I’ve just had the privilege to spend three days with our cohort of Jackson Leadership Fellows as they attended meetings in Washington, DC, as part of the culmination of their program. What an experience! As Board President John Hempelmann and Board member Susan Wickwire, who accompanied the group, agreed, this was a much-needed antidote to the political blues and skepticism that have infected many of us in this gridlocked and polarized time. The optimism, engagement, and commitment of this extraordinary cadre of young leaders – from 26 – 40 years old – provide a reason to embrace the future of our communities and our nation with a degree of hope.
The Fellows, who have been meeting monthly and receiving professional guidance and leadership training from an array of experts here in the Northwest, went to Washington to showcase their talents, introduce the program to other young people – in this case a packed room full of Washington DC interns – and meet the Washington Congressional Delegation, among other meetings.
The jam-packed agenda included a private discussion with four Members of the House of Representatives from Washington State, who candidly shared their thoughts of current political developments with the Fellows and took their questions, and both of Washington’s powerful senators, who took the time to get to know our Fellows and the work they are doing back here in Puget Sound.
The Fellows were also exposed to two panels featuring long-time public servants discussing their work in Washington, DC, their ability to work across changing political administrations, and their reasons for choosing public service as a career.
Along the lines of discussing public service, one of the highlights of the trip was a half-day at the Wilson Center which featured two different dialogues about the challenge of careers in government and public service that shone a spotlight on the Fellows and the insights that they shared.
Overall the trip was a substantive way to bring the 2017 Fellows Program to a close — and a wonderful way for us to bond with our extraordinary young ambassadors for the Jackson legacy.
As part of our commitment to the Jackson Leadership Fellows program, we remain engaged with the alumni of the program and we intend to keep up that engagement in the years ahead. All of our Fellows — past and present — are in a particularly vibrant moment of their careers. They are changing jobs, they are trying new directions, they are getting promoted, and they are seeking new challenges and ways to make an impact in our communities. As part of a continuing series of guest blogs, we asked Tamara Power-Drutis, a 2016 Fellow, if she could reflect on her own recent journey from Executive Director at Crosscut Public Media to her new position as Chief of Staff at Amplifier. We’re excited to learn from Tamara what she has taken from the Fellowship year that helps her in this challenging new job. She shares her personal reflections on this career shift below.
After being immersed in grassroots organizing for most of my life, several years ago I took a step away to approach change from a different angle. While activism gave me a sense of community and connection to like-minded individuals, it was the different-minded individuals I lacked a connection to.
I rarely saw the peace and justice movement cross ideological or political lines to engage in dialogue. That meant that when we did cross lines, the discussions often devolved into regurgitation of party lines and lofty platitudes rather than an open consideration of a different point of view. Difference of opinion was something to fear or fix rather than an opportunity to build a more informed solution. For my part, I became aware that I lacked the fundamental skills to engage in civil dialogue, and set out to have what became some of the most uncomfortable and necessary conversations of my life.
While serving as the Executive Director of Crosscut Public Media — a Seattle nonprofit newsroom that aims to inform a public capable of solving the challenges of our time — I gained access to countless perspectives different from my own. They challenged my world-view, forced me to question my assumptions, and ultimately improved any solutions I became a part of. It was through this role that I became an inaugural Henry M. Jackson Foundation Fellow, an opportunity that continues to have a profoundly positive impact on my life.
Beyond providing tangible tools and strategies to engage in dialogue and enact change, this fellowship connected me to a deeply-rooted network of leaders across sectors that I will collaborate with for the rest of my career. After the 2016 election, it was this cohort that I turned to for processing, problem-solving, and hope.
Like countless others, when I woke up on November 9, 2016, the path laid before my feet had shifted overnight. The system was finally changing. But rather than a shift toward equity, livable wages, reparations, or aggressive climate security, this shift was a plausible prologue to every dystopian novel I’ve read.
Resistance was, and remains, necessary. But I worried that traditional activism wasn’t open or pragmatic enough to pave the way. Luckily for me, quite a few people were ahead of me on the road to reinventing it. It didn’t take long for the skepticism to be wiped from my face when I showed up to the Women’s March in Seattle. This was something new. This was a movement with open doors.
