I am pleased to welcome Leon Panetta, a distinguished leader with decades of experience at the highest levels of government, to the PPIC Board of Directors. His leadership talent and exceptional knowledge of public policy will be an invaluable asset to PPIC as we work to shape a better future for California.
Panetta, who is chairman of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, has had a 50-year career in public service at the national and state levels of government. He most recently served as US secretary of defense, from 2011–13. Before that, he was director of the CIA, where he successfully led the operation that brought Osama bin Laden to justice.
A Monterey native and graduate of the Santa Clara University School of Law, Panetta began his public service career in 1964 as a first lieutenant in the US Army and received the Army Commendation Medal. He then served as a legislative assistant to US Senator Tom Kuchel. In 1969, he was appointed director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, responsible for enforcing equal education laws. Elected to Congress in 1976, he represented the California central coast for sixteen years. In 1993, he was sworn in as director of the US Office of Management and Budget, where he was instrumental in developing the policies that led to achieving a balanced federal budget. A year later, President Clinton appointed him White House chief of staff.
After leaving the Clinton administration in 1997, he and Sylvia Panetta established the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit study center to inspire men and women to lives of public service. He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir Worthy Fights.
As a new board member, Panetta has been elected to a three-year term and is eligible for a maximum of three three-year terms. The PPIC board is chaired by author and farmer Mas Masumoto. It is made up of myself; Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of GROW Elect; María Blanco, executive director of the University of California Immigrant Legal Services Center; Louise Henry Bryson, chair emerita of the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust; A. Marisa Chun, partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP; Chet Hewett, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation; Phil Isenberg, former chair of the Delta Stewardship Council; Donna Lucas, chief executive officer of Lucas Public Affairs; Steven A. Merksamer, senior partner of Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Gross & Leoni, LLP; Gerald L. Parsky, chairman of the Aurora Capital Group; Kim Polese, chairman of ClearStreet, Inc.; and Gaddi H. Vasquez, senior vice president of government affairs for Edison International and Southern California Edison.