Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who has held senior military and diplomatic positions under four presidents, will be the keynote speaker at the eighth annual Westmont President’s Breakfast Friday, March 1, from 7-9 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. Tickets to the event went on sale Feb. 1 and sold out in less than three hours.
Powell, a retired four-star general in the U.S. Army, was secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position, and the first and only African-American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell’s most recent New York Times bestselling book, “It Worked for Me,” reveals the lessons that shaped his life and career.
He served as President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser from 1987-1989 and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for both President George H.W. Bush and for President Bill Clinton from 1989-1993. During his time as chairman, he oversaw 28 crises, including the U.S. invasion of Panama (1989) and Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Powell was appointed the 65th secretary of state under President George W. Bush, and he led the state department to solve regional and civil conflicts in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Northern Ireland and Sudan. Powell was widely respected for using diplomacy to build trust, forge alliances and then help transform these unstable regions.
The U.S. military has given Powell many awards and decorations, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Distinguished Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. His civil awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. In addition, more than two dozen countries have honored him with awards, including a French Legion of Honor and an honorary knighthood bestowed by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
Powell founded the Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership and Service at his alma mater, the City College of New York, to develop a new generation of publicly engaged leaders. He founded and is chairman emeritus of America’s Promise Alliance, dedicated to improving the lives of children.
The Westmont Foundation and area businesses sponsor the President’s Breakfast to promote discussion and consideration of current issues among local community leaders. This year’s lead sponsor is Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, now part of Union Bank. Gold sponsors include Axia, Chronicle Family Offices, Davies,Ergomotion, Hub International, La Arcada, Jo and Carl Lindros, Matt Construction, Lindsay and Laurie Parton,Rabobank and V3.
Past Westmont President’s Breakfast keynote speakers include: Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state; Robert Gates, former secretary of defense, Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute and former chairman and CEO of CNN; Thomas Friedman, author of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” and “The World is Flat”; and American historian and bestselling author David McCullough, who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize.