Category Archives: Jackson Leadership Fellows

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

Jackson Fellows Go To Olympia

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.

From left to right: Andrew Lewis, Board President John Hempelmann, Michele Frix, Danielle Granatt, Matthew Combe, Joe Nguyen, Christina Sciabarra, Arianna Muirow, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Brandon Hersey at the State Capitol.

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.

Rep. Gael Tarleton addresses the group. A formal picture and fun selfie followed!
From left to right: Andrew Lewis, Michele Frix, Christina Sciabarra, Joe Nguyen, Arianna Muirow, Matthew Combe, Stephanie Celt, Representative Gael Tarleton, Danielle Granatt, Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, John Hempelmann, Fellows Program Manager Carol Vipperman, and Brandon Hersey.

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.”

Senator Zeiger, center, also a Jackson Fellow 2017, meets with the Fellows. Pictured are 2018 Fellows Arianna Muirow and Joe Nguyen.

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.

From left to right: Christina Sciabarra, Tamara Power-Drutis, Arianna Muirow, Matthew Combe, Danielle Granatt, Brandon Hersey, Senator Hans Zeiger, Andrew Lewis, Stephanie Celt, Michele Frix, Joe Nguyen, John Hempelmann, and Carol Vipperman.
The Fellows walked across the State Campus to meet with Washington State Public Lands Commissioner, Hilary Franz.  Photo credit: Joe Nguyen
Commissioner Hilary Franz and John Hempelmann. Photo credit: Joe Nguyen

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!

Carol Vipperman

Program Manager for the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program

Jackson Fellow Works on Workforce Equity

The Jackson Foundation occasionally asks one of the Jackson Leadership Fellows to contribute a blog about their own projects and activities, inspired in part by their work during the Fellowship year. Today’s blog is by 2017 Fellow Alyssa Patrick, who has been engaged in an innovative effort to improve workplace equity right here in Puget Sound. 

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

In 2014, I moved to Seattle and unintentionally placed myself between the dichotomous outcomes of the city’s economic boom. Through my job in university economic development I saw the signs of prosperity – new business, new job opportunities, new and young residents. Through my volunteer experience in Big Brothers, Big Sisters, however, I saw how the growth exacerbated already existing wealth and racial disparities. Seeing these challenges sparked my interest in a career in public service, and in particular how to develop long-term solutions to complex problems. Senator Jackson’s legacy of that approach drew me to apply to the Leadership Fellowship. Becoming a Fellow gave me my first lessons in public service, and provided me an opportunity to start exploring the programs, partnerships and investments needed to equitably disperse Seattle and King County’s prosperity.

The role of workforce in equitable economic development

My exploration focused on regional workforce development. Access to Seattle’s high demand jobs requires access to quality education and training. Barriers to that access often exist for communities of color, low income communities, and others historically marginalized. While Seattle’s median income hit $80,000 in 2016 and skilled workers remain in high demand, the people benefiting from those opportunities are still largely white and often from out of state. In addition to earning less, communities of color often also live further from new job opportunities in the city center due to historically racist zoning policies. One way to start changing these trends is investing in education and training for young people who are disconnected from a path to living wage work.

According to a recent report from the Workforce Development Council of King County, many of those young people are living in South King County. While there are several public agencies dedicated to making education and training investments in that area, I wanted to know how to engage local employers. Improving access to quality jobs in the region also requires buy-in from companies who are prioritizing diversity and inclusion initiatives. In order to explore this question through my Jackson Fellowship project, I turned to the Technology Access Foundation (TAF). TAF is a non-profit focused on improving access to STEM and technology fields for students of color and underrepresented communities. TAF is leading innovative approaches to overcoming workforce disparities – including a STEM-based school in partnership with the Federal Way School District, a fellowship program for teachers of color, and distribution of the STEMbyTAF academic model. Given I am not from the impacted communities, it was important for me to learn from community-developed approaches and how I – and the public sector – can better support them.

When I approached TAF, they were looking to grow the corporate partnerships crucial to their mission. For my project, I helped plan a small, executive-level roundtable event to engage potential corporate partners, and kick off a new initiative called UnTapped. The initiative aims to provide companies with the knowledge and tools needed to tap into a diverse talent pool before students graduate from high school.

