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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Speak at Westmont President’s Breakfast

He will serve as the keynote speaker of the March 2 event; tickets go on sale Feb. 1

Robert Gates, who served as a trusted adviser to eight U.S. presidents of both parties, will be the keynote speaker at the seventh annual Westmont President’s Breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m. Friday, March 2 in the Grand Ballroom of Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.

Robert Gates
Robert Gates

Tickets, which are $125 per person, will go on sale at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, and can be purchased only on the Westmont Web site by clicking here. Seating is limited, and tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets to watch the speaker on a video screen in an adjacent room with a light continental breakfast will be available for $50.

Gates was secretary of defense under two presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and through two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is regarded as one of the most respected leaders in recent U.S. history, driving U.S. intelligence and defense policies over the past 4½ decades from the Cold War to today’s ongoing war on terrorism.

In June, President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gates during his retirement ceremony. This is the nation’s highest civilian award.

As defense secretary, Gates made significant advances in keeping soldiers safe, including replacing vehicles in the field with heavily armored vehicles, which greatly reduced roadside bomb attacks and fatalities. He has three times received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA’s highest award, and is the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director.

Gates’ leadership and guidance earned him the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. Successes include the reshaping of U.S. nuclear weapons policies, the removal of troops from Iraq and the resurgence of troops in Afghanistan, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden.

Earlier in his career, Gates served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and president of Texas A&M University. He has been named the 24th chancellor of the College of William and Mary and will succeed Sandra Day O’Connor when her term ends in February.

Gates, an alumnus of the College of William and Mary, earned a master of arts degree in history from Indiana University and a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. He is the author of the memoir From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, which was published in 1996.

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 & Trust. Gold sponsors include Anodos Group, Axia, Davies Public Affairs, Hub International, Jo and Carl Lindros, MATT Construction, Melchiori Investments, Montecito Institute, Rabobank and V3 Corporation, with special thanks to Northern Trust.

Past Westmont President’s Breakfast keynote speakers include Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state; Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico; Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute and former chairman and CEO of CNN; Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on 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.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.


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