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Jackson Fellows Go To Olympia

Each year we take our current class of Jackson Leadership Fellows to Washington, D.C. to introduce them to our Congressional delegation and to showcase them in a public event. When we shared how useful these experiences are for the Fellows with Washington State Representative Gael Tarleton last fall, she enthusiastically offered to introduce the Fellows to the State Democratic Caucus in Olympia, Washington. A few weeks ago, we took her up on it. Despite the threat of snow, we chartered a small bus, picked up Foundation president John Hempelmann and took several of our Fellows — including alumni — to Olympia last month. It turned out to be a very productive and inspiring day for everyone.

From left to right: Andrew Lewis, Board President John Hempelmann, Michele Frix, Danielle Granatt, Matthew Combe, Joe Nguyen, Christina Sciabarra, Arianna Muirow, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Brandon Hersey at the State Capitol.

The Fellows were welcomed to the Democratic Caucus with applause, and then Representative Gael Tarleton introduced John Hempelmann to talk about Senator Jackson, the Foundation, and the value of the Jackson Leadership Fellows program. Each Fellow introduced themselves and described their projects. Legislators approached the Fellows afterwards to learn more about their work in the community.

Rep. Gael Tarleton addresses the group. A formal picture and fun selfie followed!
From left to right: Andrew Lewis, Michele Frix, Christina Sciabarra, Joe Nguyen, Arianna Muirow, Matthew Combe, Stephanie Celt, Representative Gael Tarleton, Danielle Granatt, Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, John Hempelmann, Fellows Program Manager Carol Vipperman, and Brandon Hersey.

Following the meeting, Representative Tarleton wrote in an email that “The Fellows are just amazing, their projects so compelling. It is important for these individuals to experience what it means to serve in public office. Scoop Jackson never lost his ties back to his home town of Everett. He sustained those connections and kept building them throughout his career.  Perhaps some will decide to run for office, and others will decide to join staffs of elected officials. But what every single one of them needs to know is that they spoke to a full house of legislators who are the majority party in WA State’s People’s House. And they impressed us all.”

Senator Zeiger, center, also a Jackson Fellow 2017, meets with the Fellows. Pictured are 2018 Fellows Arianna Muirow and Joe Nguyen.

Immediately following, 2017 Jackson Fellow and Washington State Senator Hans Zeiger met with the Fellows. Hans shared information about the history of the Senate, followed by a group photo, and a discussion on the workings of the legislature. When answering a question about how to encourage more civic engagement, Senator Zeiger responded that we need more Jackson Fellows and to consider a run for office.

From left to right: Christina Sciabarra, Tamara Power-Drutis, Arianna Muirow, Matthew Combe, Danielle Granatt, Brandon Hersey, Senator Hans Zeiger, Andrew Lewis, Stephanie Celt, Michele Frix, Joe Nguyen, John Hempelmann, and Carol Vipperman.
The Fellows walked across the State Campus to meet with Washington State Public Lands Commissioner, Hilary Franz.  Photo credit: Joe Nguyen
Commissioner Hilary Franz and John Hempelmann. Photo credit: Joe Nguyen

In addition to presenting information about the scope of her agency, Ms. Franz shared her perspective on running for office. She also encouraged the Fellows to consider public service as a career and found many interesting connections with several of the Fellows’ projects.  We left informed, impressed, and inspired by her leadership.

The day in Olympia was a positive experience for the Fellows.  In addition to the substance of the meetings, the trip to and from Olympia gave members an opportunity to bond, explore possibilities, and have fun. The Foundation was able to showcase this important program to members of our state government. As a result, we decided to make this an annual event – well worth the time spent.

We would like to thank Representative Gael Tarleton, Senator Hans Zeiger, and Commissioner Hilary Franz for helping make this a great experience for the Jackson Leadership Fellows. See you next year!