A Jackson Project with the Technology Access Foundation

The event took place in September at F5 Networks. We invited HR and recruiting representatives new to TAF to hear a panel discussion from existing partners and TAF alumni on the impact of integrating K-12 engagement into diversity and inclusion efforts. After the discussion, attendees broke into working groups to share existing challenges to taking that approach, and how to start overcoming them.

The conversation and what I learned working with TAF left me struck by the relative simplicity of the steps needed for change. Over the past couple of decades many companies have started diversity and inclusion initiatives focused largely on recruitment and retention efforts. The panelists discussed the importance of changing job descriptions to make sure they aren’t unintentionally biased towards one population, and setting up internal mentorship programs and other resources so underrepresented groups hired into largely white companies feel supported.

“Making sure people know they don’t have to become somebody else to be successful in your company is crucial,” said Francois Locoh-Donou, CEO of F5, who spoke during the event.

Another often overlooked challenge of recruiting from black and brown communities mentioned during the panel was networking. If leaders and recruiters are white and largely reaching out to white networks, demographics in the companies will stay the same.

“Having administrators and CEOs who are actually part of diverse communities is crucial,” said panelist Aiko Bethea, director of diversity and inclusion at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “Be careful not to just parachute in for recruiting, though. Actually work to expand your networks, showing up personally and on a regular basis.”

While simple in concept, the recommendations still take time, energy and resources. Two of the biggest take-aways for leaders in the room, and for myself, were the need to prioritize these efforts, and to put yourself into uncomfortable settings to make real change.

Thanks to the event, TAF fostered deeper relationships with companies who were energized by the conversation. TAF is continuing the UnTapped series, and the next event is taking place at Google on January 11.

The event and several months I spent working with TAF gave me a better understanding of the barriers faced by communities of color, the engagement need from employers to make change, and methods for encouraging that engagement. In the fall, I started a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Washington, where I am pursuing additional questions about the role of public-private partnerships in equitable economic development. I am grateful for the Jackson Leadership Fellowship, and the opportunity it provided to explore an issue close to my heart that will continue guiding my career.

Alyssa Patrick, 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow

Passing the torch to new Jackson ambassadors

One of the less obvious reasons for starting the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program was selfish on our part: we hoped to generate interest in a new generation of Puget Sound-based professionals in serving on the Jackson Foundation Board. This would be a way, we believed, we could continue the legacy of Senator Jackson once those on our Board, who knew him well, stepped down. Teaching others about Jackson’s principles and values ensured that the Foundation would always have eager, enthusiastic Board members willing to step up and hold up the Jackson banner.

Well, it worked. We are proud to be welcoming our first class of new Program Committee members to our ranks, in the form of three of our Fellows: Radha Friedman, Nora Ferm Nickum, and Alex Adams. The Program Committee is where the substantive work of the Foundation is housed: it is the committee that reviews the grants and programs put forward by staff, provides a mandate for strategies and tactics as to how to be most effective, and recommends to the Executive Committee proposals to be funded. In short, it is a perfect starting place for these three, highly professional and expert young leaders.

Radha is the Director of Programs at the World Justice Project, where she leads a portfolio of pilot programs in 60 countries to advance the rule of law. She is deeply committed to human rights and women’s rights. She is also active with the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and the Northwest Donor Exchange, so she will hit the ground running in her new role as a Program Committee member. About this opportunity, Radha says: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue my connection to the Foundation through the Program Committee, and to learn more about the projects and programs supported by the Foundation, which represent the legacy and spirit of Senator Jackson.”

Alex currently works for the King County Department of Transportation Director’s Office as Climate Change and Energy Program Manager, seeking to implement greenhouse gas reduction strategies identified in King County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan. Alex is well-versed in climate issues as they relate to the Pacific Northwest, which will aid the Foundation in its work on climate and national security and in finding effective ways to use the Foundation’s resources on climate concerns in general. Alex has also worked extensively with students of all ages in his previous work as a boat captain, leading semester-long ocean education trips aboard tall sailing ships in the waters between Nova Scotia and Trinidad. Given the Foundation’s commitment to public service, he will contribute an important perspective.

