Leon E. Panetta
Former Co-Chair; Fmr. Secretary of Defense and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Leon E. Panetta was selected by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency under the new administration. Mr. Panetta's resignation as co-chair of California Forward was effective upon his confirmation by the United States Senate on February 12, 2009. He is the founder and institute director of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a not-for-profit center for the non-partisan advancement of public policy seeking to attract thoughtful men and women to lives of public service.
Mr. Panetta previously was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. He also was director of the Office of Management and Budget, where he was instrumental in developing the 1993 budget package that is widely credited with achieving a balanced federal budget and eventual budget surpluses. While serving as a U.S. Representative from California's 16th (now 17th) district, Mr. Panetta chaired the House Committee on the Budget; the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing, Consumer Relations and Nutrition; the House Administration Committee's Subcommittee on Personnel and Police; and the Select Committee on Hunger's Task Force on Domestic Hunger.
Mr. Panetta also serves as a distinguished scholar to the chancellor of the California State University system and is a member of the Independent Task Force on Immigration and America's Future. Previously, he served on the Iraq Study Group and was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to co-chair the Council on Base Support and Retention. He also was a member of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange, chairman of the Committee for Review for the New York Stock Exchange Board of Directors, and was co-chair of the Corporate Governance and Listing Standards Committee for the Stock Exchange. He was chair of the Pew Oceans Commission and is currently co-chair of the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative.
Earlier in his career, he served as a First Lieutenant in the Army from 1964 to 1966 and received the Commendation Medal. He was special assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, and practiced law in the Monterey firm of Panetta, Thompson & Panetta.
Mr. Panetta holds a law degree from Santa Clara University Law School and a bachelor's degree from Santa Clara University. He and his wife, Sylvia, have three grown sons and five grandchildren.