The way I found myself working at Amplifier — an experiment that provides visual tools to help movements reach beyond their core audiences to engage the broader mainstream — is the same story I’ve heard echoed from others on the team: I felt drawn in, as though a magnet were pulling me. While messages of bigotry and hate were being shouted from the highest office in our land, around every corner I saw images of hope. They called for us to be greater than fear, to defend dignity, to protect each other and be resilient and indivisible. I didn’t know the people behind this barrage of positive propaganda, but I carried them with me as I marched through the streets once again, and shortly thereafter signed on as their Chief of Staff.
I’m grateful to have an excuse to spend my days with a team attempting to reshape the American narrative and to refill the reserve of ideas and inspiration that fuel action. Every day at Amplifier I have opportunities to apply the skills, methods, and perspective I gained at Crosscut and as a Jackson Fellow.
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation is currently accepting applications for its third cohort, all of whom I look forward to partnering with in the coming years. While the program only accepts a handful of fellows each year, the Foundation continues to expand its programming and trainings to enable the kind of inquisitive, open, and honest conversations that are so necessary today.
We’re very pleased to highlight a guest blog today from Nora Ferm Nickum, a 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow, about her project this year. Her work emphasizes the importance of climate action in the Pacific Northwest and what businesses can do to seize the initiative. -Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director
Climate change is a massive challenge that requires public policy answers at all levels of government, but also widespread action by the private sector and within our communities. For my Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellow project, I sought to learn about how businesses here in the Seattle area are helping to tackle this challenge. I interviewed ten businesses across a range of industries, from retail and recreation to construction and health care. Throughout, there was a common thread that climate change action is not only a necessity, but also an opportunity. Steps that reduce emissions can save costs, attract customers, and demonstrate leadership.
I heard stories from businesses that are leading change in their industries. For example, Fremont Brewing pilot-tested a biodigester that turns its spent grain into methane and then electricity. There are systems like that available for very large established breweries, but not small ones. Fremont’s goal is to show that it is feasible—and that there is demand—so that manufacturers will recognize the market opportunity and create systems that can work for smaller breweries.
Meanwhile, Sellen Construction worked with a local concrete supplier to figure out the carbon content of more than 80 types of concrete, so that they could choose lower-carbon options in their projects. They made this information freely available so that other companies can also make informed choices and lower their impact.
Virginia Mason learned that the use of just one kind of inhaled anesthesia—desflurane gas—was alone responsible for nearly 5% of the hospital system’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Using desflurane for one hour of surgery has been estimated to have the same climate change impact as driving a car for as much as 470 miles. The anesthesiology team determined last year that outside of a few neurological cases, alternatives could be used that cost the same, provided the same benefits for patients, and had a lower environmental impact. Now, this kind of anesthesia is used 90% less often at Virginia Mason than it was before.
Additional stories—about innovative steps being taken by companies like Boeing, NBBJ, and Microsoft—can be found in the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Bright Green in an Emerald City report released last fall.
Senator Jackson was a pragmatist and a problem-solver. He cared about the environment—he played a leading role in the conservation and energy legislation in the 1960s and 1970s—and he also sought to promote economic development in our state. He recognized that those goals need not be contradictory. Washington businesses can learn from his vision and legacy, and from the actions being taken by businesses—like those highlighted here—who recognize that there is a business case for climate change action, and plenty of room for innovation to expand the solution set. I appreciate having had the opportunity through this leadership fellowship to explore this issue more deeply.
Nora Ferm Nickum is a 2017 Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellow and a Senior Associate at Cascadia Consulting Group.
Life in a nonprofit can be challenging. Resources are usually stretched thin and the work is generally more than people can handle in a normal working day. People who devote themselves to the nonprofit sector have to believe that the work they are doing matters – to themselves, their colleagues, the community, and to the other nonprofits with whom they work.
