Co-Director, Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy
Leon Panetta is the co-director of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy,
based at California State University, Monterey Bay - a university he helped establish on the
site of the former military base, Fort Ord. The Institute serves as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3)
study center for the advancement of bi-partisan public policy. In addition, he serves as
Distinguished Scholar to the Chancellor of the California State University system, advising
the Chancellor on national issues affecting higher education. In 1997, he was appointed
Presidential Professor at Santa Clara University.
Panetta was a U.S. Representative from California's 16th (now 17th) district from
1977 to 1993. As a House member, he was a key participant in the 1990 budget summit
as well as every other summit during the 1980s. He left Congress in 1993, at the
beginning of his ninth term, to become Director of the Office of Management and
Budget for the incoming Clinton administration. In that position, he was instrumental
in developing the 1993 budget package that is widely credited with a balanced federal
budget and a budget surplus.
Panetta was appointed Chief of Staff to President Clinton on July 17, 1994,
and served in that position until January 20, 1997.
Panetta has served as a leader in numerous community and public policy organizations
throughout his career, ranging from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group established in 2006
to Chairman of the Pew Oceans Commission. He lectures nationally and internationally
on the state of the economy, the federal budget and other issues facing our nation. His
numerous awards and honors include, among others, the NEA Lincoln Award, the Peter Burnett
Award for Distinguished Public Service, the John H. Chafee Coastal Stewardship Award, the
Aquarium of the Pacific Ocean Conservation Award, 2006, and the Lifetime Achievement Award
for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
He is married to the former Sylvia Marie Varni, who administered his district offices
during his service in Congress and continues as a partner in his many activities. They
have three grown sons and five grandchildren.