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PPIC Honors Statesman George Shultz

Linda Strean June 11, 2014
photo - George Shultz

PPIC yesterday dedicated the George P. Shultz Forum at its Bechtel Conference Center, in honor of the U.S. statesman, economist, and businessman.

Shultz attended the dedication in the Bechtel Conference Center, a meeting and learning space located on the ground level at PPIC’s San Francisco headquarters. The George P. Shultz Forum is the main convening area at the conference center.

Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, noted that the George P. Shultz Forum will be a gathering place for a growing number of civic-minded groups. Speaking to an audience that included the PPIC board of directors, staff, donors, and special guests, Baldassare said, “This is a fitting way to honor George Shultz’s remarkable career in public service and his reputation for bridging policy divides on issues ranging from climate change to nuclear proliferation. It will be an inspiration to our guests.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, speaking on video from Washington, noted key accomplishments in Shultz’s career. “When it comes to public policy and public service, there is no better model than George Shultz,” she said.

Shultz, who has a Ph.D. in industrial economics, was appointed secretary of labor in 1969, director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1970, and secretary of the treasury in 1972. He was president of the Bechtel Group from 1974 to 1982. He also served as chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board from 1981 to 1982 and secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1989. Since then, he has been a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

In his comments, Shultz reflected on lessons he had learned in his career of government service—including the importance of nonpartisanship. He said it is important that “PPIC keep the nonpartisan spirit alive.”

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” he added. “And nonpartisan work is a very important part of it. You identify problems, get the facts straight, figure out how people feel, and put the information forward in a way that people can understand.”

The PPIC event also included a conversation between Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Baldassare. They talked about climate change and energy policy—issues that Shultz has focused on for many years. Newsom noted that Shultz’s career is a reminder that environmental stewardship and sustainability used to be bipartisan issues. He also said California needs to step up its leadership on climate policies and work to expand the clean technology sector.

Other guests at the event included former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown; Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., retired chairman and a director of the Bechtel Group, Inc., and his family; and John Gunn, chairman emeritus of Dodge & Cox.

The Bechtel Conference Center was made possible by a gift from the Stephen Bechtel Fund in 2009. Its design and operation reflect PPIC’s focus on neutrality, consensus building, and respect for different perspectives. And the center’s LEED Gold certification highlights the emphasis that both PPIC and the Bechtel family place on environmental and technological innovation. This year, a group of donors led by Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., provided a gift to dedicate the forum to Shultz. The gift will be used to upgrade the technology in the forum and establish a fund to make the space available to and affordable for other civic-minded organizations.

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