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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
Program Manager for the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program