Such is the case at our Foundation with its small staff. And no one has exemplified that dedication to the greater good more than our office and finance manager, Jelena Jurkovic, who retires this month after 18 years of service to the Jackson legacy. Jelena is one of those unsung heroes who make organizations work well. When sifting through photos in advance of honoring her, I couldn’t help but be struck by how few photos there were of her – instead, others are at the podium, giving the talks, leading the crowd. Yet Jelena’s quiet and critical role resulted in full lecture halls; well-prepped and organized board meetings; and thoughtful, accurate briefing materials. While this does not always make for headlines or glory, in the nearly two decades that I have worked with Jelena, her spirit, warmth, dedication to mission, commitment to her colleagues, and professionalism have meant the world to all of us. When I sent out emails to former colleagues about Jelena’s decision to retire, responses were quick and heartfelt. Board members have been equally effusive about Jelena and the role that she has played here at the Foundation. While we will hire other staff, her shoes will be hard to fill.
At a farewell event for Jelena last night, Anna Marie Laurence, Board member and daughter of Senator Jackson, praised Jelena and said, “My father liked to say, ‘Whatever you do in life, always do it with excellence.’ This is what Jelena did.” Board member Joel Merkel expressed that he was honored to call Jelena a friend and emphasized, as did other speakers, the genuine and heartfelt nature of Jelena’s relationships with others. He concluded, “Thank you, Jelena, for your friendship and your service to the Jackson Foundation. We will miss your daily presence but we will never forget you and we all hope to maintain the relationship.”
When you work together, day after day, you come to be a family. Such it has been, to our great good fortune, to work together with Jelena at the Jackson Foundation. With Jelena’s retirement to sunnier climes and the pull of her loved ones, we lose an essential part of our extended Jackson Foundation family. As Foundation President John Hempelmann said last night, “while we will miss her, whenever we think of Jelena, we will smile.”
We wish Jelena the best of luck in her retirement and we will retain fond memories of our many laughs and shared concerns over the years together.
Lukas Haynes, Executive Director of The David Rockefeller Fund, recently spent two days in Seattle at the Jackson Foundation’s invitation to speak to the community about climate security – the intersection of climate concerns with national security. This issue, which the Jackson Foundation has been working on for several years, has gained national attention due to climate-related conflicts and international events like the Syrian civil war and the desperate water shortage in Yemen. The David Rockefeller Fund and the Jackson Foundation share a mission to place climate security on the agenda of policymakers as well as other philanthropic partners. Lukas Haynes generously gave his time to this cause in a packed visit here. We featured him at a private breakfast with both classes of our Jackson Leadership Fellows, at a learning lunch for our Board of Governors, with graduate students at the University of Washington, and before a capacity crowd in partnership with the World Affairs Council.
The Jackson Leadership Fellows, many of whom feel passionately about climate policy, were interested to hear about Lukas’ journey toward his focus on climate security. With a background in international relations and experience on Madeleine Albright’s speechwriting team on the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, Lukas made the connection early on between national security and climate change and its impact on people and nations. He has long advocated using the military’s voice to gain the attention of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, a strategy that the Jackson Foundation also utilizes. “This is THE key bipartisan issue,” he said. Lukas urged the Jackson Fellows to step forward on these issues as well as others they are committed to, “Don’t wait for your seat at the table; we need your leadership now.”
To a broader audience assembled for a panel discussion on climate security, the Foundation and the World Affairs Council highlighted the consequences for our nation and the world of the issue. Craig Gannett, Foundation Vice President, moderated a panel that included Lukas Haynes, Vice Admiral (ret.) Robert Parker, United States Coast Guard, and scientist Ian Kraucunas of Pacific Northwest National Labs. Craig asked the panel to address how connecting the dots between climate and national security has the potential to impact the arc of this debate, bring in a new audience, and help shape policy. Lukas emphasized that “the more one spends time learning about the implications of a changing climate on national and homeland security, the more urgent it becomes to develop appropriate policy at a local, state, and national level – both near term and over the horizon.” Admiral Parker agreed, noting that there was substantial research and science that has been compiled both in the civil sector and in the military as to the climate security nexus, but “the work done regarding climate change and its impact within military intelligence has not been shared and disseminated well because of the politicization of this area.”
The politics of climate and climate security were an ever-present backdrop to the two days of discussion. Craig Gannett voiced guarded optimism that movement at the “sub-national” level – such as the Pacific Coast Collaborative efforts by Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia to unify and play a leading role despite happenings at the federal level – provides some hope to move us forward. Admiral Parker added that despite whatever obstacles to progress exist, “the awakening of citizens is a silver-plated lining. We have an obligation as citizens to learn.”
