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.
As part of our commitment to the Jackson Leadership Fellows program, we remain engaged with the alumni of the program and we intend to keep up that engagement in the years ahead. All of our Fellows — past and present — are in a particularly vibrant moment of their careers. They are changing jobs, they are trying new directions, they are getting promoted, and they are seeking new challenges and ways to make an impact in our communities. As part of a continuing series of guest blogs, we asked Tamara Power-Drutis, a 2016 Fellow, if she could reflect on her own recent journey from Executive Director at Crosscut Public Media to her new position as Chief of Staff at Amplifier. We’re excited to learn from Tamara what she has taken from the Fellowship year that helps her in this challenging new job. She shares her personal reflections on this career shift below.
After being immersed in grassroots organizing for most of my life, several years ago I took a step away to approach change from a different angle. While activism gave me a sense of community and connection to like-minded individuals, it was the different-minded individuals I lacked a connection to.
I rarely saw the peace and justice movement cross ideological or political lines to engage in dialogue. That meant that when we did cross lines, the discussions often devolved into regurgitation of party lines and lofty platitudes rather than an open consideration of a different point of view. Difference of opinion was something to fear or fix rather than an opportunity to build a more informed solution. For my part, I became aware that I lacked the fundamental skills to engage in civil dialogue, and set out to have what became some of the most uncomfortable and necessary conversations of my life.
While serving as the Executive Director of Crosscut Public Media — a Seattle nonprofit newsroom that aims to inform a public capable of solving the challenges of our time — I gained access to countless perspectives different from my own. They challenged my world-view, forced me to question my assumptions, and ultimately improved any solutions I became a part of. It was through this role that I became an inaugural Henry M. Jackson Foundation Fellow, an opportunity that continues to have a profoundly positive impact on my life.
Beyond providing tangible tools and strategies to engage in dialogue and enact change, this fellowship connected me to a deeply-rooted network of leaders across sectors that I will collaborate with for the rest of my career. After the 2016 election, it was this cohort that I turned to for processing, problem-solving, and hope.
Like countless others, when I woke up on November 9, 2016, the path laid before my feet had shifted overnight. The system was finally changing. But rather than a shift toward equity, livable wages, reparations, or aggressive climate security, this shift was a plausible prologue to every dystopian novel I’ve read.
Resistance was, and remains, necessary. But I worried that traditional activism wasn’t open or pragmatic enough to pave the way. Luckily for me, quite a few people were ahead of me on the road to reinventing it. It didn’t take long for the skepticism to be wiped from my face when I showed up to the Women’s March in Seattle. This was something new. This was a movement with open doors.
The way I found myself working at Amplifier — an experiment that provides visual tools to help movements reach beyond their core audiences to engage the broader mainstream — is the same story I’ve heard echoed from others on the team: I felt drawn in, as though a magnet were pulling me. While messages of bigotry and hate were being shouted from the highest office in our land, around every corner I saw images of hope. They called for us to be greater than fear, to defend dignity, to protect each other and be resilient and indivisible. I didn’t know the people behind this barrage of positive propaganda, but I carried them with me as I marched through the streets once again, and shortly thereafter signed on as their Chief of Staff.
I’m grateful to have an excuse to spend my days with a team attempting to reshape the American narrative and to refill the reserve of ideas and inspiration that fuel action. Every day at Amplifier I have opportunities to apply the skills, methods, and perspective I gained at Crosscut and as a Jackson Fellow.
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation is currently accepting applications for its third cohort, all of whom I look forward to partnering with in the coming years. While the program only accepts a handful of fellows each year, the Foundation continues to expand its programming and trainings to enable the kind of inquisitive, open, and honest conversations that are so necessary today.
We’re very pleased to highlight a guest blog today from Nora Ferm Nickum, a 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow, about her project this year. Her work emphasizes the importance of climate action in the Pacific Northwest and what businesses can do to seize the initiative. -Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director
Climate change is a massive challenge that requires public policy answers at all levels of government, but also widespread action by the private sector and within our communities. For my Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellow project, I sought to learn about how businesses here in the Seattle area are helping to tackle this challenge. I interviewed ten businesses across a range of industries, from retail and recreation to construction and health care. Throughout, there was a common thread that climate change action is not only a necessity, but also an opportunity. Steps that reduce emissions can save costs, attract customers, and demonstrate leadership.
I heard stories from businesses that are leading change in their industries. For example, Fremont Brewing pilot-tested a biodigester that turns its spent grain into methane and then electricity. There are systems like that available for very large established breweries, but not small ones. Fremont’s goal is to show that it is feasible—and that there is demand—so that manufacturers will recognize the market opportunity and create systems that can work for smaller breweries.
Meanwhile, Sellen Construction worked with a local concrete supplier to figure out the carbon content of more than 80 types of concrete, so that they could choose lower-carbon options in their projects. They made this information freely available so that other companies can also make informed choices and lower their impact.
