I’ve just had the privilege to spend three days with our cohort of Jackson Leadership Fellows as they attended meetings in Washington, DC, as part of the culmination of their program. What an experience! As Board President John Hempelmann and Board member Susan Wickwire, who accompanied the group, agreed, this was a much-needed antidote to the political blues and skepticism that have infected many of us in this gridlocked and polarized time. The optimism, engagement, and commitment of this extraordinary cadre of young leaders – from 26 – 40 years old – provide a reason to embrace the future of our communities and our nation with a degree of hope.
The Fellows, who have been meeting monthly and receiving professional guidance and leadership training from an array of experts here in the Northwest, went to Washington to showcase their talents, introduce the program to other young people – in this case a packed room full of Washington DC interns – and meet the Washington Congressional Delegation, among other meetings.
The jam-packed agenda included a private discussion with four Members of the House of Representatives from Washington State, who candidly shared their thoughts of current political developments with the Fellows and took their questions, and both of Washington’s powerful senators, who took the time to get to know our Fellows and the work they are doing back here in Puget Sound.
The Fellows were also exposed to two panels featuring long-time public servants discussing their work in Washington, DC, their ability to work across changing political administrations, and their reasons for choosing public service as a career.
Along the lines of discussing public service, one of the highlights of the trip was a half-day at the Wilson Center which featured two different dialogues about the challenge of careers in government and public service that shone a spotlight on the Fellows and the insights that they shared.
Overall the trip was a substantive way to bring the 2017 Fellows Program to a close — and a wonderful way for us to bond with our extraordinary young ambassadors for the Jackson legacy.
Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director