Public Policy Faculty | Pepperdine University School of Public Policy

Meet the Faculty

School of Public Policy Faculty

Photo of Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson
Dean, School of Public Policy; Senior Fellow, Davenport Institute

Office: School of Public Policy (SPP) 260
Phone: (310) 506-8054
Fax: (310) 506-7494

  • M.P.P., Pepperdine University
  • B.A., History, George Washington University

Pete Peterson is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent. He was the first executive director of the bi-partisan organization, Common Sense California, which in 2010 joined with the Davenport Institute at the School of Public Policy to become the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. In 2008, he developed the organization's annual Public Engagement Grant Program, which has provided over $400,000.00 in grants over the last several years to dozens of municipal governments across California. Peterson has also consulted on several of these projects with local governments, and has directly facilitated public meetings.

Peterson has co-created and currently co-facilitates the training seminar, "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times" a program that has been attended by over 1,000 municipal officials, and he also co-created and co-facilitates the seminar, "Gov 2.0: What Public Officials Need to Know." Peterson created, and is the executive editor of the Institute's two main blogs: "inCommon", and "Gov2.0Watch".

Peterson writes widely on public engagement for a variety major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as numerous blogs. He has also helped write several survey-based reports on the subject, including "Testing the Waters: California's Local Officials Experiment with New Ways to Engage the Public" (in collaboration with the League of California Cities), and the "California Civic Health Index" (in collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship). He contributed the chapter, "Place As Pragmatic Policy" to the edited volume, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America (New Atlantis Books, 2014).

Pete has been a public affairs fellow at The Hoover Institution, and he serves on the Leadership Councils of the Public Policy Institute of California and California Forward, and on the steering committees of the University Network for Collaborative Governance, and the Institute for Local Government.

Peterson was the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.

2015-Present Panels/Presentations:

Panelist, "Local Engagement and Connecting with our Citizenry"/ "Our Voices: Advancing Civic Engagement in California" - Sacramento State University (Sacramento/October 7)

Moderator, "From Kissing Babies to Liking Posts: How Social Media Has Changed the American Campaign"/ "Election 2.016 Conference" - Pepperdine School of Public Policy (Malibu/October 14)

Moderator, Malibu City Council Debate/ Hosted by Malibu Rotary - Pepperdine University (Malibu/October 19)

Moderator, "Beyond Prop 30: Is Comprehensive Tax Reform Key to California's Future?"/ "Milken Institute's California Summit" (Los Angeles/ October 25)

Moderator, "Ballotcon: Debates on California's 2016 Ballot Initiatives"/ Hosted by SeePolitical (Los Angeles/October 29)

Panelist: "Building Relationships in Public Spaces"/American Citizens Summit (Aug 2016) Listen

Testimony: "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill"/California Assembly Select Committee on Civic Engagement (Los Angeles, CA/May 12)

Presenter: "Does the Public Sector Support Public Engagement?"/"By the People" Conference - Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ/December 4)

Presenter: "21st Century Public Square"/Keynote. Association of California Cities-Orange County's Annual Dinner (Costa Mesa, CA/September 10)

Presenter/Panelist: "Money, Jobs & You: A Bipartisan Conversation." Hosted by California Forward (San Jose/August 19, Clovis/September 29)

Presenter: "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill"/Keynote. 2015 Florida League of Cities Conference (Orlando, FL/August 14)

Panelist/Judge: 2015 Innovation in Government Awards. Hosted by Harvard/JFK School of Government's Ash Center (Cambridge, MA/May 19-20)

Panelist: Big Money Politics after Citizens United: Keeping Voters Engaged in Democracy." Hosted by UC-Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy (Berkeley, CA/April 18)

Panelist: "The Future of California's Republican Party." Hosted by Southern California Public Radio (Rancho Mirage, CA/March 2)

Presenter: "Civic Engagement: The Policy and the Politics." Keynote presented at Florida Civic Advance Summit (Orlando, FL/February 22)

Panelist: "Reinventing the Public Square" panel in "The Future of Technology & Democracy." Hosted by the Federal Elections Commission and UC Hastings College of Law (San Francisco/February 19)

Presenter: "A 'Revolution' in Public Policy. . . And Politics." Hosted by American Enterprise Institute's Pepperdine University Chapter Annual Leadership Dinner (Pepperdine)

  • MPP 687 Seminar in Regional Policies: Leadership through Public Engagement
Academic Interests:
  • California Policy Issues
  • Civic Participation
  • Private/Civic/Public Sector Relationships
  • Technology in Government
Selected Works:
  • "Where Bernie-nomics Goes to Die." RealClear Policy, November 22, 2016.
  • "An Inverse Prop 8 for California?" RealClear Policy, October 18, 2016.
  • "The Greatest Public Leadership Transition in American History" Real Clear Policy, July 1, 2016.
  • "Trump, Sanders, and the Populist Anti-Policy Surge" Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2016.
  • "DMV: Department of Motor . . . Voting?" Fox and Hounds Daily (blog), September 24, 2015.

  • "The Alinsky Way of Governing". Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2015.

  • "Top-Two Fracturing" City Journal California (blog), February 27, 2015.
  • "A Party for Citizens and Customers" Fox and Hounds Daily (blog), February 2, 2015.
  • "Republicans Need Their Own Rhetoric of Reliance" Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2015.