Carol Vipperman

Program Manager for the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program

The Scoop Jackson Style of Politics

Hans Zeiger, a Jackson Leadership Fellow (2017) and a Washington State Senator from Puyallup, recently produced a short essay “The Scoop Jackson Style of Politics:  Lessons in relationship-building from one of the great U.S. Senators of the 20th century.” The monograph is the end result of Hans’ project for his Jackson Leadership Fellowship, and is a topic that he gravitated toward given his own commitment to and engagement in political life.  The Fellows can do a variety of initiatives as a project for their fellowship, and a few, like Hans, have chosen to do research or exploratory papers on concerns related to the Jackson legacy.

In this paper, Hans draws on interviews conducted with Jackson’s staffers and colleagues to assess whether relationships still matter in American politics, and he concludes that they do: “Jackson showed the potential of people-centered politics and proved the moral advantages of government based on human relationships.”  Throughout his thoughtful piece, he references the qualities that made Jackson successful, emphasizing that Jackson was a man of the people, a collaborator with others, a mentor, a teacher, and a student, when it was necessary. He asks, “can the Jackson style of leadership be emulated in a new century at the level of the U.S. Senate, if not the presidency?”

Hans Zeiger speaking at a Jackson Fellows event in Washington, D.C.

Hans played a quiet but formidable role himself in his Jackson Fellows cohort and continues to influence his peers in the Washington State Legislature and beyond through his own brand of collaborative, bipartisan-oriented policymaking. We are proud to have him as a Jackson Leadership Fellow alum and equally proud to share this publication with you today.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Farewell, Helen Jackson: You will be Missed

Our Chairman Emeritus, Helen H. Jackson, passed away on February 24, at the age of 84. As I write these words, I am deeply struck at the loss to the Jackson Foundation, which she helped to create, and to the extended Jackson Foundation family of Scoop’s Troops, Board members, staff, and assorted hundreds of others, whom she nurtured and led for so many years in her role as Chairman of the Board.

This is both a personal loss to Helen’s immediate family – her daughter Anna Marie Jackson Laurence and son Peter Jackson sit on our Board – and to those of us fortunate enough to have known Helen over the years. There is a wonderful tribute in the Everett Herald, the local newspaper of Scoop and Helen’s home town, full of pictures and details of Helen’s full and meaningful life.

We have our own memories: Helen with her ready laugh, particularly about anyone too full of themselves, always there to help the staff and Board carry out the Foundation’s work. In the early days, Helen rolled up her sleeves and came often to her office with its wall of photos, small elegant desk, faded pink satin couch, and pile of letters. She always made a point to sign each and every one of the letters to donors herself – a monumental task when our donor list had 3,000 names! I think this gave us a sense of Helen’s devotion to duty and her connection to the Jackson network. She also had a special fondness for chocolate, which we shared and laughed about. She was interested in our lives, our families, and our stories (although she was horrified when our adventures involved anything physically challenging or the consumption of exotic food).

Helen worked with then Executive Director Robin Pasquarella and then Board President Bill Van Ness to build the Jackson Foundation into a substantive and enduring legacy to Scoop. She had a hand in setting the priorities of the Foundation – first among them, supporting the School of International Studies at the University of Washington that would bear her husband’s name. Helen always championed the students and faculty at the university and sought to make the Jackson School a premier educational institution.

Helen with John Simpson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and then director of the Jackson School Jere Bacharach (standing) and Lara Iglitzin, at a signing for one of the endowed professorships given to the School.

The Foundation of course made an early commitment to environment, energy, and natural resources management given that those concerns constituted a towering part of Scoop’s legislative legacy. Helen leaned on Gren Garside, Bill Van Ness, Chuck Luce, Sterling Munro and others to establish the Foundation as a leader in the environmental arena. Because of Jackson’s role in the preservation and creation of national parks in the Northwest, she often was called on to speak on behalf of the family and the Foundation.

Helen at the dedication and ribbon cutting for the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, Mount Rainier National Park in 1987

Yet Helen herself ensured that we focused on human rights, a central part of Jackson’s achievements but also one of her own passions.

In 1978 at the height of the Cold War, she co-founded and co-chaired the bipartisan watchdog group Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry, working alongside Scoop’s staff members like Dorothy Fosdick and Richard Perle to raise attention to the plight of Jews and prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union. She made many speeches and met individually with family members seeking to have their loved ones freed, work she continued long after Senator Jackson’s death.

