The Hon. Leon Panetta

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Secretary Panetta began his long and distinguished public service career in 1964 as a U.S. Army intelligence officer, receiving the Army Commendation Medal. Upon discharge he went to work in Washington as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senate minority whip Tom Kuchel of California. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976.

Serving his central coast district in Congress for 16 years, Secretary Panetta became a respected leader on agriculture, the federal budget, ocean, and healthcare issues, and from 1989 to 1993 he chaired the House Budget Committee. In 1993, Secretary Panetta left Congress to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton administration. Then, in 1994, he accepted appointment as the president’s chief of staff. After the Clinton administration, Secretary Panetta and his wife Sylvia established and co-directed the nonpartisan, not-for-profit Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Secretary Panetta returned to public service at the start of the Barack Obama administration as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he supervised the operation to find and bring international terrorist Osama bin Laden to justice. Then, as Secretary of Defense, he led efforts to develop a new defense strategy, conduct critical counter terrorism operations, strengthen U.S. alliances, and open military service opportunities to Americans regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

At present, he serves on the boards of directors for Oracle and Blue Shield of California. He serves as co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Defense Personnel Task Force and the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Countering Violent Extremism.