Water: The Front Line of Climate Change

We’ve been busy this fall, with events on both coasts touching on issues from civil liberties, national security and terrorism (with the Kennan Institute); to the global migration crises and human rights, and its impact both in Washington State and internationally (a Jackson School conference); to “Water and Security in an Uncertain World” with the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.

I’ll focus in on one of these provocative sessions today.  In the packed half-day, public and private event on water security on the East Coast in October, the Jackson Foundation joined with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program to address what Foundation President John Hempelmann termed “the close intersection of climate change, national security, and water.”  Sherri Goodman, former Deputy Undersecretary for Defense and a current Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow, concurred and called water “the front line of climate change.”

The two sessions assessed the risks to water security globally and explored responses to both ongoing problems and short-term water crises.  Lieutenant General Jeffrey Tailey (ret) lamented that “many people are indifferent to water security, which often takes a crisis to make us respond adequately.”  When asked how to generate both interest and policy progress to ensure greater action on water security and water rights, Christian Holmes, Global Water Coordinator, U.S. Agency for International Development, talked of generating a long-term strategy:  “You need to tell a story to engage people.  We haven’t been delivering a narrative.”  This approach could also help interest a U.S. President or Congress in taking more decisive action.

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Roger-Mark de Souza, Ken Conca, and Sherri Goodman speaking on Panel I: Risks and Responses

Foundation Vice President Craig Gannett noted in remarks seconded by many that the U.S. has historically – even in Senator Jackson’s day – not done well in water management in its own backyard.  “We are not a great model for the world,” he cautioned, even as this program focused primarily on international water concerns in regions such as South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East – and often on America’s leading role in the water management field abroad.

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Craig Gannett, Foundation Vice President

Ken Conca, American University Professor, raised the need to extend robust human rights protection to people advocating for water rights:  “Water is one of the real fulcrums for multiple goals – rights and democracy,” he stressed.  Sherri Goodman highlighted the reverse side of the importance of water: “Water can be a source of strategic instability,” exacerbating international conflicts and worsening human rights violations globally.

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Klomjit Chandrapanya, Doris Kaberia, and Sandra Ruckstuhl speaking on Panel II: Water Spillovers: Regional and Sectorial Effects

Roger-Mark de Souza, director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at Wilson, in closing the session, sought to pull together the threads of policy suggestions from the discussion.  He reiterated that major national reports, including the September 2016 Presidential Memo on Climate and Security, as well as the World Bank 2016 Climate Change Action plan, had raised to the highest policy levels the links between climate, security and water.  It is through gatherings such as this that water, climate, and national security will continue to be assessed and pushed forward to the front burner of the policy world.

We’re excited that our programming is diverse, and this program on water, climate and security concerns keeps us focused on critical policy issues that matter to the Jackson Foundation.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

 

Jackson Leadership Fellows Inspire the Seattle Community

The Jackson Leadership Fellows program is having an impact that goes beyond our individual Fellows.  We’ve written about this before, but it keeps becoming clearer – our Fellows are reaching out to others, younger generations, new communities, and audiences.  Two great examples in the last few weeks:

The North Cascades Institute held a Youth Leadership Summit in October that the Jackson Foundation has helped to support for the past few years.  The Summit, held at the Mountaineers Seattle Program Center, brought together young participants in NCI’s programming for a day-long, intensive program highlighting new skills and connections for students.  This year, 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows Michele Frix, Matthew Combe, Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, and 2017 Fellows Alex Adams and Connor Birkeland worked together to lead two sessions for high school students on leadership skills and career development.  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave a surprise visit at the start of the day. The Foundation is pleased that our Jackson Fellows are reaching out to these young environmental leaders and providing models of community engagement.