At a huge demonstration in support of Soviet Jewry in 1984

Two decades later the Jackson Foundation partnered with the famous Refusenik Natan Sharansky after his release from prison, and Elena Bonner, widow of the renowned dissident scientist Andrei Sakharov, to celebrate the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which helped hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews emigrate from the USSR.  An extraordinary moment for the Jackson legacy, it was fitting that Helen was in Israel to soak in the adulation of the crowd. I served as her right-hand staff member at that Jerusalem conference and as her unofficial translator for the Russian emigres eager to convey to Helen what Senator Jackson’s leadership – and her own efforts – had meant to them. It was a special role to play. She shared Scoop’s commitment to human rights and fully participated in the marking of this crowning achievement.

Helen with Avital Sharansky, wife of then imprisoned Refusenik Natan Sharansky, at a demonstration in NYC.

Given her lifetime of leadership in human rights, the Foundation was proud to establish the Helen H. Jackson Chair for Human Rights at the Jackson School in her honor a decade ago. Dr. Angelina Godoy, the first holder of the Chair, oversees a human rights center that is on the vanguard of activism and scholarship nationally. It is a lasting tribute to Helen.

Angelina Godoy, Helen Jackson Chair, left, with her students at the Human Rights Center at the Jackson School

Unfailingly gracious and supportive of us all, Helen greatly appreciated the effort to continue the Jackson legacy, which meant the world to her.

Helen, we will miss you.


Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

Fake News, Free Speech, and Russian Influence

Ripped from the headlines. That’s what our work feels like, sometimes, at the Jackson Foundation. Given our focus on important topics such as climate change, human rights, rule of law, and the need for new public leadership, our efforts have never felt more vital.

This couldn’t have been more obvious than in the wake of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller indictments against Russian individuals and institutions for a targeted disinformation campaign intended to sow dissension in the United States in the run-up to the 2016 election. And that interference in the U.S. is clearly continuing up to the present day.

The Foundation, in a partnership with Human Rights First, has been working quietly for several years to highlight the role Russia has been playing in an influence game in the West. Suddenly this disinformation and fake news effort on the part of the Kremlin has become front page news.

From left to right: Melissa Hooper (Moderator) with panelists Jamie Fly, Amy MacKinnon, and Nina Jankowicz.

Recently we held a public event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. focused on Fake News, Free Speech, and Foreign Influence. In the wake of extraordinary coverage of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and its ongoing interference in social media, this event focused on how the U.S. can combat disinformation and counter Russia’s online influence campaigns. The discussion included two highly-substantive panels with experts who described the nature of the false content – it is ongoing, hard to identify, impacts both political parties, and seeks to divide Americans. In a riveting panel moderated by Human Rights First’s Melissa Hooper, Jamie Fly, Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., warned the packed room, “This is still going on, it never stopped. The Russians never left and others learned from the Russians. The goal is to sow chaos and pit Americans against each other.” Amy MacKinnon agreed, saying that, “It exploits grievances that are already in societies. They know where the fault lines lie. They know more about us by far than we know about them.”

Independent author and researcher Nina Jankowicz emphasized that solutions would come from “a whole of government approach, including the Department of Education.” A day or two after the event, The New York Times published an opinion piece on this topic written by her that expanded on this view.

From left to right: Shanthi Kalanthil, (moderator) with panelists Emma Llanso, Jason Pielemeier, and Tiffany Li.

Other speakers also recommended changing our society in ways that would make it less vulnerable to this type of exploitation. A number of speakers emphasized strengthening basic critical thinking skills, civic training and civic education in our nation. They suggested that Americans should improve their media literacy and support high-quality independent media. The panelists believe that technology companies should also play a larger role assisting this process, such as by creating greater transparency around automated bots and better identifying information sources.

Foundation President John Hempelmann offered a welcome for the program and Vice President Craig Gannett and Program Officer Maura Sullivan attended. They found the program, which is one of a number that we have produced in partnership with Human Rights First related to Russia’s role in influencing Western societies, to be informative, well executed, and timely. Human Rights First plans to synthesize the thoughts from the day and will work to inform members of Congress about the recommendations. We will share that with you when it is complete.


Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director


The Jackson Foundation’s Year in Review

The Board of Governors of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation recently held its Annual Board meeting in downtown Seattle. The Board meeting is an opportunity for Board members to review the audited financials and the budget, discuss the year’s grants and programs and assess their impact, fine tune the governance of the organization, and raise other relevant concerns. This year, the Foundation received my annual Executive Director’s Report, which provides a snapshot of the work of the Foundation in the Fiscal Year. To accompany the Report, we also produced a short slide show that gives a nice visual overview of the year in review, focusing on our many exciting programs throughout the year.

We were joined the night before the Board meeting by Lt. Gen Stephen J. Lanza (Ret), James Schlesinger Practitioner-in-Residence at the Jackson School of International Studies, a position we supported. General Lanza and Jackson School Director Resat Kasaba engaged the Board in a lively conversation about the demands and challenges of leadership in the 21st century, areas of synergy between the School and the military, particularly in developing new young foreign policy analysts and experts for our nation, and implications of climate change that play into international and national security considerations. General Lanza praised the Jackson School, and Dr. Kasaba, for having the foresight to devote itself to educating the next generation of young people to take the helm in foreign policy circles.

General Lanza speaking at the Annual Meeting dinner.

At lunch after the Board meeting, co-founders of the Center for Climate & Security, Frank Femia and Caitlin Werrell joined the Board in a discussion moderated by one of the Foundation Vice Presidents, Susan Wickwire, that delved further into the climate security work that the Foundation is supporting. Femia and Werrell provided an impressive and concise overview of the political calculations and negotiations that are currently underway in Washington, DC as they relate to climate and national security, a subject that occasionally generates rare bipartisan action.

Frank Femia speaking at the Annual Meeting luncheon.

This was a successful and productive Annual Board meeting. The Foundation is fortunate to have a dedicated and engaged cohort of Board members, led by Board President John Hempelmann. At this year’s meeting, several new members were elected to the Board, including the first alumnus of the Jackson Leadership Fellows’ program, Matt Combe. We hope this will be the first of many elevations of our Leadership Fellows to our Board.

We thought you might enjoy reading the Executive Director’s Report and viewing the slide show, as both together really show you what we’re about and how much we’re doing. We welcome your questions and reactions to our work.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director



Jackson Fellow Works on Workforce Equity

The Jackson Foundation occasionally asks one of the Jackson Leadership Fellows to contribute a blog about their own projects and activities, inspired in part by their work during the Fellowship year. Today’s blog is by 2017 Fellow Alyssa Patrick, who has been engaged in an innovative effort to improve workplace equity right here in Puget Sound. 

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

In 2014, I moved to Seattle and unintentionally placed myself between the dichotomous outcomes of the city’s economic boom. Through my job in university economic development I saw the signs of prosperity – new business, new job opportunities, new and young residents. Through my volunteer experience in Big Brothers, Big Sisters, however, I saw how the growth exacerbated already existing wealth and racial disparities. Seeing these challenges sparked my interest in a career in public service, and in particular how to develop long-term solutions to complex problems. Senator Jackson’s legacy of that approach drew me to apply to the Leadership Fellowship. Becoming a Fellow gave me my first lessons in public service, and provided me an opportunity to start exploring the programs, partnerships and investments needed to equitably disperse Seattle and King County’s prosperity.

The role of workforce in equitable economic development

My exploration focused on regional workforce development. Access to Seattle’s high demand jobs requires access to quality education and training. Barriers to that access often exist for communities of color, low income communities, and others historically marginalized. While Seattle’s median income hit $80,000 in 2016 and skilled workers remain in high demand, the people benefiting from those opportunities are still largely white and often from out of state. In addition to earning less, communities of color often also live further from new job opportunities in the city center due to historically racist zoning policies. One way to start changing these trends is investing in education and training for young people who are disconnected from a path to living wage work.

