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October 22, 2014

Panetta’s FleishmanHillard Gig ‘Not a Massive Commitment’

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has rejoined the advisory board of global communications giant FleishmanHillard, but the new gig isn’t expected to be terribly taxing.

Panetta left the Pentagon earlier this year and returned home to Monterey, Calif., where he resumed control of his nonprofit Panetta Institute for Public Policy. At the time, he said he was looking forward to spending time with the family, hanging out at the Panetta walnut farm, etc.

Then the news broke last week that Panetta would be also serving on FleishmanHillard’s International Advisory Board, where he served previously. Panetta lauded the place, saying, “I know the quality of its people, the excellence of its services and its top-notch ethical standards.”

So will one of America’s busiest, but recently retired, public servants start getting stretched thin?

Not to worry. Martha M. Boudreau, regional president at FleishmanHillard for the mid-Atlantic and Latin America, said Panetta’s return to the board will not take away from his other responsibilities.

“This is not a massive commitment of his time,” she said in an interview. “As you would expect, he is completely devoted to the Panetta Institute and his work there.”

The former Defense secretary’s track record with the CIA and Office of Management and Budget, as Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff and as a former member of Congress gives him remarkable perspective in providing high-level counsel to FleishmanHillard’s folks.

“Of course everybody thinks of Leon purely in terms of his defense credentials, which certainly are the most current,” Boudreau added.

“We have a variety of clients in that area, but that is not the reason that we asked Leon to rejoin our board,” she said. “We’re interested in his global perspective.”

FleishmanHillard is the firm behind “That Guy,” a Department of Defense campaign that discourages excessive drinking among young servicemen. The campaign website uses animations, including a virtual carnival game, to admonish junior personnel against excess drinking and the pursuant consequences, including fighting, vomiting and initiating unsolicited sexual advances.

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