Skip to main content

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to Receive Award Jan. 18

Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will receive the Frank and Bethine Church Award for Public Service on Jan. 18 at a dinner honoring him in the Boise State University Stueckle Sky Center.

The event is in conjunction with the 32nd annual Frank Church Conference, “Clash of Cultures: The Middle East in Turmoil.” The conference is scheduled for Jan. 15 in the Student Union Simplot Ballroom. Speakers include Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former under secretary of state and ambassador to six countries.

“Secretary Panetta has had a long and distinguished career in public service that began in Congress when Frank Church was Senator,” said Garry Wenske, executive director of the Frank Church Institute. “He represents the best tradition of leadership to the nation and the legacies of Frank and Bethine Church.”

The Jan. 15 conference is free and open to the public, but reservations will be required for the Jan. 18 dinner. More information on how to reserve a seat will soon be available at, or call (208) 426-2941.

In addition to his cabinet positions, Panetta served as a U.S. representative from California for nine terms and as White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. Upon leaving the Clinton administration in 1997, Panetta and his wife established the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Reflecting 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. In addition, Panetta developed programs for the institute, such as its Leon Panetta Lecture Series, Congressional Internship Program and the Leadership Seminar, which all help to inform Americans about the critical issues facing our communities, states and nation in the 21st century. Institute programs also aim to inspire a deeper engagement in the democratic process while simultaneously setting a public example of service and commitment.

Returning to public service in the Obama administration as director of the CIA, Panetta ran the operation that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, and as secretary of defense led the effort to develop a new defense strategy, conduct critical counter terrorism operations, strengthen U.S. alliances and open up opportunities for everyone to serve in the military. He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir “Worthy Fights,” which was published by Penguin Press in fall 2014.

Panetta currently serves as co-director of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy with his wife, Sylvia.