According to a recent report from the Workforce Development Council of King County, many of those young people are living in South King County. While there are several public agencies dedicated to making education and training investments in that area, I wanted to know how to engage local employers. Improving access to quality jobs in the region also requires buy-in from companies who are prioritizing diversity and inclusion initiatives. In order to explore this question through my Jackson Fellowship project, I turned to the Technology Access Foundation (TAF). TAF is a non-profit focused on improving access to STEM and technology fields for students of color and underrepresented communities. TAF is leading innovative approaches to overcoming workforce disparities – including a STEM-based school in partnership with the Federal Way School District, a fellowship program for teachers of color, and distribution of the STEMbyTAF academic model. Given I am not from the impacted communities, it was important for me to learn from community-developed approaches and how I – and the public sector – can better support them.

When I approached TAF, they were looking to grow the corporate partnerships crucial to their mission. For my project, I helped plan a small, executive-level roundtable event to engage potential corporate partners, and kick off a new initiative called UnTapped. The initiative aims to provide companies with the knowledge and tools needed to tap into a diverse talent pool before students graduate from high school.

A Jackson Project with the Technology Access Foundation

The event took place in September at F5 Networks. We invited HR and recruiting representatives new to TAF to hear a panel discussion from existing partners and TAF alumni on the impact of integrating K-12 engagement into diversity and inclusion efforts. After the discussion, attendees broke into working groups to share existing challenges to taking that approach, and how to start overcoming them.

The conversation and what I learned working with TAF left me struck by the relative simplicity of the steps needed for change. Over the past couple of decades many companies have started diversity and inclusion initiatives focused largely on recruitment and retention efforts. The panelists discussed the importance of changing job descriptions to make sure they aren’t unintentionally biased towards one population, and setting up internal mentorship programs and other resources so underrepresented groups hired into largely white companies feel supported.

“Making sure people know they don’t have to become somebody else to be successful in your company is crucial,” said Francois Locoh-Donou, CEO of F5, who spoke during the event.

Another often overlooked challenge of recruiting from black and brown communities mentioned during the panel was networking. If leaders and recruiters are white and largely reaching out to white networks, demographics in the companies will stay the same.

“Having administrators and CEOs who are actually part of diverse communities is crucial,” said panelist Aiko Bethea, director of diversity and inclusion at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “Be careful not to just parachute in for recruiting, though. Actually work to expand your networks, showing up personally and on a regular basis.”

While simple in concept, the recommendations still take time, energy and resources. Two of the biggest take-aways for leaders in the room, and for myself, were the need to prioritize these efforts, and to put yourself into uncomfortable settings to make real change.

Thanks to the event, TAF fostered deeper relationships with companies who were energized by the conversation. TAF is continuing the UnTapped series, and the next event is taking place at Google on January 11.

The event and several months I spent working with TAF gave me a better understanding of the barriers faced by communities of color, the engagement need from employers to make change, and methods for encouraging that engagement. In the fall, I started a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Washington, where I am pursuing additional questions about the role of public-private partnerships in equitable economic development. I am grateful for the Jackson Leadership Fellowship, and the opportunity it provided to explore an issue close to my heart that will continue guiding my career.

Alyssa Patrick, 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow

Farewell to President Emeritus of the Foundation Bill Van Ness

The Jackson Foundation and the extended Jackson family recently lost its founder and rock with the passing of Bill Van Ness. Bill served as the Foundation’s President of the Board for 20 years. But Bill made his mark upon this world in many ways. As a devoted family man, Bill and Pat, his wife of 58 years, had four children, who invariably could be found visiting him at his cabin on the Olympic Peninsula along with their broods of kids. And he founded a successful law firm, Van Ness Feldman, which continues on two coasts doing important, policy-relevant law.

I always found the scene a bit incongruous when I visited Bill at his beach cabin – the brilliant lawyer, one of the sharpest legal minds, the staffer who worked with Senator Jackson to draft the ground-breaking National Environmental Policy Act  – in his work overalls, bossing around the grandchildren as they dug for clams or dragged their little wooden boat across the grass. In that setting, Bill was relaxed, focused on being a good host, getting his guests a beer or a coke, showing off his freshly varnished teak tables, offering clams or salmon fresh from Puget Sound.