Front row: Matthew Combe, Michele Frix, Tamara Power-Drutis, Tom Bugert, and in the back row Connor Birkeland and Alex Adams
Front row: 2016 Fellows Matthew Combe, Michele Frix, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Tom Bugert.  Back row: 2017 Fellows Connor Birkeland and Alex Adams

training-shotBoth the current and alumni Fellows enjoyed the event.  Michele Frix summed up the experience with the enthusiasm characteristic of our Jackson Fellows:

“It was truly a highlight of the year. I keep the Scoop Legacy book on my desk – a marked up copy where I have notes to myself on how his leadership style plays out in my day to day work. I have been going back to it more frequently as of late, to remind myself of what a servant leader looks, sounds and acts like. Sometimes when things gets busy, chaotic and challenging, it’s easy to revert back to a less thoughtful style of leadership. I have these little “WWSD” moments – what would Scoop do? And now after learning so much from the other fellows, these moments are often – what would other Scoop Troops do? The session we did with the young leaders was a poignant reminder of why I want to show up like a servant leader – every day, every moment, regardless of how challenging work gets.”

2016 Fellows Michele Frix (holding the Jackson Leadership book), Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Matthew Combe with NCI student participants
2016 Fellows Michele Frix (holding the Jackson Leadership book), Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Matthew Combe with NCI student participants

And in late October, the Holocaust Center for Humanity, an organization that has received several grants from the Jackson Foundation, held its annual luncheon to raise support for the excellent educational programs that it provides to students and the community.  One of our 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows, Ilana Cone Kennedy, works as the Director of Education at the Holocaust Center.  Her Fellows’ project consisted of the creation of a Student Leadership Board, comprised of 30 high school students, who are now working closely with the Holocaust Center to reach other young people throughout the community.

Student Leadership Board Feb 2016 w Steve Adler cropThe big annual fundraiser featured several of these young Student Leadership Board members and their stories of how they had been moved to action by their engagement with the Holocaust Center under Ilana’s educational programming.  It was inspiring to see so many of these young people talking about the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust to them as they confront news stories about Syrian refugees, genocide in Sudan, and other modern challenges with historical resonance.  When Ilana conceived of the Student Leadership Board, she wanted to convey lessons about leadership that had inspired her in the Jackson Leadership Fellows program.

We are proud that the Jackson Leadership Fellows are reaching out to new audiences, doubling and tripling the impact of this important program.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Jackson School Attracts Young Global Leaders

The Jackson Foundation has a long and proud history tied to the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.  Our support for undergraduate and graduate student programming, faculty positions, conferences, visiting lecturers, and research has been at the core of the Foundation’s work since its inception.  The School was close to Senator Jackson’s heart, as it promotes new generations of leaders who will help our country understand the world and take part in America’s foreign policy establishment.

The School is always innovating, and we have been supportive in launching many of the new programs developed over the past decades.  The Master of Arts in International Studies, or MAAIS, a program created two years ago, is a great example of the reinvention and re-thinking at the School under the leadership of Jackson School director Resat Kasaba.  MAAIS is designed to attract early and mid-career professionals from all over the world who have an interest in a 10-month Master’s program that tackles critical global challenges in a pragmatic, policy-oriented manner.  Conceived as a way to connect the university community with the broader Puget Sound region – and all the expertise of its business, philanthropic, and policy circles – the program marries lectures, field visits, and group projects with in-depth international affairs education.

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MAAIS 2016 Graduation Class

Seattle’s location and the excellence of the university draw the dynamic young individuals to this program.  The MAAIS Civic Council, created to support the students, consists of corporate, philanthropic, NGO, political and security sector figures from companies and organizations influencing global policy and decision making.  Recently I had an opportunity, along with a few other members of the Civic Council, to meet with the new MAAIS students from the 2016-17 class and talk about how we can connect them to the broader community.  Once again the students are diverse in every sense of the word – hailing from Afghanistan, China, New England, Hungary, the Pacific Northwest, and Pakistan, among other geographic origins – and representing interests from food security, disability rights, and international trade to journalism, diplomacy and humanitarian development.  Several of the students have had extensive careers in the military, and plan to return there once they’ve received their degrees.  They are experienced young professionals who hope to gain new skills from the MAAIS program, where they will find exposure to new ideas, technology, and a vibrant Seattle community of entrepreneurs and NGOs.

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The Jackson School is already a nationally-recognized leader in international affairs education.  This professionally-oriented new degree allows more students to take advantage of all the Jackson School has to offer and then go out and share what they’ve learned with the world.  The Foundation is proud to have made another grant of support to this important program just this week.

Read more about the MAAIS program and the wonderful cohort of students engaged at the School this year.  And tell young professionals about it as they consider navigating international affairs to move forward in their careers.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Meet the 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellows!