The Jackson Foundation emerged from two days of intensive discussions on this issue reenergized and dedicated to continue to target its resources to highlight climate and national security connections – a topic squarely within the Jackson environmental and defense legacies.
The inaugural lecture last week in honor of Jim Schlesinger was a success. First we had John Deutch, MIT emeritus Institute Professor and former head of the CIA, speak at a Rainier Club lunch that drew diplomats, business people, and community leaders. In the afternoon he met with students at the Jackson School. And in the evening he gave an excellent, engaging lecture on nuclear deterrent policy and how that policy may or may not change going forward. We had 150 chairs filled with a line out the door for entry into the hall. The large audience included UW students, Navy ROTC members, as well as community members.
Professor Deutch also spoke about his relationship with both Jackson and Schlesinger. When Schlesinger became America’s first Secretary of Energy, Deutch served as Undersecretary of the Department.
The following day, Dr. Deutch worked with Jackson School students on their Task Force policy brief on nuclear proliferation and deterrence. It was a first-rate way to begin this important series, which we intend to continue to tie with the Jackson School’s Task Force program.
Board Member Larry Phillips wrote afterward, “John Deutch did a masterful job providing the historical context and ongoing debate, as well as the progress that has been made surrounding nuclear proliferation issues. He sounded the alarm about the costs associated with upgrades to our nuclear triad deterrent, and the lack of robust debate so far and the need for that to occur before those funds are expended. At the end he fielded questions from some pretty well-informed audience members, and did a good job providing substantive answers. The “refresher” on these issues was welcome and enlightening, especially so given the dearth of substantive discourse at the national level. It was a bit of a walk back in time, when serious issues were discussed, debated, and decided by serious people.”
The Jackson Foundation initiated this lecture series to honor Senator Jackson’s longtime friend and colleague Jim Schlesinger by bringing high-level foreign policy experts to the Jackson School. Given his personal history with Jackson and Schlesinger, Professor Deutch was the perfect choice to start off this series.
In recognition of Larry Phillips’ leadership on growth management, natural resource protection, water quality, transportation, and climate change, the Foundation created the Jackson Leadership Fellows – Larry Phillips Fund for Climate Change and the Environment. The fund supports Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellows with an interest in fostering bipartisan solutions in the fields of climate change and the environment, reflecting issues of significance that defined Larry Phillip’s career in public service. We’re pleased that we can further support the goals and objectives of the Jackson Fellows through this fund tied to climate and the environment.
Last year we awarded funds to two of our Jackson Leadership Fellows, Laura Stewart and Tamara Power-Drutis. As part of her project, Laura developed a video that captured the issues and interests of under-represented voices in Seattle’s climate and environmental justice sector. Building on the video’s success, Tamara (Crosscut Media) and Laura will use the funds to broaden the video’s audience utilizing Crosscut Media’s 1.2 million readers, KCTS 9 broadcasting, and ethnic media partners in a series of follow-up interviews and articles.
This year we’ll provide funds to three of our 2017 Fellows – Alex Adams, Connor Birkeland, and Amarpreet Sethi. Alex received $500 to attend the Green Transportation Summit and Expo (GTSE), which is the region’s premier fleet modernization and alternative fuels event. This conference’s focus on alternative fuels and wide variety of vehicle types will help expand his knowledge and understanding of the quickly changing electric vehicle and fuel markets in the Pacific Northwest. From attending last year’s conference, he was able to develop an alternative fuel calculator to show emissions resulting from fuel choices, which led King County Metro Transit to transition to 5% locally sourced biodiesel.
A $500 award to Connor will support his travel to California to learn about clean energy financing models tied to property there and apply them in Washington State. His Jackson Leadership Fellows’ project focuses on Property Assessed Clean Energy as a financing model for low- to medium-income individuals. Currently Washington State lacks renewable-energy financing programs for those with lower incomes, despite the fact that installing residential renewable energy systems would allow for less-costly energy bills.
