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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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!
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Continuing 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.”
The Fellows deeply appreciated the opportunity to engage with a leader like Attorney General Ferguson.
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.
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. “
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?
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.”
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.”
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.
I had the privilege this week of attending the first screening of a remarkable film made by two young people, Laura Stewart and Julian Kane. Laura is one of our Jackson Leadership Fellows, and the film was her project for the Fellowship. Julian is a graduate student at Antioch University. The film, “Our Story: Climate Justice and Environmental Justice,” showcased over twenty people from our community here in Puget Sound, voices that are not often heard in the debate and discourse on climate and the environment. Laura’s intent in creating the film was to bring to the front of the table those communities disproportionately impacted by climate. She interviewed leaders and activists at environmental, labor, and educational organizations who collectively raised the climate justice flag and conveyed a deep sense of urgency. Laura and Julian were both brimming with enthusiasm and pride – as they should be – for the film that they created, for the stories they illuminated, for the discussion that their work engendered. “We are two young people of color, and we just did it,” Laura proclaimed.
The film is inspiring, in part because it is made by and gives a megaphone to many young people, often people of color, finding allies in their efforts to save the planet from climate warming. It is also a call to action for all of us who want to see communities of color empowered. Short interviews in the film include Running Grass, from the Three Circles Center, Jourdan Imani Keith, from the Urban Wilderness Project, Aiko Schaefer with Front and Centered (Communities of Color for Climate Justice), and Sudha Nandagopal, from the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment.
Roger-Mark De Souza, an expert on democracy, environmental security, climate and international development, and a frequent Jackson Foundation partner through his role at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., moderated a lively and thoughtful discussion with those present. “What side of history do you want to be on?” one of the participants asked the film audience. “We have an obligation to chart a cleaner future” for ourselves and our children, another argued. The film also stimulated a broader dialogue about privilege, elites, and diversity. Audience members felt the film should be seen widely, and Laura agrees. She is urging people to share it on social media and take ownership of it so it can be viewed as much as possible. There is also talk of a lesson plan, as early viewers felt that the film speaks in an accessible manner for young students.
We are proud of our Jackson Fellow Laura Stewart – she has made a film that will get people talking, and acting, on climate justice. Congratulations!
Anna Marie Jackson Laurence and I were fortunate to participate in the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s Student Leadership Board meeting last week. Anna Marie, Senator Jackson’s daughter and an officer of the Foundation, and I spoke to the group of 7th – 11th graders about Senator Jackson’s human rights legacy and achievements and why Senator Jackson was so committed to international human rights, an interest that stemmed in part from Jackson’s post-war visit to the just-liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.
Our discussion with the young people touched on Jackson’s role in the Soviet Jewry movement and the passage of the historic Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which allowed over a million Russian Jews a to leave the USSR and other Eastern Bloc countries. We also engaged them in a conversation about leadership, distributing copies of “The Nature of Leadership,” a publication that showcases Jackson’s leadership qualities and brings them into focus for today’s younger generations.
The Student Leadership Board is a new creation of the Holocaust Center for Humanity. It is the Fellowship project of Ilana Cone Kennedy, one of this year’s Jackson Leadership Fellows. Ilana is being co-mentored by Anna Marie and me. Ilana wanted to replicate some of the experiences she is having as a Jackson Leadership Fellow and create a youth board where high school students could work as a team, and as individuals, on leadership as well as issues related to the Holocaust Center, and spread the word to their very diverse schools throughout the region. Here’s how Ilana described the origins of her project:
“In January 2015, the Holocaust Center expanded to a much larger space. For the first time we could host meetings and events on site, we could display artifacts, and invite student groups. We realized that while we had great input from teachers, we lacked the direct input from students. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that this was a huge piece that we were missing – we were not hearing in any structured way from the very people we wanted most to reach. The Jackson Leadership Fellowship program served as an excellent model for a meaningful program that could be replicated with students.”
Ilana initially thought she’d create a small group experience – but couldn’t resist the thirty young people who applied to be part of the Student Leadership Board, so she accepted them all! They range from 13-17 years old, but come together in their caring about the issues that the Holocaust Center focuses on – including learning more about the Holocaust, human rights, and genocide. The board is meeting monthly, and students will have the opportunity to meet with community leaders, provide feedback to the Center on its programs, and serve as junior ambassadors to their schools and communities.
Anna Marie and I were impressed with the scope of interests of the students – working on projects such as video promotions of the Center; data collection on the Armenian genocide; speaking to their classmates about the Center; and making posters and other graphic materials to illustrate the work of the Center for their peers.
The Jackson Foundation and the World Affairs Council of Seattle convened a high-level conversation with Ambassador Valeriy Chaly, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States before a packed room in downtown Seattle last week. I had the opportunity to moderate the session with the Ambassador, who was forthcoming about Ukraine’s challenges – both domestic and international – over the next several months. This conversation took place with the backdrop of Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, an act that provoked an unusually unified response from the U.S. and its European allies in the form of sanctions against Russia. Russia also has started an ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine that has left 10,000 Ukrainians dead and over a million more displaced from their homes.
Given that Ukraine is facing enormous economic hardship and financial crisis in the midst of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Ambassador was particularly appreciative of recent, high-level meetings that he had held with U.S. officials in Washington, DC about Ukraine as well as Russia. Russia has played an aggressive, destabilizing role in current Ukraine affairs, apart from its role in bringing in arms and mercenaries to push for a separatist movement in Eastern Ukraine and the seizure of Crimea. “Ukraine was faced with the choice of two partners when it became independent from the USSR. Now the choice is only one – the United States. Russia no longer provides an opportunity for partnership,” the Ambassador said.
Ambassador Chaly expressed his gratitude to the U.S. for its standing by Ukraine during this period, although he felt that the U.S. “did not have a vision as to where Ukraine fits within its foreign policy moving forward.” This perhaps reflects the complex relationship with Russia and the West, and the role Moscow can still play in negotiations with Syria in particular.
Ambassador Chaly was optimistic when talking about the eventual decisions faced by European Union countries as to whether or not to continue sanctions against Russia. “The Europeans continue to be supportive of Ukraine and I fully expect them to vote to keep the sanctions in place,” he predicted, in response to a question which noted that some European leaders have seemed anxious to resolve the sanctions issue for their own economic and political benefit. “The European Union is also a critical partner to Ukraine at this moment,” he said.
The conversation also touched on the recent resignation of Ukraine’s finance minister, who specifically called out what he saw as the corruption endemic to the political and economic circles at the highest levels in Ukraine. “It is not about a single person, whether he resigns or not,” Ambassador Chaly contended, noting that Ukraine has established a new anti-corruption bureau in recent days. While European and U.S. observers are alarmed over this new development, wondering what to make of Ukraine’s commitment to reform, the Ambassador was unruffled. “We have long-term goals and a long-term struggle,” he concluded.
He noted that he had come to Seattle in part to meet with Boeing and Microsoft executives, and also, as a reflection of the more than 60,000 Ukrainian immigrants who currently reside in the state. In meetings with the Seattle Mayor, a possible sister-to-sister relationship with Lviv, Ukraine and Seattle was even discussed. The interest in Ukraine was reflected in the intense audience questions which followed the formal conversation.