Foreign and Domestic Policies and the Challenges of a Divided Nation: A Conversation with Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
“Go forward, knowing that you are greater than the challenges of your time.” – Leon Panetta
Please join Ambassador Joseph Westphal ’70, PhD for a conversation with Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Together they will discuss and explore his career in politics that led to him running for Congress, the role of presidential power both then and now as well as the role of the Department of Defense and CIA based on his experiences. All attendees are encouraged to raise important questions about topics they feel are important to address in this conversation.
About the Speakers
Secretary Leon Panetta
A Monterey native and Santa Clara University School of Law graduate, Secretary Panetta began his long and distinguished public service career in 1964 as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army, and upon discharge went to work in Washington as a legislative assistant to United States Senate Minority Whip Tom Kuchel of California. In 1969, he was appointed director of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare’s Office for Civil Rights, where he was responsible for enforcing equal education laws. Later, he served as executive assistant to the mayor of New York City. He then returned to Monterey, where he practiced law until his election to the United States House of Representatives in 1976.
Serving in Congress for sixteen years, Secretary Panetta was a key participant in agriculture, healthcare, ocean and federal budget issues. From 1989 to 1993, he chaired the House Budget Committee. He authored a wide range of legislation, including the Hunger Prevention Act of 1988, Medicare and Medicaid coverage for hospice care for the terminally ill, and numerous measures to protect the California coast, including creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
In 1993, Secretary Panetta left Congress to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton administration. There, he was instrumental in developing the policies that led to a balanced federal budget and eventual surpluses. In 1994, he accepted the appointment as the president’s chief of staff, and immediately brought order and focus to White House operations.
Upon leaving the Clinton administration in 1997, Secretary Panetta joined with his wife Sylvia to establish and co-direct The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay. Reflecting Secretary Panetta’s own ideals and personal example, the nonpartisan, not-for-profit study center seeks to attract thoughtful men and women to lives of public service and prepare them for the policy challenges of the future.
Returning to public service in the Obama administration as director of the CIA, he ran the operation that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, and, as Secretary of Defense, led the effort to develop a new defense strategy, helped bring two wars to an end, and opened up opportunities for everyone to serve in the military.
Secretary Panetta returned to the Panetta Institute as chairman on February 27, 2013 and resumed his role as moderator of the renowned Leon Panetta Lecture Series. He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir Worthy Fights, which was published in 2014.
Ambassador Joseph W. Westphal, ’70, PhD
Ambassador Joseph W. Westphal is the Chang Sun Term Professor at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.
He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Leadership and Change Management at Wharton, Fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration and Non-Resident Fellow at the International Studies Center of the Catholic University of Chile.
Ambassador Westphal has had a long and distinguished career in government and academia.
Dr. Westphal was the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from March 2014 to January 2017.
Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Westphal was the Under Secretary of the Army and its Chief Management Officer from 2009 to 2014. He also held the positions of Assistant Secretary of the Army (Head of the Army Corps of Engineers) from 1998 to 2000 and Acting Secretary of the Army in 2001.
Dr. Westphal began his career in 1975 as a professor of political science at Oklahoma State University and later served as a Department Head. In 2002 he became the Chancellor of the University of Maine System and Professor of Political Science. He also served as Director of the Tishman Environmental Center and Provost at the New School University in New York and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
In government, he worked in both the House and Senate for more than twelve years. In Congress, he worked on Committee staff, as staff director of a large bicameral and bipartisan caucus and on Members personal staff.
He has held positions in the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama, working in the Department of the Interior, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense and the Department of State.
Dr. Westphal has served on numerous Presidential Commissions and Task Forces, Non-Profit and Public Boards and Advisory Panels.
Ambassador Westphal received a B.A. from Adelphi University (1970), an M.A. from Oklahoma State University (1973), and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia (1980).
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