We are excited to announce the new class of the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program — our second — an initiative at the heart of the Foundation’s work.  The Fellows Program is intended to provide a small cohort of young professional leaders in the Puget Sound region with training, mentoring, and networking to build their skills.  The program is values-based:  it is founded on the principles that anchored Senator Jackson and that we believe translate to a younger generation.   Their enthusiastic, community-oriented, and passionate outlook invigorates all of us.  And we intend to keep them connected to the Jackson Foundation and the Jackson legacy.  We know you will be excited to learn more about who they are and how they will contribute to our region – and our nation – in the years ahead.

Collage_Fotor4copyThe 2017 class is diverse in so many ways, with Fellows drawn from the government, non-profit, academic, philanthropic, and business sectors.  We are certain the variety of viewpoints represented will help generate new ideas and new ways of solving problems.  The Fellows range in age from young 20’s to 40.  They share an enthusiasm for their careers:  this year’s class is engaged in natural resources management, climate, and renewable energy as well as rule of law, human rights, political communication, racial equity, and civil discourse.  It is that tremendous commitment to success – coupled with a desire to give back to the community – that has already made them stand out.

We hope to contribute to the continued development of these exceptional young leaders.  We will keep you informed on the work they are doing together and individually in the spirit and tradition of Senator Henry M. Jackson.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Jackson Fellow promotes key Jackson legislative legacy

Andrew Lewis Andrew Lewis, one of the 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows, chose for his project to analyze and write about an important Jackson achievement – the Land and Water Conservation Fund – addressing both its significance and its future funding and standing in Congress. As a recent graduate from the UC Berkeley School of Law, Andrew felt naturally drawn to legislation close to the heart of the Jackson legacy. Andrew has always been heavily involved in Washington State politics – starting at the early age of 14 as an intern in Washington State Senator Patty Murray’s re-election in 1994! His legal interests include environmental law, so he was attracted to the battle over the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s future. Senator Jackson introduced the original Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act at President John F. Kennedy’s request. For over 50 years, the Fund has contributed resources to parks, wild spaces, recreation areas, and the natural heritage of our country. A small portion of oil and gas royalties funds the LWCF, as Jackson intended it to do, making the funding source smart economic and environmental policy.

Andrew’s paper, published in the Ecology Law Quarterly in spring 2016, explains the history of the LWCF and its purposes, namely “to preserve, develop and assure accessibility to outdoor recreation resources for the American people.” To do this, Congress authorized a $900 million annual appropriation to fund the LWCF. Historically, however, while the Fund has received resources, it has never received the full amount intended by the legislation. Andrew shows the LWCF’s success in driving conservation and economic growth despite its dwindling funding from Congress over the years.

Most important, Andrew describes the current state of the LWCF as “tenuous.” Congress gave the Fund a temporary, three-year extension and an appropriation of $450 million. Foundation President John Hempelmann mentored Andrew and provided him with careful editing as well as a big-picture political perspective on the legislation. Both John and Andrew expressed relief that the Fund’s life has been extended, but they are concerned about its future.  Andrew outlines options currently under discussion in Congress – led by Washington State leaders – that would provide permanent funding for the LWCF.

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John Hempelmann, Foundation President, with Brett Phillips and Andrew Lewis

The paper does an excellent job of clearly assessing the past and future prospects of this important piece of Jackson’s environmental legacy, and the protection of our nation’s natural resources. Bravo to Andrew for his excellent piece and for landing an article in a prestigious law journal – all while finishing law school.

 

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Jackson Fellows Reaching More Young Leaders

Talk about inspirational!  I had the chance to sit in on part of the Center for Women and Democracy’s Leadership Institute, an annual short course for dynamic young leaders – all professional women from the region – that the Center conducts.  The participants are impressive:  they range from graduate students in engineering or international studies to human rights activists, global health experts and philanthropic sector analysts.  I was fortunate to speak briefly to the group about Senator Jackson because one of our own Jackson Leadership Fellows, Jaime Hawk, is a long-time board member of the Center and chose the Leadership Institute as the place to concentrate her individual project time for the Fellowship.