Bill in his classic mode – grilling salmon at a Scoop’s Troops event

But that was Bill –a country boy, who grew up in Montana and Washington State and raised himself into a professional career by his bootstraps and with a mind like a steel trap. University of Washington Law School led him to work for Senator Jackson, a partnership that lasted Jackson’s life time, even after Bill left to found his own law firm with his close colleague, Howard Feldman.

Bill and his law partner and friend, Howard Feldman

I came to know Bill as my boss and mentor and as a father figure. Bill was tough –schooled before the days of giving prizes and praise no matter what you did – but if you performed, you knew it. One “you did good” from him meant the world. He could be gruff but you knew he had heart – he couldn’t hide it.

Bill taught me how to write and edit (if only from reading his scrawled notes in the margin), how to anticipate questions from readers and audiences (“never ask a question you don’t know the answer to”), how to provide sufficient background to set the stage for an argument (preferably a fat briefing book of memos and research), how to be political and ensure that you had your ducks in a row before a big, important meeting. He also taught me by example about integrity. Rigorous in everything he did, he never cut corners. It was a key lesson.

Bill with Senator Jackson

Because he was dedicated to Scoop Jackson and all that he stood for, Bill couched much of his world view in Jackson’s values: “good judgment” was the ultimate compliment he could pay you. He valued balanced reporting, scholarship, and loyalty. He was a big picture thinker – one of his law partners once said that Bill might have ten ideas at once and one of them would be brilliant – yet he sweated the details too.

Bill dedicated himself to the Jackson Foundation in ways large and small, taking on the role of president as more of a day-to-day task, calling me 5-6 times a day with an idea, an edit, or to tell me to fax him something. He loved that fax machine. As the ultimate staffer, he taught me how to staff. I could imagine how well he had staffed Senator Jackson in the way that he modeled being prepared, being thorough, vetting everything, thinking ahead. After Jackson’s death he staffed Helen Jackson, Scoop’s widow, by conceiving of and creating the Jackson Foundation to carry on Scoop’s work as well as we could. The man behind the scenes, Bill wanted the Foundation to succeed and happily gave the credit to others for those successes.

A look backward – over 20 years ago, Lara and Bill

We will miss Bill, for his contributions to the Jackson Foundation and to the Jackson legacy. And we will miss his close attention to what matters most in life: family, loyalty, friends, colleagues, and good values.

You did good, Bill.


Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Passing the torch to new Jackson ambassadors

One of the less obvious reasons for starting the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program was selfish on our part: we hoped to generate interest in a new generation of Puget Sound-based professionals in serving on the Jackson Foundation Board. This would be a way, we believed, we could continue the legacy of Senator Jackson once those on our Board, who knew him well, stepped down. Teaching others about Jackson’s principles and values ensured that the Foundation would always have eager, enthusiastic Board members willing to step up and hold up the Jackson banner.

Well, it worked. We are proud to be welcoming our first class of new Program Committee members to our ranks, in the form of three of our Fellows: Radha Friedman, Nora Ferm Nickum, and Alex Adams. The Program Committee is where the substantive work of the Foundation is housed: it is the committee that reviews the grants and programs put forward by staff, provides a mandate for strategies and tactics as to how to be most effective, and recommends to the Executive Committee proposals to be funded. In short, it is a perfect starting place for these three, highly professional and expert young leaders.

Radha is the Director of Programs at the World Justice Project, where she leads a portfolio of pilot programs in 60 countries to advance the rule of law. She is deeply committed to human rights and women’s rights. She is also active with the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and the Northwest Donor Exchange, so she will hit the ground running in her new role as a Program Committee member. About this opportunity, Radha says: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue my connection to the Foundation through the Program Committee, and to learn more about the projects and programs supported by the Foundation, which represent the legacy and spirit of Senator Jackson.”

Alex currently works for the King County Department of Transportation Director’s Office as Climate Change and Energy Program Manager, seeking to implement greenhouse gas reduction strategies identified in King County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan. Alex is well-versed in climate issues as they relate to the Pacific Northwest, which will aid the Foundation in its work on climate and national security and in finding effective ways to use the Foundation’s resources on climate concerns in general. Alex has also worked extensively with students of all ages in his previous work as a boat captain, leading semester-long ocean education trips aboard tall sailing ships in the waters between Nova Scotia and Trinidad. Given the Foundation’s commitment to public service, he will contribute an important perspective.

