Bachelor in Political Science, magna cum laude, Santa Clara University, California, 1960. Juris Doctor, Santa Clara University School Law, 1963. Doctor (honorary), University Wisconsin, Parkside, 2005.
Doctor (honorary), Northeastern University, 2005.
Legislation assistant to Senator Thomas Kuchel United States Senate, Washington, 1966-1969. Director Office Civil Rights, United States Department Health Education & Welfare (Department of Health), 1969-1970. Executive assistant to Mayor John Lindsay New York City, 1970-1971.
Partner Panetta, Thompson & Panetta, Monterey, California, 1971-1976. Member United States Congress from 17th California District, Washington, 1976—1993, United States House Administration Committee, Washington, 1976—1984. Chairman United States House Budget Committee, 1989—1992.
Director Office Management & Budget, Executive Office of the President, 1993-1994. Chief of staff to President The White House, 1994-1997. Founder, co-director Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute Public Policy, California State University, Monterey Bay, Seaside, California, 1998—2009.
Director Central Intelligence Agency, since 2009. Commissioner, chairman Pew Oceans Commission, 2003—2005. Commissioner, co-chair Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, since 2005.
Member Iraq Study Group, 2006. First lieutenant United States Army, 1964-1966.
(the missing ingredient was leadership of public opinion)
Member national review board United States Conference Catholic Bishops, since 2002. Counsel National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1971—1976. Trustee Junior Statesmen Foundation Inc., since 2005.
Member Monterey County Democratic Central Committee, 1972—1974. Board directors Close Up Foundation, since 1999, National Leadership Roundtable Church Management, 2004—2009, Bread for the World, 2005, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, since 2005, New York Stock Exchange, 1997—2003, Public Policy Institute California, since 2007. Member of California Bar Association.
Married Sylvia Marie Varni, July 14, 1962. Children: Christopher, Carmelo, James.