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Panelists, from left to right: Michelle Frix, Tamara Power-Drutis, Laura Stewart, and Jaime Hawk (2016 Jackson Fellows).

Using the Foundation’s Nature of Leadership publication, which focuses on the enduring Jackson values that we believe are widely applicable for new generations of leaders, Jaime pulled together a panel for the community engagement part of the Institute’s curriculum.  The panel, “Leadership for the Public Good,” featured Jaime in a conversation with a few of her compatriots from the Jackson Leadership Fellows program – Tamara Powers-Drutis, Laura Stewart, and Michelle Frix.  All four Fellows have been working together to become more effective and successful leaders, and they discussed the influences on them – many pointing to their mothers as key – and the mentors and inspirations they have drawn upon.  Framing the discussion around what motivated these successful women in their own lives and careers, Jaime elicited the passion that drives each of them on a daily basis.  They shared reflections on their journey, how and why they chose public service, and the turning points that shaped their careers.

As Jaime put it, working in the public sector is more about “finding the kind of job where I can be passionate about what I do – for my 60 hours a week!”   Tamara agreed, saying that she also thought about “where are gaps that her passions can fill” in the sector as she pondered her own career path.  Laura captivated the audience with her personal story of activism from her earliest days as a child in Swaziland, where she was drawn to environmental justice because of inequities around her, disproportionately hurting her community.  Michele, now Chief of Staff at the Seattle Foundation, spoke of her own journey, emphasizing her personal decision to “go deeper” into a field – rather than be a generalist – and her immersion in Latin America studies at the Jackson School as a vital first step on that road.

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Linda Mason Wilgis (Foundation vice president) — front row, fourth from left —served as one of Jaime Hawk’s mentors in the Fellows program. She is shown with participants in the Leadership Institute.

One of Jaime’s mentors for the program, Foundation vice president Linda Mason Wilgis, attended the panel discussion and was equally moved at the honesty and heartfelt remarks by the Fellows. “It was a privilege to hear [the Jackson Fellows] share with other young leaders their passions and what has inspired them to make a difference in the world and in their local communities.  I continue to be amazed at the depth and breadth of their experience and intellect at such a young age.”

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Fellows having an impact far beyond the Foundation

Tamara Power-Drutis, one of this year’s Jackson Leadership Fellows, chose for her individual project to create an ambitious media workshop for the community.  Entitled “Press for the People:  A Grassroots Media Workshop,” the day-long event in early June was intended to help those who might have under represented voices in the Seattle media scene.  Sessions such as “Finding and Shaping Your Story,” “Video Storytelling Workshop” and “Photography Workshop” helped participants – who were all ages, colors, and backgrounds – tap into helpful tips from local experts and journalists.  Tamara’s employer, Crosscut Public Media, was a key sponsor of the event, but Tamara signed on KCTS television, the Seattle Weekly, the Seattle Globalist, the International Examiner, South Seattle Emerald, and the Seattle Channel, as well as the Jackson Foundation, to be cosponsors of the event.

Opening Panel with local editors
Opening Panel with local editors

Tamara’s goal in putting on the highly substantive event was to help members of the community learn how to generate stories, identify and interview sources, navigate local media, produce multi-media photo, audio and video stories, and connect with local editors to get to know them — and potentially pitch future story ideas.  Professional journalists and media specialists donated their time to help train the participants.

People were enthusiastic about what the workshop:  “I learned how to identify how my knowledge can connect to more universal storytelling and what editors need from their writers,” one participants wrote to Tamara.  Another teacher who attended with her students wrote “I love having local, low-cost opportunities for my students to gain other perspectives about journalism and media.”

Writing workshop with Drew Atkins, Editor at Crosscut
Writing workshop with Drew Atkins, Editor at Crosscut

Community members were particularly pleased to have an opportunity to sit down with the local editors one on one to talk about how to get attention for their stories.

Carol Vipperman, Jackson Foundation Program Manager for the Jackson Fellows initiative, attended the workshop and also led a photography workshop.  “I was impressed by the diversity of participants, both in terms of what parts of the city that they represented and the fact that they were just citizens who wanted to learn how to get their stories into the media.  The workshop was truly hands-on.  I think a highlight for people was the ability to sit down with local editors and pitch their stories.  The openness of the editors and all of the organizations who sponsored the day to include these voices in the media was very much appreciated by attendees.”

