Monthly Archives: April 2018

Washington State Attorney General Provides Leadership Tips to Jackson Fellows

When you decide to go into public service, you don’t usually expect a lot of glory. Particularly if you’re running for state attorney general. But fame and attention have caught up with Washington State’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, who recently sat down with our Jackson Leadership Fellows to talk about making tough decisions as a leader, learning from past failures and mistakes, and having empathy and understanding for your opponent’s position.

Why such acclaim for Attorney General Ferguson, who retains a good-guy, low-key and approachable persona despite being the focus of numerous hero stories? Ferguson has made Washington State one of the battlegrounds for court cases challenging the current Administration, most notably regarding the Muslim-ban for several countries directed by President Trump. Ferguson talked to the Fellows about the need to reach decisions quickly, even when one would prefer to have more time to sift through pros and cons. “Most of the time in leadership you’ll need to make hard and fast decisions,” Ferguson advised the Fellows. “You better get comfortable with it.” The Attorney General, who spent his young adult years as a chess champion, tends to see challenges through a chess prism. “Assess your losses first,” he counseled. “Be objective about your mistakes and learn from your defeats.”

Ferguson also places ethics at the top of his list of key leadership qualities. “Pay attention to your behavior;  your team is watching you,” he warned the Fellows. Character counts, he said. He emphasized, “There are clear lines to delineate right and wrong,” something that drives him as a politician and as a public servant. “Trust your instincts,” he stressed.

In conclusion, Ferguson urged the young Fellows to consider public service – be it full-time or part-time careers – as a valuable path in life. He was drawn to it in order to help people.

2018 Fellows with Attorney General Ferguson from left: Stephanie Celt, Stephen Robinson, Arianna Muirow, Joe Nguyen, Jeremy Wood, Danielle Granatt, and Christina Sciabarra

The Jackson Fellows were rapt as Ferguson discussed leadership challenges. They understood and valued his perspective on current political affairs. We are grateful to the Attorney General for sharing his views with our Fellows. He has sat down with every cohort of our program!

I think it’s fair to conclude that Bob Ferguson has used his public life well to date, and we can expect much more from him. He is truly a leader in the Jackson tradition.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

Fighting for our Nation’s Environmental Protections

A few weeks ago, the Foundation was fortunate to bring to town Ruth Greenspan Bell, the President of the Environmental Protection Network (EPN), to talk to members of our community, our board, and our Fellows about her work. The Jackson Foundation also partnered with the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation to draw in other area funders to learn about her organization.  EPN harnesses the expertise of former career EPA staff – spanning both Republican and Democratic Administrations – to defend against the degradation of over 50 years of environmental legislation spearheaded by the Environmental Protection Agency. These experts are volunteering their time to serve as resources for reporters, Congressional staffers, and the community.

What do they do, exactly? Well, they answer questions on everything from environmental science to legal concerns, seeking to counter the drumbeat of anti-environmental regulation that has characterized this political period. They monitor developments and provide information based on the collective body of experience and institutional knowledge of the EPA; track EPA and Executive Branch regulatory and enforcement actions to ensure that they do not impair air, water, land, and public health protections; and monitor EPA’s legal obligations to state and federal enforcement of existing protections.

Ruth Bell has been the prime mover in setting up this network. Simply stated, her goal and that of EPN’s is to continue to advance our nation’s bipartisan legacy of progress toward clean air, water, and land and climate protection.  She explained, “We are not a shadow EPA, but we can be a voice for EPA because EPN is not muzzled . . . no one is answering the phone at EPA anymore.  EPN helps fill that void.”

Ruth Greenspan Bell (center) talks to our Jackson Fellows.

The Jackson Foundation, in learning of the broad spectrum of career environmental staffers engaged in this endeavor, saw this as commensurate with the Jackson legacy: first, with Jackson as one of the principal authors of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and second, with Jackson’s long record of environmental legislation.

Why now? There has been alarm at the pace of efforts to diminish and in some cases destroy decades of environmental protection that is underway in Washington, DC. The environmental community – and the public as well – have raised concerns. EPN fights for the values that Americans hold dear, including the clean air and water that we have come to rely on locally and nationally.

We applaud EPN’s efforts to draw attention to the important legislative achievements of the last several decades. It was instructive to have Ruth here to shine a light on the national efforts of career federal employees of the EPA who care enough about their work to continue to do it on a volunteer basis even after they have left the agency they served. Our Jackson Fellows, in particular, were inspired by Ruth’s commitment to continuing the environmental work she started in her many years at the EPA. Given this, the Jackson Foundation’s Board just approved a grant to EPN in the amount of $20,000 to help bolster its efforts to protect the environment.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director