Finally, Nora, who is a Senior Associate at Cascadia Consulting Group, also is fluent in climate change and natural resources planning issues. She works with cities, tribes and foundations, focusing on stakeholder engagement, evaluation and communications. Nora previously spent five years as a Senior Climate Adaptation Specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, so Nora is well-poised not only to provide guidance and expertise to the Program Committee on climate, but also brings an international perspective that will inform us in our work in international affairs education and human rights. Nora says: “I really value the opportunity to be part of the Program Committee. I see it as a way to deepen my engagement with the Foundation after a really rewarding fellowship experience, learn more about philanthropic decision-making, and contribute my own expertise in national and international climate change policy.”

We are delighted that these Jackson Leadership Fellows have joined the ranks of the Foundation’s governance on the Program Committee.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Key skills for an international affairs career in the 21st century

In late October, over 70 U.S. government, international affairs schools, students and alumni and other foreign policy and foreign language practitioners gathered in Washington D.C. for a conference on “International Affairs Careers in the 21st Century”. We worked with the Jackson School and the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) to produce this event.

Panelists included senior-level representatives from the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Trade Representative, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, George Washington University Elliot School of Public Affairs, Chemonics International, University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and the Woodrow Wilson Center.

A number of Jackson School alumni served on the panel, including Colonel Mark Barlow (M.A. International Studies, 2006) and Shauna Aron Caria (B.A. International Studies, 2007), along with Jackson School Professor Mary Callahan, Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba and Director of the M.A. in Applied International Studies Jennifer Butte-Dahl.

I enjoyed moderating a panel featuring policy and academic experts, all of whom had received an international affairs degree several years previously, and who have been able to use that degree in their government and public policy careers. Since I fit into that category myself (University of Washington B.A. Russian Studies, 1982), I also provided my two cents to the crowd, many of whom were just starting out in their fields.

Three panel discussions focused on the following topics:

1) U.S. government international affairs careers, which focused on how work expectations and preferred skills sets of U.S. government agencies may be changing in our times, gaps and opportunities for students to find a job in government, and what should Area Studies Schools should be teaching to prepare students for future careers, with each panelist also describing the classes that helped them the most and situational examples to describe the type of skills needed.

2) Private sector, foundation and nongovernmental organizations careers using area studies expertise examined the value of deep knowledge of area studies, especially “history and context,” what types of technical skills are useful in the field, and tips on entering international development and other global policy careers outside of a government job.

3) How international affairs schools are creating 21st century global leaders and experts highlighted what schools themselves are doing to marry the real world and academia, from soft skills courses to external client research projects to technology literacy and more, and views of what the next generation of area studies will look like and new disciplines to be incorporated into curriculum, such as science.

Top 10 takeaways of skill sets for international affairs careers in the 21st century:

  1. A multidisciplinary approach matters, to quickly find a niche on the team rather than specializing too narrowly. One example given: specializing only in Chinese studies will not help you when assigned to stamp visas in Mexico. You need to understand not just a country, but the regional and global perspectives to an issue and potential policy impacts.
  2. Ability to communicate effectively, including knowing your audience and conveying information to different kinds of people, such as framing what you want to say according to their level of knowledge, their policy objectives and their perspectives. “You need to think about how other people think about things, in a culturally appropriate way,” said one of the panelists, a senior-level career Foreign Service Officer.
  3. Clear and concise writing. Those in government roles particularly stressed the writing norm in their work as “1-2 pages maximum with key points that someone can quickly digest” while in intelligence analysis often the policy brief is only eight lines. All panelists emphasized that knowing how to write well is critical for a career in international affairs.
  4. Area studies and a foreign language combined with technical skills, such as resource management or public health, are viewed as highly useful, with history and context as key to developing policy or international development responses. They noted what they’re hearing from employers is that this combination of skills, with “foreign language a constant” are increasingly more valuable than a generic MBA.
  5. Program management, including strategic or operational planning, are integral to an international affairs career. While such planning tactics are embedded into military training, non-military personnel often lack strategic planning skills, such as defining starting goals, developing milestones, and creating targeted activities to reach those goals.
  6. Be proficient in technology and IT, from Excel mastery to social media, and be ready to apply these to program work.
  7. Become science literate. With climate change projected to be the biggest factor for U.S. foreign policy, as well as issues like cybersecurity, geoscience and artificial intelligence, expand undergraduate and graduate international affairs classes to include STEM-related classes.
  8. At some point, work in international affairs in D.C. or another major hub of international affairs activities to better understand how policy is made, with many agencies and organizations offering on-the-job training, such as contracts management.
  9. Negotiation and consensus-building tactical skills. As Department of Defense Panelist Colonel Mark Barlow said “You are always in negotiation, whether with OSCE member states (i.e., other governments), partners or other organizations.”
  10. Embed in a culture. All the panelists encouraged international affairs students to get first-hand experience in another culture. One of the panelists currently working for Chemonics International emphasized she discovered her passion for restorative justice and human rights — an area she had not considered before — thanks to studying in South Africa for six months while as an undergraduate student.