Virginia Mason learned that the use of just one kind of inhaled anesthesia—desflurane gas—was alone responsible for nearly 5% of the hospital system’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Using desflurane for one hour of surgery has been estimated to have the same climate change impact as driving a car for as much as 470 miles. The anesthesiology team determined last year that outside of a few neurological cases, alternatives could be used that cost the same, provided the same benefits for patients, and had a lower environmental impact. Now, this kind of anesthesia is used 90% less often at Virginia Mason than it was before.
Additional stories—about innovative steps being taken by companies like Boeing, NBBJ, and Microsoft—can be found in the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Bright Green in an Emerald City report released last fall.
Senator Jackson was a pragmatist and a problem-solver. He cared about the environment—he played a leading role in the conservation and energy legislation in the 1960s and 1970s—and he also sought to promote economic development in our state. He recognized that those goals need not be contradictory. Washington businesses can learn from his vision and legacy, and from the actions being taken by businesses—like those highlighted here—who recognize that there is a business case for climate change action, and plenty of room for innovation to expand the solution set. I appreciate having had the opportunity through this leadership fellowship to explore this issue more deeply.
Nora Ferm Nickum is a 2017 Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellow and a Senior Associate at Cascadia Consulting Group.
Lukas Haynes, Executive Director of The David Rockefeller Fund, recently spent two days in Seattle at the Jackson Foundation’s invitation to speak to the community about climate security – the intersection of climate concerns with national security. This issue, which the Jackson Foundation has been working on for several years, has gained national attention due to climate-related conflicts and international events like the Syrian civil war and the desperate water shortage in Yemen. The David Rockefeller Fund and the Jackson Foundation share a mission to place climate security on the agenda of policymakers as well as other philanthropic partners. Lukas Haynes generously gave his time to this cause in a packed visit here. We featured him at a private breakfast with both classes of our Jackson Leadership Fellows, at a learning lunch for our Board of Governors, with graduate students at the University of Washington, and before a capacity crowd in partnership with the World Affairs Council.
The Jackson Leadership Fellows, many of whom feel passionately about climate policy, were interested to hear about Lukas’ journey toward his focus on climate security. With a background in international relations and experience on Madeleine Albright’s speechwriting team on the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, Lukas made the connection early on between national security and climate change and its impact on people and nations. He has long advocated using the military’s voice to gain the attention of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, a strategy that the Jackson Foundation also utilizes. “This is THE key bipartisan issue,” he said. Lukas urged the Jackson Fellows to step forward on these issues as well as others they are committed to, “Don’t wait for your seat at the table; we need your leadership now.”
To a broader audience assembled for a panel discussion on climate security, the Foundation and the World Affairs Council highlighted the consequences for our nation and the world of the issue. Craig Gannett, Foundation Vice President, moderated a panel that included Lukas Haynes, Vice Admiral (ret.) Robert Parker, United States Coast Guard, and scientist Ian Kraucunas of Pacific Northwest National Labs. Craig asked the panel to address how connecting the dots between climate and national security has the potential to impact the arc of this debate, bring in a new audience, and help shape policy. Lukas emphasized that “the more one spends time learning about the implications of a changing climate on national and homeland security, the more urgent it becomes to develop appropriate policy at a local, state, and national level – both near term and over the horizon.” Admiral Parker agreed, noting that there was substantial research and science that has been compiled both in the civil sector and in the military as to the climate security nexus, but “the work done regarding climate change and its impact within military intelligence has not been shared and disseminated well because of the politicization of this area.”
The politics of climate and climate security were an ever-present backdrop to the two days of discussion. Craig Gannett voiced guarded optimism that movement at the “sub-national” level – such as the Pacific Coast Collaborative efforts by Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia to unify and play a leading role despite happenings at the federal level – provides some hope to move us forward. Admiral Parker added that despite whatever obstacles to progress exist, “the awakening of citizens is a silver-plated lining. We have an obligation as citizens to learn.”
The Jackson Foundation emerged from two days of intensive discussions on this issue reenergized and dedicated to continue to target its resources to highlight climate and national security connections – a topic squarely within the Jackson environmental and defense legacies.
In recognition of Larry Phillips’ leadership on growth management, natural resource protection, water quality, transportation, and climate change, the Foundation created the Jackson Leadership Fellows – Larry Phillips Fund for Climate Change and the Environment. The fund supports Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellows with an interest in fostering bipartisan solutions in the fields of climate change and the environment, reflecting issues of significance that defined Larry Phillip’s career in public service. We’re pleased that we can further support the goals and objectives of the Jackson Fellows through this fund tied to climate and the environment.