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Rising Stars at the Jackson School

This week the Jackson Foundation hosted a lunch to highlight graduate students at the University of Washington’s Jackson School who are benefiting from Jackson Foundation fellowship support.  “These Jackson Fellowships represent the core of the Foundation’s long-time support for the School,” said John Hempelmann, Foundation president, in introducing the event.  “Support for high-level graduate training in international affairs is fundamental to the Jackson legacy.”

It is always inspiring and somewhat humbling to meet the young graduate students who are benefiting from the Fellowships.  They are an accomplished bunch, with many languages and research areas between them!

Craig Gannett and Andrew Munro chat with Celia Ann Baker, Jackson/Culp Fellow
Craig Gannett and Andrew Munro, Board members, chat with Celia Anne Baker, Jackson/Culp Fellow

To help the School with a new initiative, the Foundation supports a PhD student in the Jackson School’s doctoral program.  The program is pragmatic in nature – it is three years (rather than the customary five) and thematic (rather than just history, politics, or economics).  Two recent PhD fellows, Deep Pal and Oded Oron, joined Foundation Board members for lunch. Deep studies Indian foreign and security policy and follows India’s interaction with China with great interest.  Deep values the Jackson legacy in his work:  “I was first exposed to Senator Jackson’s vision of forging closer alliances in Asia during my stint with the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington, D.C. I believe this line of thought resonates in my work – at a time when Asia is undergoing profound changes, alliances between like-minded powers like India and the United States are going to be more important.”

Deep Pal and Oded Oron, Jackson PhD Fellows
Deep Pal and Oded Oron, Jackson PhD Fellows

Oded’s research focuses on the mobilization of irregular migrants such as guest workers, undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and refuges. His dissertation compares African migrants mobilizing in Israel with migrant movements in Washington State, so the Fellowship here has been a great fit.  He is also deeply aware of the Jackson legacy in immigrant human rights, represented by the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and Jackson’s outspoken defense of the right to emigrate freely.

The Foundation also funds two Henry M. Jackson/Gordon Culp Fellows each year — one in Russian and East European Studies and one in China Studies at the School.  Ross Doll, the China Fellow, and Celia Anne Baker, the Russia Fellow, engaged the crowd as they talked about their work and the way that the Fellowship has helped them move forward professionally.  These two fields have been integral to the history of the Jackson School and were a key reason that Senator Jackson worked hard to support the School and its students during his Senate years.  The Foundation is proud to continue that tradition.

Ross Doll, Jackson/Culp Fellow
Ross Doll, Jackson/Culp Fellow
Celia Ann Baker, Jackson/Culp Fellow
Celia Anne Baker, Jackson/Culp Fellow

Resat Kasaba, Jackson School Director, spoke of the Foundation’s unstinting commitment to the School for over 30 years:  “In recent years we have introduced a new Ph.D. Program and a new Applied Master’s Program with Foundation support.   These initiatives have enriched the Jackson School’s profile significantly.   Thanks to our partnership, we have recruited top-notch students from around the world, strengthened our ties to the Pacific Northwest region, and established new relationships with the policy world in Washington D.C.  Foundation support has been critical in keeping the School at the top of its game.”

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Leadership Insights from Washington State’s Attorney General

As part of the Jackson Fellows program, the Foundation was fortunate recently to host a discussion with the Fellows and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson on leadership.  The Attorney General is a valued member of the Foundation’s Honorary Council of Advisors.  Ferguson, whose parents deeply admired Senator Jackson and instilled Jackson values in their son, made time for a one-on-one dialogue with the Fellows.

Linda Mason Wilgis, Foundation Vice President, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Michele Frix, 2016 Fellow
Linda Mason Wilgis, Foundation Vice President, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Michele Frix, 2016 Fellow

In a thought-provoking, memorable session, Ferguson couched his lessons of leadership in terms of his former hobby of chess, a sport he dedicated himself to for several formative years before embracing the law and politics as a career.  “If you lose, you have no one to blame but yourself,” he began.  “You were outplayed.  You made a mistake.  Take responsibility for your actions,” he advised.  Mistakes will happen:  what is important is taking ownership of them and being accountable to others.  He also suggested analyzing one’s losses carefully.  “The path to improvement is a careful scrutiny of the games that you have lost,” he stressed.

