Panetta Named Int'l Executive of the Year

PROVO, Utah – Sep 21, 2017 – The Marriott School of Business and Brigham Young University honored former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta with the 2017 International Executive of the Year award. Established by BYU Marriott forty years ago, the award commends executives who display remarkable leadership and high moral and ethical standards.

A near-fifty-year career in public service distinguishes Panetta as a recipient of the award, which honors executives in business, government, and nonprofit. BYU Academic Vice President James R. Rasband presented Panetta with the honor at the IEY banquet on 15 September as part of BYU Marriott’s National Advisory Council annual conference in Provo.

“Whether you’re in business or whether you’re in public policy, I think the reality is we all need to provide leadership in trying to make our democracy better for our children and for the future,” Panetta said. “The ability to help provide that leadership and to have that leadership recognized by a distinguished school of business is, for me, a great honor.”

Richard E. Marriott, Host Hotels & Resorts chairman of the board, paid tribute to Panetta at the celebration. “Leon Panetta is a patriot,” Marriott remarked. “He has shown that even in turbulent times, an intelligent leader with good character who works hard can do the impossible.”

Panetta was unanimously confirmed as the director of the CIA in 2009, where he successfully led the operation that brought Osama Bin Laden to justice. Panetta then served as Secretary of Defense under President Barack Obama from 2011-2013.

He now devotes his time to The Panetta Institute for Public Policy—a nonpartisan, nonprofit study center he established with his wife Sylvia in 1997. The institute aims to inspire young Americans to engage in public service and helps them hone their leadership skills through the democratic process.

Prior to the IEY banquet, Panetta met with and delivered a lecture to BYU Marriott students, encouraging them to actively fulfill their civic duty as future American leaders. He shared a verse from the Book of Isaiah he had noticed on a plaque in Afghanistan at the site of a suicide bombing, which states:

          “‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?

          And then I said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me.”

“'Send me’ is the sound of the trumpet that basically calls all of us to duty in this country, that calls all of us to the fight to provide the leadership necessary in order to make sure we have a better life for our children,” Panetta explained, “And in order to make sure we have a government of, by, and for all people.”

Prior to his career in politics, Panetta served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and received the Army Commendation Medal. He was elected to Congress in 1976 and served for sixteen years as a U.S. Representative from California. In 1993, Panetta was sworn in as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and was later appointed as President Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff.

“I have had the privilege of living the American Dream,” said Panetta, whose parents immigrated to America from Italy. “The American Dream, however, doesn’t just happen. And my parents made it clear that if you really want to achieve your dream, you’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice, you have to be willing to take risks, you have to be willing to fight and to not stop fighting until you’ve embraced that dream.”

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta received the International Executive of the Year award at a celebratory banquet.
IEY recipient Leon Panetta met with and spoke to BYU Marriott students.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Afton Izu