, he was appointed by former Governor Gray Davis to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Veterans’ Homes and by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

Dr. Torres-Gil continues to provide important leadership in philanthropy and non-profit organizations as a board member of the American Association of Retired Persons Foundation, and he is a former board member of The California Endowment, National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California and the Los Angeles Chinatown Service Center. He most recently served as a member of the Institute on Medicine’s End-of-Life Committee (2013-2014).

In 2013, Dr. Torres-Gil received the coveted John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award from the White House Fellows Foundation and Association. He has written six books and over l00 publications, including The New Aging: Politics and Change in America (1992) and Lessons from Three Nations, Volumes I and II (2007).  His academic contributions have earned him membership in the prestigious Academies of Public Administration, Gerontology and Social Insurance.
Dr. Torres-Gil was born and raised in Salinas, California, the son of migrant farm workers. He earned his A.A. in political science at Hartnell Community College (1968), a B.A. with honors in political science from San José State University (1970), and an M.S.W. (1972) and Ph.D. (1976) in social policy, planning and research from the Heller Graduate School in Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

Philip Trounstine, Co-Publisher and Co-Editor of; Former Communications Director for Governor Gray Davis of California

Co-publisher and co-editor of, one of the most popular web sites for California politics, Philip Trounstine is also a pollster and communications consultant.

Mr. Trounstine was founder and, until April 2008, director of the Survey and Policy Research Institute (SPRI) at San José State University (SJSU) which produced the quarterly California Consumer Confidence Survey.

He was a general assignment and statehouse reporter for the Indianapolis Star from 1975 to 1978 and, for twenty years, from 1978 to 1998, a reporter, editorial writer and political editor for the San Jose Mercury News, covering local, state and national politics.

From 1999 until June 2001, Mr. Trounstine served as communications director for California Governor Gray Davis, responsible for the governor’s press office, speeches, public appearances and the public affairs for thirteen state agencies and sixty departments. He directed the redesign of the state’s award-winning web site and created California’s Flex Your Power campaign.

In October 2001, he joined SJSU, where he organized and directed SPRI, providing research and survey services for public, civic, educational, corporate and political organizations and individuals. He retired from SJSU in April 2008.

Mr. Trounstine provides writing, marketing, strategy, crisis-counseling and public appearance coaching for select clients. He is co-author of Movers and Shakers: The Study of Community Power, published by St. Martin’s Press, and he continues to write about politics for a variety of national and regional publications.

He studied at Stanford, graduated with honors from SJSU and later served as a Pulliam Fellow, Duke University Fellow and John S. Knight Fellow. Mr. Trounstine has won numerous regional and statewide reporting awards and was a lead writer for the San José Mercury News coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

He lives in Aptos with his wife Deborah. They have five grown children.