Sylvia M. Varni

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Sylvia Panetta "is the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Managing Director of the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy... Sylvia Panetta has also served as an advisor to the Chancellor of California State University since March 1997.

"In December 1995, Mrs. Panetta was appointed Deputy Director for Staff and Finance at the President’s Crime Prevention Council in Washington, DC. This agency was responsible for coordinating federal programs related to youth development and prevention programs. In late 1996 and early 1997, she co-directed the “VIP” section for the 1996 Presidential Inaugural. From 1977 to 1993, she administered five Congressional district offices in the 16th Congressional District as a volunteer for her husband, Leon Panetta, who represented that area for 16 years. She directed each of his re-election campaigns from 1980-1992.

"She actively supports the Sylvia Panetta Scholarship Fund, a grant program established in her name in 1990 at Monterey Peninsula College that assists students with financial need in their second year and to continue their education at a four-year educational institution. She is a past board member of the National Steinbeck Center where she served as the Vice President for Education and the Education Committee. She is also a past board member of the Community Foundation for Monterey County and served on the board of directors for the University of California, Santa Cruz Foundation.

"Mrs. Panetta’s community involvement has extended to many non-profit organizations with an interest in public education. Her interest in public education spans back to the mid 1960s when her children attended public schools in Washington, DC, New York City and later the Monterey Peninsula. She served on parent advisory committees including ESEA Title I and early childhood education programs. Mrs. Panetta also was the founding executive director of the Foundation to Support the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, a non-profit organization designed to promote and provide grants to programs serving children within that district.

"In addition to public education, Mrs. Panetta has a particular interest in health care and youth development issues. In past years, she has served as honorary chair for numerous fundraising campaigns for the Hospice of the Central Coast, the Visiting Nurses Associations of Santa Cruz County and the Central Coast, the March of Dimes of the Monterey Peninsula and the Boy Scouts of America, Monterey Peninsula. Mrs. Panetta also has taught courses in childbirth and home health care for the American Red Cross.

"In recognition of her local community efforts, she received the Community Service of the Year award from the Central Coast Counties Democratic Club in 1990 and the Woman of the Year award from the Monterey/Pacific Grove Quota Club in 1994. In 1999, Soroptomists International of the Americas honored Mrs. Panetta for her work in the field of human rights status for women. In 1999, she was also honored by Community Partnership for Youth with the award, Those Who Honor Youth. The Monterey County Reading Association presented the Distinguished Service award to Mrs. Panetta in 2000 for her leadership in literacy in Central California. In January 2001, she received the Public Official of the Year award from the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. She was honored as an Outstanding Woman for 2001 by the Monterey County Commission on the Status of Women. In April 2001, she was given a Resolution of Commendation from the Monterey County Office of Education for her work in public education. That same year, she also received a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Dominican University, San Rafael. In May 2002, the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma presented the Theta Omicrom Service award to Mrs. Panetta. In December of 2002, The National Steinbeck Center honored Mrs. Panetta with the Trustee of the Year award. In April of 2003 she received the CSUMB Fellows award for community and public service. The National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution presented Mrs. Panetta with a Community Service Award in April of 2004. In May of 2004, she received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Chi State Chapter. In June 2005, Mrs. Panetta was honored as the recipient of the inaugural National Steinbeck Center Valley of the World Education Award." [1]

Resources and articles


  1. Leon E. Panetta, Panetta Institute, accessed July 23, 2007.