The Twenty-First Annual Leadership in Education Seminar Continued in 2020 Via Online Conferencing – Student Leaders Learn Valuable Skills From Diverse Experts

Firmly believing that leaders are made not born, Secretary Leon E. Panetta established the Leadership Seminar in 1999. This year again, this first-of-its-kind program, included student body leaders elected by the twenty-three different campuses within the California State University system, a student leader representative from CSSA and a student trustee from the California State University Chancellor’s Office.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Leadership Seminar in its twenty-first year was conducted through web-conferencing connecting the twenty-five enrolled elected student body leaders to nationally renowned speakers who shared their insights on leadership from a variety of different perspectives in different fields. The program, held from Monday, June 15 through Friday, June 19, provided a unique opportunity for students to interact with this diverse group of prominent leaders, learn from their experiences, and engage in dialogue about current policy issues and leadership challenges in the 21st century.

These students then went back to their campuses and communities, ready to serve as more effective leaders.

I don’t thank I can thank the Secretary and CEO Panetta enough for choosing to continue with this Leadership Program.  Even in the “virtual” setting, I was able to pick up a lot of information from the amazing list of guest speakers they arranged for us.  I truly believe that this was a once in a lifetime experience and I am very appreciative of Secretary Panetta, his wife (CEO Panetta), and the behind-the-scenes organizers in figuring out how to put these seminars together through Zoom.  I am grateful to have been nominated to attend and I will carry the lessons learned from the program to improve my leadership skills, better my relationship with my team, and remain honest at all times.

— 2020 Leadership Seminar Participant

2020 Leadership Seminar Speakers

Joining Secretary Panetta for the 2020 program were the following speakers addressing the noted topics:

  • Presidential Leadership: Leadership in Turbulent Times

Douglas Brinkley, Ph.D., Professor of History, Rice University and CNN Presidential Historian

  • Leadership in National Security: The Links Between National Security and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jeremy Bash, NBC Security Analyst and Former Chief of Staff for the Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense

  • Leadership in the Judicial Branch: Delivering Equal Justice Under the Law

Justice Ming W. Chin, Associate Justice California Supreme Court

  • Leadership in Business: The “Bottom Line” in Achieving Success in the Real World

Dorian Daley, J.D., Oracle Vice President and General Counsel

  • Leadership in Competitive Sports: Developing Character and Conviction

Coach Herman Edwards, Arizona State University Head Football Coach, NFL Coach and Player and ESPN analyst

  • Leadership in the Media: Journalism as Civic Leadership

David Gergen, J.D., Presidential Advisor to four U.S. Presidents and CNN Political Analyst

  • Leadership in Congress: Forging Consensus and Building Coalitions

U.S. Representative Joshua Gottheimer (D-NJ)
U.S. Representative Thomas Reed (R-NY)
U.S. Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) as Moderator

  • Leadership and the Budget; Striving for Responsible Leadership

Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

  • Leadership in the Military: From Commitment to Command

Admiral Bill McRaven, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

  • Leadership in Education: Developing and Delivering Life-Long Learning Skills

President Janet Napolitano, University of California System and Former Secretary of Homeland Security

  • Community Leadership: Becoming Effective Change Makers

Fernando Torres-Gil, Ph.D., U.S. Assistant Secretary on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • Leadership and Race: How to Develop Leadership that Contributes to Social Justice

Chris Womack, Executive Vice President Southern Company

Students further completed sixteen hours of course work by submitting written deliverables based on the lessons they learned from each speaker. Students also made two presentations along with a written report on the Panetta Institute’s 2020 Youth Civic Engagement Survey, and a final written leadership proposal wherein student body officers described their goals for the 2020-2021 school year and the methods they planned to use to achieve those goals. Upon successful completion of the program, participating student body leaders received three units of academic credit and a Certificate of Completion issued by the Panetta Institute. The Leadership Seminar is a California State University accredited course. The total number of student participants to date is 549.

The 2020 student participants: 

Name Institutional Affiliation Title
Cynella Aghasi CSU Stanislaus ASI President
Jasmine Bhardwaj CSU Monterey Bay AS President
Andrew Carrillo San Francisco State University ASI President
Diana Chavez CSU Los Angeles ASI President
Vanessa Chicaiza CSU Bakersfield ASI President
Zobeida Delgadillo San José State University AS President
Jeremiah Finley Humboldt State University AS President
Alondra Esquivel Garcia California State Student Assn. Student Representative
Michael Garrett CSU San Marcos ASI President
Vanessa Groppetti Dominican University AS President
Bre Holbert Chico State University AS President
Christian Holt San Diego State University AS President
Melissa Kadar Sonoma State University AS President
Maryana Khames CSU Student Trustee Student Trustee
Shayna Lynch Cal Poly San Luis Obispo ASI President
Evelyn Campos Martinez CSU Dominguez Hills ASI Director of Students
Noah Marty CSU Sacramento ASI President
Roselva Merida CSU Northridge AS President
Graciela Moran CSU San Bernardino ASI President
Sophie Nguyen CSU Channel Islands ASI President
Omar Prudencio-Gonzalez CSU Long Beach ASI President
Hisham Qutob CSU Fresno ASI President
Marcus Reveles CSU Fullerton ASI President
Euridice Sanchez-Martinez CSU East Bay ASI President
Lucille Yu Cal Poly Pomona ASI President


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