Thanks to Monique Thormann, Director of Communication at the Jackson School of International Studies, for her observations of the event.  As you can see, there was a lot of practical advice for new grads, as well as plenty of food for thought for the deans and directors of the schools of international affairs in the room. Kudos to the Jackson School for pulling together an impressive and useful day.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Putting Human Rights First

The Foundation was fortunate to host a dynamic speaker straight from the turmoil of Washington, DC this week, with several events featuring Rob Berschinski, Senior Vice President for Policy at Human Rights First, one of the Foundation’s grantees. Rob was most recently serving in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He previously served under Ambassador Samantha Power at the UN.

Current and alumni Fellows Engage with Rob Berschinski

Rob spoke with our Jackson Fellows about his unusual career path, which began as an intelligence officer in the Air Force and subsequently an Iraq War veteran. He came to understand the U.S. role in human rights as integral to America’s national security and fundamental values, a position close to the heart of the Jackson legacy. He spoke to the Fellows of wanting to make a difference in that arena and finding policy making in Washington as the outlet for his convictions. The young professionals were particularly interested as to how Rob tries to be effective in a polarized political environment. In Human Rights First he found an organization – and a role – where he can champion a bipartisan, reasonably centrist viewpoint, crossing both sides of the aisle, “working with folks on a quiet basis.” He acknowledged the challenges: “This is the most fractured U.S. foreign policy in recent memory,” he said.

The Traditional Group Shot with the Fellows

Rob and I also had a discussion in partnership with the World Affairs Council, to a packed room of interested community members, students and retired military leaders. Russia came up a lot — both with the current focus on Russia’s role in Europe and the United States, stirring up trouble and meddling in elections, but also with the influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin on other right-wing leaning states in Europe and elsewhere. “He is empowering and supporting other strongmen who are modeling themselves after him,” Rob said.

The Jackson Foundation and Human Rights First have been working together for several years to bring attention to Russia’s negative influence on a democratic Europe and its efforts to rile up social and political divisions in our own country, something of which we are now well aware. “Russia’s weaponized info-war – disinformation and hate speech – is undercutting values that we thought were well-established in post-War Europe,” he warned.

The Trump Administration, the enfeebled and demoralized State Department, and the lack of American political leadership also came up often, particularly in the questions Rob fielded throughout his two days in Seattle. “This administration doesn’t place a premium on diplomacy,” he lamented.

Rob speaks with students and faculty at the Jackson School

We are grateful that Rob could also meet with students and faculty at the University’s Jackson School, where despite being the first week of classes, the audience was eager to get an overview of pressing human rights concerns such as the Rohingya Muslims killings in Burma and the ensuing refugee crisis, the Saudi bombing in Yemen, and the many other hotspots and humanitarian flashpoints that crowd today’s front pages. In all his appearances, the question of human rights at home came up again and again.

Rob acknowledged a growing activism at the state and local level and urged his audiences, young and old, to stay engaged and committed to American democratic values. “The world has always looked to us for leadership,” he concluded. Let us hope that will continue in these challenging times.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director