Amarpreet received $500 to attend a conference organized by the German Chamber of Commerce that relates to her project, which looks at buildings that are developed with the health and well-being of their occupants in mind. Amarpreet is researching European examples and will showcase practical ways to develop top-performing buildings in the U.S. that meet a higher standard of health and well-being for the users. The purpose of the research is to inspire developers to think differently, to begin setting higher goals and values for energy performance, and to consider the impact the building has on the user’s health.
Our Fellows are making connections in their communities, in other states and regions, and even internationally to help them do their work — and improve our society. The Fellows program is designed to support them — through mentorship, networking, training, and by providing additional opportunities to dig into their areas of interest. We believe that the Jackson/Phillips Fund is one important way of enhancing the Fellows’ experience. Learn more about the Jackson Fellows and the Jackson Fellows/Phillips Fund.
I recently had an opportunity to participate in a one-day symposium put on by The Center for Climate and Security, The San Diego Foundation, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. The goal of the session was to raise awareness and build a community of practice around climate security issues as they affect the West Coast, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific. This was interesting for me as the Foundation has convened similar gatherings of experts and public officials here in Puget Sound, which shares with San Diego a strong military presence, an awareness of the closeness of Asia, and an enduring commitment to the environment and climate. The Jackson Foundation has been working to highlight the voices of our nation’s military – which recognizes that its mission is threatened by a climate changed future – in the ongoing discussions at the political level about climate risks regionally and globally.
This forum also featured high-profile military experts such as General Ron Keys (USAF-Ret) , Rear Admiral Yancy B. Lindsey (Commander, Navy Region Southwest), Rear Admiral Leendert Hering Sr. (USN-Ret) and others who spoke to the importance of managing climate change risk for U.S. national security. “We are mission driven,” in General Keys words. “The military needs to respond to the known and likely risks we face.” The climate concerns have a tremendous capacity to impact our nation’s national security, from contributing to sea level rise at U.S. military installations, to threatening food and water security at home and abroad, to displacing populations in harm’s way from extreme climate events.
In a panel that I moderated, we were joined by Congressman Scott Peters, U.S. House of Representatives 52nd Congressional District, who emphasized that he believes that concern for climate is a bipartisan issue and should be one where consensus can be reached for the good of the nation. He also underlined the impact on his own district of climate issues happening now as well as in the years ahead. “For San Diego, climate issues are real and are impacting us today. We can’t afford to be complacent,” Congressman Peters said. He is working closely with regional leaders, including Kevin Faulconer, the Mayor of San Diego, who opened the forum.
The value of sessions such as these – be they in San Diego, Washington, DC or Seattle – is that they have the power and leverage to inform a broad audience of political leaders, community nonprofits, government agencies and military personnel on the need to address strategic climate risks at a regional as well as a national level. They also get at the very real challenges facing the U.S. military at our Pacific-facing military installations and communities up and down the West Coast.
The Jackson Foundation plans to continue these discussions in order to highlight climate and national security ties with an eye to helping shape federal, regional and local responses to climate risk and resilience opportunities in the decade ahead. Senator Jackson was prescient in his time in foreseeing security challenges to the U.S. that encompassed energy and environmental concerns. This work continues squarely in that vein, in that it represents the best of the Jackson tradition of being in the vanguard on critical environmental and national security policy.
We recently had a productive Annual Board meeting of the Foundation’s Board of Governors. We took the opportunity to reflect on the year’s achievements as well as the challenges before us.
The values Senator Jackson stood for and cherished throughout his career underlie the entirety of the Foundation’s work. These ideas have been woven into the fabric of our daily efforts – into decision making around our large strategic initiatives, choosing local organizations as partners for our smaller program grants, supporting students through academic fellowships at the University of Washington, and training the young professionals who serve as our Jackson Leadership Fellows.
While Senator Jackson’s core values still hold true today, in some corners they seem wholly forgotten. The lack of trust in facts, as well as in government and civic institutions pervades many people’s thinking. Yet at the Foundation, we continue to shine a light on Senator Jackson’s important and fundamental ideas.
All of the nonprofits with whom we work are reassessing their strategies, goals, impacts and focus in light of the November election. Our conversation at the Annual Board meeting reminded us about what we believe to be urgent and important, as well as identified questions that might warrant more in-depth discussion later.