Finally, Nora, who is a Senior Associate at Cascadia Consulting Group, also is fluent in climate change and natural resources planning issues. She works with cities, tribes and foundations, focusing on stakeholder engagement, evaluation and communications. Nora previously spent five years as a Senior Climate Adaptation Specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, so Nora is well-poised not only to provide guidance and expertise to the Program Committee on climate, but also brings an international perspective that will inform us in our work in international affairs education and human rights. Nora says: “I really value the opportunity to be part of the Program Committee. I see it as a way to deepen my engagement with the Foundation after a really rewarding fellowship experience, learn more about philanthropic decision-making, and contribute my own expertise in national and international climate change policy.”

We are delighted that these Jackson Leadership Fellows have joined the ranks of the Foundation’s governance on the Program Committee.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Putting Human Rights First

The Foundation was fortunate to host a dynamic speaker straight from the turmoil of Washington, DC this week, with several events featuring Rob Berschinski, Senior Vice President for Policy at Human Rights First, one of the Foundation’s grantees. Rob was most recently serving in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He previously served under Ambassador Samantha Power at the UN.

Current and alumni Fellows Engage with Rob Berschinski

Rob spoke with our Jackson Fellows about his unusual career path, which began as an intelligence officer in the Air Force and subsequently an Iraq War veteran. He came to understand the U.S. role in human rights as integral to America’s national security and fundamental values, a position close to the heart of the Jackson legacy. He spoke to the Fellows of wanting to make a difference in that arena and finding policy making in Washington as the outlet for his convictions. The young professionals were particularly interested as to how Rob tries to be effective in a polarized political environment. In Human Rights First he found an organization – and a role – where he can champion a bipartisan, reasonably centrist viewpoint, crossing both sides of the aisle, “working with folks on a quiet basis.” He acknowledged the challenges: “This is the most fractured U.S. foreign policy in recent memory,” he said.

The Traditional Group Shot with the Fellows

Rob and I also had a discussion in partnership with the World Affairs Council, to a packed room of interested community members, students and retired military leaders. Russia came up a lot — both with the current focus on Russia’s role in Europe and the United States, stirring up trouble and meddling in elections, but also with the influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin on other right-wing leaning states in Europe and elsewhere. “He is empowering and supporting other strongmen who are modeling themselves after him,” Rob said.

The Jackson Foundation and Human Rights First have been working together for several years to bring attention to Russia’s negative influence on a democratic Europe and its efforts to rile up social and political divisions in our own country, something of which we are now well aware. “Russia’s weaponized info-war – disinformation and hate speech – is undercutting values that we thought were well-established in post-War Europe,” he warned.

The Trump Administration, the enfeebled and demoralized State Department, and the lack of American political leadership also came up often, particularly in the questions Rob fielded throughout his two days in Seattle. “This administration doesn’t place a premium on diplomacy,” he lamented.

Rob speaks with students and faculty at the Jackson School

We are grateful that Rob could also meet with students and faculty at the University’s Jackson School, where despite being the first week of classes, the audience was eager to get an overview of pressing human rights concerns such as the Rohingya Muslims killings in Burma and the ensuing refugee crisis, the Saudi bombing in Yemen, and the many other hotspots and humanitarian flashpoints that crowd today’s front pages. In all his appearances, the question of human rights at home came up again and again.

Rob acknowledged a growing activism at the state and local level and urged his audiences, young and old, to stay engaged and committed to American democratic values. “The world has always looked to us for leadership,” he concluded. Let us hope that will continue in these challenging times.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Climate Leadership on the Water

On an unusually hot summer day on the Seattle waterfront, 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow Alex Adams welcomed 13 high-schoolers from the Woodland Park Zoo’s Seattle Youth Climate Action Network (Seattle Youth CAN) program to step aboard the Sally Fox, one of King County’s Water Taxis, and learn about climate change and careers in the maritime industry. This event marked the kick-off of a new County program, called The Floating Classroom, which Alex started to broaden outreach to students of all ages and backgrounds and inspire strong leadership at all levels to confront climate change. The program also introduces students to internship and job opportunities in both King County and the region’s maritime industry. This event marked the culmination of Alex’s Jackson Leadership Fellows project.