Last year we awarded funds to two of our Jackson Leadership Fellows, Laura Stewart and Tamara Power-Drutis. As part of her project, Laura developed a video that captured the issues and interests of under-represented voices in Seattle’s climate and environmental justice sector. Building on the video’s success, Tamara (Crosscut Media) and Laura will use the funds to broaden the video’s audience utilizing Crosscut Media’s 1.2 million readers, KCTS 9 broadcasting, and ethnic media partners in a series of follow-up interviews and articles.
This year we’ll provide funds to three of our 2017 Fellows – Alex Adams, Connor Birkeland, and Amarpreet Sethi. Alex received $500 to attend the Green Transportation Summit and Expo (GTSE), which is the region’s premier fleet modernization and alternative fuels event. This conference’s focus on alternative fuels and wide variety of vehicle types will help expand his knowledge and understanding of the quickly changing electric vehicle and fuel markets in the Pacific Northwest. From attending last year’s conference, he was able to develop an alternative fuel calculator to show emissions resulting from fuel choices, which led King County Metro Transit to transition to 5% locally sourced biodiesel.
A $500 award to Connor will support his travel to California to learn about clean energy financing models tied to property there and apply them in Washington State. His Jackson Leadership Fellows’ project focuses on Property Assessed Clean Energy as a financing model for low- to medium-income individuals. Currently Washington State lacks renewable-energy financing programs for those with lower incomes, despite the fact that installing residential renewable energy systems would allow for less-costly energy bills.
Amarpreet received $500 to attend a conference organized by the German Chamber of Commerce that relates to her project, which looks at buildings that are developed with the health and well-being of their occupants in mind. Amarpreet is researching European examples and will showcase practical ways to develop top-performing buildings in the U.S. that meet a higher standard of health and well-being for the users. The purpose of the research is to inspire developers to think differently, to begin setting higher goals and values for energy performance, and to consider the impact the building has on the user’s health.
Our Fellows are making connections in their communities, in other states and regions, and even internationally to help them do their work — and improve our society. The Fellows program is designed to support them — through mentorship, networking, training, and by providing additional opportunities to dig into their areas of interest. We believe that the Jackson/Phillips Fund is one important way of enhancing the Fellows’ experience. Learn more about the Jackson Fellows and the Jackson Fellows/Phillips Fund.
The Jackson Leadership Fellows program is having an impact that goes beyond our individual Fellows. We’ve written about this before, but it keeps becoming clearer – our Fellows are reaching out to others, younger generations, new communities, and audiences. Two great examples in the last few weeks:
The North Cascades Institute held a Youth Leadership Summit in October that the Jackson Foundation has helped to support for the past few years. The Summit, held at the Mountaineers Seattle Program Center, brought together young participants in NCI’s programming for a day-long, intensive program highlighting new skills and connections for students. This year, 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows Michele Frix, Matthew Combe, Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, and 2017 Fellows Alex Adams and Connor Birkeland worked together to lead two sessions for high school students on leadership skills and career development. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave a surprise visit at the start of the day. The Foundation is pleased that our Jackson Fellows are reaching out to these young environmental leaders and providing models of community engagement.
Both the current and alumni Fellows enjoyed the event. Michele Frix summed up the experience with the enthusiasm characteristic of our Jackson Fellows:
“It was truly a highlight of the year. I keep the Scoop Legacy book on my desk – a marked up copy where I have notes to myself on how his leadership style plays out in my day to day work. I have been going back to it more frequently as of late, to remind myself of what a servant leader looks, sounds and acts like. Sometimes when things gets busy, chaotic and challenging, it’s easy to revert back to a less thoughtful style of leadership. I have these little “WWSD” moments – what would Scoop do? And now after learning so much from the other fellows, these moments are often – what would other Scoop Troops do? The session we did with the young leaders was a poignant reminder of why I want to show up like a servant leader – every day, every moment, regardless of how challenging work gets.”
And in late October, the Holocaust Center for Humanity, an organization that has received several grants from the Jackson Foundation, held its annual luncheon to raise support for the excellent educational programs that it provides to students and the community. One of our 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows, Ilana Cone Kennedy, works as the Director of Education at the Holocaust Center. Her Fellows’ project consisted of the creation of a Student Leadership Board, comprised of 30 high school students, who are now working closely with the Holocaust Center to reach other young people throughout the community.
The big annual fundraiser featured several of these young Student Leadership Board members and their stories of how they had been moved to action by their engagement with the Holocaust Center under Ilana’s educational programming. It was inspiring to see so many of these young people talking about the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust to them as they confront news stories about Syrian refugees, genocide in Sudan, and other modern challenges with historical resonance. When Ilana conceived of the Student Leadership Board, she wanted to convey lessons about leadership that had inspired her in the Jackson Leadership Fellows program.
We are proud that the Jackson Leadership Fellows are reaching out to new audiences, doubling and tripling the impact of this important program.
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.”