IMG_1234Continuing the chess analogy, Ferguson told the young Fellows to “imagine a position in the future and think of the possible moves to get there.”  It is important to take calculated risks, he said.  “As a leader, you should be willing to go to that position and accept the consequences.”

Turning to leadership and team-building, Ferguson believes that: “Your team watches you closely.   If you have a leadership role, they are watching you.”  This engenders in him a sense of responsibility and the importance of modeling ethical behavior.  “You set the tone,” he reminded the group.  “True leadership also means true listening,” he counseled.

The Fellows peppered Ferguson for advice and input that stems from their own professional dilemmas.  When faced with complex situations, Ferguson told them:  “Be true to yourself.  Don’t compromise.”

IMG_1244The Fellows deeply appreciated the opportunity to engage with a leader like Attorney General Ferguson.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Youth Town Hall

Senator Jackson believed deeply in the importance of good government.  For him, that meant being prepared, well-informed, and ready to work with others – from either political party – to get major legislation passed.  One part of the Foundation’s work is to encourage civic and political engagement, particularly among young people.  We recently found a new partner in the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate to do just that.  The Kennedy Institute, only a year old, and the Jackson Foundation, together sponsored a Youth Town Hall at the Institute’s home base in Boston, Massachusetts.  The timing, in the midst of the 2016 presidential election, could not have been better and enthusiasm for the event was high.

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One of the special aspects of the Kennedy Institute is its full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber.  It’s a wonderful place to hold events and to bring in young people to learn about political life, the legislative process, the art of compromise, and the history of the Senate.  We chose to hold the Youth Town Hall in the Senate Chamber and it was packed with millennials from colleges and programs throughout the Boston area.  The session opened with a sense of history from both Mrs. Vicki Kennedy, President of the Institute’s Board and the Senator’s widow, and John Hempelmann, the Foundation’s president.  Both highlighted the special relationship between Scoop and Ted and the manner in which each man valued colleagues and worked to pass important legislation during their years in the Senate.  As John Hempelmann put it, “These men shared some important values that made them both great leaders – their desire to reach across the aisle for new perspectives, their ability to negotiate and compromise, and their keen understanding of the institution of the Senate. “

John Hempelmann, Foundation President
John Hempelmann, Foundation President

The Youth Town Hall had two excellent young moderators in Lauren Dezenski, from Politico, and Mike Deehan, of WGBH News.  They deftly got the crowd to discuss the interactive survey of views of the political process – How can we get you more involved in political life?  How likely are you to volunteer for a campaign? How important are the issues discussed in the presidential election to your life?  Are the candidates talking about your issues? What can be improved in the civic education of our country?

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Mike Deehan, WGBH News, and Co-Moderator

The diverse crowd, filled with the children of immigrants and immigrants themselves, as well as the full spectrum of young people from the region, had strong opinions.  At times, they seemed to reflect some of the well-known stereotypes of the millennial generation – they want their voices to be valued and heard.  They are optimistic about the future, but cynical about politics.  They have a fresh, unadulterated take on society and are not afraid to speak up.  The room held Bernie Sanders supporters  – lots of them – but also Trump and Clinton advocates.  A 15-year old spoke up:  “We need to make sure that students know that their voices be heard.”  A young African American woman declared her interest in running for political office to offset the lack of women of color in the U.S. political life.  An immigrant from Nigeria made an enthusiastic defense of Trump.  One person made a plea for young people to “talk about ourselves as those who have a right to participate in society, rather than seeing ourselves as someone ‘less than’ equal to others.”  “Our view of how we see the world is legitimate – we are not just an age group.”

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As the youngest member of the Massachusetts State Senate, Senator Eric P. Lesser reminded the crowd at the end,  “Take on and challenge cynicism rather than embrace it.  Real change comes from the community up.”

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Massachusetts State Senator Eric P. Lesser

This was the first Youth Town Hall sponsored by the Kennedy Institute and the Jackson Foundation.  It was inspiring and can be watched in full here.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

Photos courtesy of Eric Haynes Photography