Seattle Youth CAN students were greeted by Department of Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi, who praised the group for their commitment to climate action, and advised them to be thoughtful in how they pursued their future careers, “Luck is where opportunity meets preparedness,” he said. “Always work hard, learn as much as possible, and be ready when an opportunity comes your way.”

Students then learned about King County’s climate actions from Alex and other county staff who highlighted some of the actions and steps we can all take, such as taking public transit, conserving resources like electricity and water, and preparing now for the changes we’re already seeing in our region, such as warmer, rainier winters, longer heat waves, and stronger storms and flooding.

“Climate change is a problem that isn’t going away soon and we need smart young leaders like you to help develop innovative solutions to reduce emissions and help our communities adapt,” Alex told the group.

After a tour of the Water Taxi’s state-of-the-art navigation system, the Seattle Youth CAN students had a group discussion about the qualities of leadership and how each of them, while still young, could be climate change leaders in their communities and among their peers. Students were given copies of The Nature of Leadership book, which was written to commemorate the life and work of Senator Henry M. Jackson and to remind prospective leaders to be inquisitive, visionary, open, honest, diligent, pragmatic, and determined when pursuing their interests. Craig Gannett, Foundation Vice President, joined the group for the discussion.

Students then took a roundtrip ferry ride to West Seattle, where they cooled down on the upper deck and enjoyed lunch on the open water.

King County will continue The Floating Classroom program and use the Water Taxi as a versatile educational platform to add new community value, introduce or advance career pathways, and increase climate literacy in the next generation of leaders. We are pleased that Alex’s Fellows project will endure beyond his program year.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Overcoming Uncertainty to Take Climate Adaptation Action

The Jackson Foundation has been supporting the Climate Conversations series since 2015. The series brings together diverse stakeholders from local government, utilities, consulting and engineering firms, and academia, and provides a space to discuss research, needs, lessons, and opportunities around climate change resilience in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. We are pleased to share this post written by Emily Wright and Nora Nickum from Cascadia Consulting Group.  Nora is a 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow.

Many communities know that climate change is going to bring impacts; depending on where they are, those could include more heat waves, droughts, or rising sea levels. Yet those planning for climate change inevitably face a common predicament: uncertainty about exactly what’s to come and the effectiveness of different adaptation actions. While scientists have improved modeling techniques to better project how precipitation, temperature, and other climate drivers will change in the coming decades, the accuracy of projections diminishes as we look further into the future or at a finer geographic scale. We just don’t know exactly what will happen with policy and with human behavior down the road, and how that will translate into emissions—and then into climate change impacts. For some, this uncertainty can seem like a major roadblock to making decisions about what to do.

Enter Jennie Hoffman, a climate change adaptation specialist who helps agencies and organizations overcome this kind of analysis paralysis. Jennie, the Founder and Principal of Adaptation Insight, gave a presentation on August 16 as part of Cascadia Consulting’s Climate Conversations series. This series, now in its third year, is co-sponsored by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and Seattle Public Utilities.

Jennie Hoffman

Jennie says that even before you can deal with uncertainty, the first challenge is to carefully frame your problem. As singer-songwriter Ani DeFranco put it, “If you don’t ask the right question, every answer feels wrong.” Framing the problem should include, among other things, identifying what’s wrong with the current situation, what triggered the desire to make a decision, and the place and time frame over which the decision-maker wants to achieve a specified goal. Explicitly considering the time frame at this stage helps create the space to factor in how future changes in climate would affect the outcome, and the costs and benefits of different courses of action over time.

The second challenge, then, is understanding the uncertainty you’re facing. What information are you uncertain about, and does it actually affect the decision you need to make? Sensitivity analysis tools like Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique (SMART) can help decision-makers consider how much reducing scientific uncertainty would actually improve their pending decision and where to prioritize investing in obtaining better information. Similarly, value-of-Information analysis can help to determine how much is worth spending.

Climate change considerations can arise in many points in the decision-making process, from framing the problem to determining objectives, alternatives, consequences, tradeoffs, and uncertainty. Jennie demonstrated that the science is important, but it is more critical to some decisions than it is to others. When analyses around decision sensitivity or the value of information demonstrate that additional information could really change the decision, organizations can point to that to justify investing in specific, targeted research to reduce the uncertainty. In many cases, decision-makers can move ahead with efforts to build resilience—which grow more important by the day—with the information that is available.