As always, we face some challenges when measuring the impact of our work. In philanthropy, impact is always difficult to quantify and attribute, partly because of its frequent role as a marginal player in a large game. The ultimate goal of philanthropy is leverage – the exercise of power indirectly through investment but also influence.
We believe that we have found leverage points in our work on climate and national security, in promoting democratic values and human rights in Russia, in supporting the Jackson School of International Studies and the development of a new generation of foreign policy scholars, and, finally, in our Jackson Leadership Fellows program, which actively promotes civil dialogue in the model of Senator Jackson. Take a look at a short video we prepared which talks about our successes and looks ahead to how we are making a difference moving forward.
In a packed hall in downtown Seattle in late January, the Jackson Foundation and the World Affairs Council hosted a remarkably timely discussion on U.S.-Russian relations in the Trump era. The Foundation had the opportunity to showcase Andrei Kozyrev, the former Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. In opening comments, I reminded the audience that Kozyrev was a historic figure in modern Russian political life, who with President Boris Yeltsin helped to dismantle the USSR and worked to better relations with both the U.S. and Europe during the early 1990s. Kozyrev had extraordinary hopes for Russia’s democratic evolution in those heady years. In a lively conversation and question and answer session moderated by former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief and veteran Russia-watcher Jill Dougherty, Kozyrev indicated he remains hopeful about the essential spirit of the Russian people, despite having soured on Putin and his policies in the many years (17) Putin has been in control. In response to a question as to whether the Russian people seek a strongman and gravitate to authoritarianism, Kozyrev said “I witnessed the protests of the Russian people at the Russian White House when tanks surrounded us. I saw thousands of ordinary Russians who surrounded the building in a human wall against the tanks. That was the Russian people speaking.” Emphasizing that Russia’s poor relative wealth to the rest of Europe will inevitably take its toll, and stressing that Russians are in essence Europeans, he said that “I tend to believe that sooner or later the Russian people will want more.”
Kozyrev was upfront about what he thought Putin wanted from President Trump: “Putin now has a sense of entitlement, wants President Trump to give him “payback” for his help in the election,” Kozyrev said, citing the champagne celebration in the Duma as reflecting the overall elation that greeted Trump’s victory in Russia. And yet the former Foreign Minister was scathing in his assessment of Putin and his alleged political smarts: “While Putin is perceived as a man of strategy and strength, it is not anywhere shown in his actions,” noting the bombing of Aleppo, which raises the discontent of Sunni Muslims worldwide, and particularly within Russia. “Is that a smart strategy?” he asked rhetorically. He also decried Putin’s policy in Eastern Ukraine, stressing that Russia will be “stuck there” indefinitely, as well as tied into federal subsidies in the Russian-grabbed territory of Crimea from now on. He characterized both as “a total disaster, with no exit in sight in both places” (Ukraine and Syria).
Kozyrev also referred to Russia’s economic situation as very stretched and said that President Trump, in negotiating a new relationship with Russia or considering the lifting of economic sanctions, should take into account that Russia’s economy is 13 times smaller than the U.S. economy – and dwarfed by the economies of the U.S. and European allies taken as a whole. “With an overextended foreign policy, two wars without any prospect of winning,” Putin doesn’t have much to bargain with. Yes, they will find areas to cooperate on – citing Iran as a good example, and the space programs – but the Russians won’t bargain where they don’t see their own self-interest, he predicted.
The Seattle crowd seemed particularly moved by Kozyrev’s answer to a question as to why Boris Yeltsin had chosen Vladimir Putin to succeed him, so many years ago. “Yeltsin was a limited political figure,” Kozyrev explained. “While he used democratic slogans, his understanding of democracy was skin-deep.” When Russia faced major challenges (such as oil prices as low as $10 barrel), Yeltsin fell back on who he was, which was a creature of the Soviet political structure. And fellow democrats, Kozyrev included, could not come up with a younger, viable alternative political figure. In that, “we failed,” Kozyrev concluded. The audience appreciated Kozyrev’s candor on both current U.S.-Russia relations and the historical perspective.