Emily Wright and Nora Nickum, Cascadia Consulting Group

Uniting Global Funders to Support Women’s Rights and the Rule of Law

On July 10,  2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow Radha Friedman convened funders from around the world in The Hague, The Netherlands, on the eve of the fifth World Justice Forum. It was a historic convening that brought together funders to explore how new Trump administration foreign policy may affect issues including the rights of women and girls, and how funders from other parts of the world can respond. The convening also counted as Radha’s project for the Jackson Leadership Fellows program.

The transition from the Obama era to the Trump administration has brought a host of questions, potential challenges, and many unknowns. In the last few months, as budget priorities have shifted, many bipartisan programs to protect the rights of women and girls and keep them healthy and safe have been defunded.  As gender inequality is highly correlated with military conflict, human rights abuses, and economic stability, several countries are now concerned that the US can no longer be relied upon to champion democracy and fundamental rights.

Radha Friedman at World Justice Forum

Radha co-led the discussion with Julie Broome, Director of ARIADNE, a network of European funders, to explore the challenges that new US foreign policies pose for civil society organizations working to protect human rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, environmental rights, etc., and opportunities for public and private donors in other nations to step forward. Julie is also an alum of the Jackson Foundation staff!

Saskia Brechenmacher, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, shared her research on the global trend of closing space for civil society. She explained how the US fits into the larger context of governments cracking down on civil society organizations working to protect the rights of women and disadvantaged groups, often by arguing that funds should be spent fighting terrorism instead. Since 2014, more than 60 countries have restricted civil society’s ability to access funding via expansive anti-terrorism laws.

Paige Alexander, a former senior official from the US State Department, provided additional context, including that the current US Cabinet has the fewest women of any administration in 40 years, and funding for women’s rights has been cut sharply since the new administration began. One of the most prominent examples was the US administration’s recent decision to defund the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN’s primary supporter of safe childbirth, gender-based violence response, and advocacy against abusive practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation.

US funding to protect the rights of women and girls has historically been bipartisan, because promoting women’s rights has demonstrated increased global stability, reduced poverty in developing nations and fuels economic growth. Global research confirms that the best predictor of a state’s stability is how it treats women.

The roundtable discussion provided an opportunity for funders to not only share their concerns, but ideas for action. A funder in Hungary shared that shortly after Trump’s election, the Open Society Foundations announced a $10 million rapid response fund to support those targeted by hateful rhetoric, designed to support “human rights, the rule of law, and an inclusive society.”

A funder from The Netherlands noted the creation of a global fund to reduce the funding gap of $600 million left when the US defunded the UNFPA and pledged $10 million, followed by several other countries, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

While there is still much to do in the months and years to come, this collaborative spirit among funders—despite different funding mandates, laws, and cultures—is a strong step forward. This collaboration embodies the spirit of the late Senator Jackson and his ability to reach across the aisle to gain support for shared goals, and shows both resilience and optimism about our future.

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Radha Friedman

The meeting concluded and was followed by remarks from US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who beautifully encapsulated the sentiment in the room by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King: “The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.”

We are proud of Radha and impressed with her project and the quality of the convening that she pulled together.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

 

2017 Jackson Fellows Go to Washington, D.C.

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.

Roger-Mark De Souza of the Wilson Center introducing Jackson Fellows Connor Birkeland, Radha Friedman, and Amarpreet Sethi

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 Fellows, with Board members John Hempelmann, far left, and Susan Wickwire, (3rd from right) meeting with Senator Patty Murray
The Fellows meeting with Senator Maria Cantwell

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.

Congressmen Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer with Fellow Hans Zeiger, center
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene talks with Jackson Fellows Kiana Scott and Alyssa Patrick

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.

Jackson Fellows Kiana Scott (speaking), Hans Zeiger (l)  and Nora Ferm Nickum (r)  were featured on a panel about public service

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.

A full house of Washington, D.C. interns with questions for the panel

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

Jackson Fellows March Forward As Changemakers

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.
Tamara Power-Drutis

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.

Tamara worked as Executive Director at Crosscut Public Media

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.

Wilson Center event in Washington D.C. featuring 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows

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.

Tamara, Chief of Staff, with her Amplifier Team

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.