Category Archives: Jackson Legacy

The Jackson Fellows Take D.C.

Once again a new crop of Jackson Fellows has taken Washington, DC by storm, meeting with seven members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation – including individual meetings with Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell – and a slew of other useful organizations and individuals relevant to the Jackson Foundation and the Jackson legacy.

From left with Senator Patty Murray, Jackson Fellows Stephanie Celt, Shin Yu Pai, Christina Sciabarra, Danielle Granatt, Brandon Hersey, Joe Nguyen, Arianna Muirow, Stephen Robinson, and Jeremy Wood

With a packed agenda and a cohort of Fellows that included a new mom (Arianna) and her 2-month daughter who nearly stole the show, the Fellows showed why they had been chosen in the first place to represent the Jackson brand.

Jackson Fellows pose with Senator Jackson’s bust in the Russell Senate Building

Individually and collectively, they are a passionate, idealistic, pragmatic, committed, and determined bunch. They asked tough questions and charmed their audiences.One particular audience that benefited from the Fellows’ unique ability to inspire others and challenge dusty conventions was at the Woodrow Wilson Center. There, each of the Fellows spoke for a few minutes to a crowd of over 70 young Washington, DC interns – some of whom barely in their first few days on the job —  about navigating public service careers amid exceptional obstacles like the kind they might face today. One Fellow, Stephen Robinson, exhorted the interns to “get outside of yourself” and think about the larger whole of society. Christina Sciabarra, who is used to counseling college students in her post at a major community college outside of Seattle, advised them: “If a door is not open – open it.”

Jackson Fellow Stephen Robinson (Photo credit: Ben Dill, Wilson Center)
Jackson Fellow Christina Sciabarra (right) (Photo credit: Ben Dill, Wilson Center)

Others, including Arianna Muirow, spoke of the importance of time and patience: “Trust your route, even if it is circuitous.” And Danielle Granatt agreed, arguing that “a career is not a straight line.” Brandon Hersey also emphasized that “being able to pivot in your career” is essential in today’s world. All of the Fellows had profound observations that resonated with the young crowd. They then paired up and led small group discussions that were really an opportunity for the interns to get their own questions answered, and they did not disappoint.

Brandon Hersey and Danielle Granatt (Photo credit: Ben Dill, Wilson Center)

In addition to the public event at Wilson, the Fellows were treated to a high-level briefing on climate change and national security (a priority of the Jackson Foundation) by General Ron Keys at the Center for Naval Analyses. They also met with a new Foundation grantee, Steven Olikara of the Millennial Action Project, who has created an impressive bipartisan network facilitating legislative changes at the state and national level by working with young elected officials.

Jackson Fellows Meeting with CNA’s Chair of the Military Advisory Board, General Ron Keys, (third from the left)

This year, for the third year, the Fellows also met with Mike Evans, the Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, who is an old colleague of Foundation Board members from Jackson days. Mike has become a mandatory meeting for each cohort for his unusual perspective on how the sausage is made within the Senate these days on the key subjects of health care, trade, social security, and taxes, among many other topics within the committee’s jurisdiction. He spoke movingly about the importance of “civil partisanship,” what he called “a lost art” on Capitol Hill, and lamented the erosion of norms which had, in earlier days, contributed to consensus and progress. He is always a hit with the Fellows and like others we met with, was in turn inspired by their energy and intelligence.

Mike Evans, Chief Council Senate Finance Committee (standing)

Finally we landed at the Van Ness Feldman law firm, founded by the late President of the Board, Bill Van Ness. Sitting in the Jackson board room at the firm and listening to how Jackson’s values were still informing that law firm was a fitting end to the three-day agenda.

From left: Tracy Nagelbush and Bob Szabo, Van Ness Feldman, with Jackson Fellow Stephanie Celt

The Fellows also benefited greatly by the presence of three board members who took the time to travel with the group: Vice presidents Craig Gannett and Linda Mason Wilgis, and Board member Chuck Blumenfeld, who serves as the board advisor on the Fellows’ alumni council.

From left: Chuck Blumenfeld, Lara Iglitzin, Linda Mason Wilgis, and Craig Gannett

All in all, we exhausted ourselves but I think it’s fair to say that from our perspective, spending time with this extraordinary group of young people is a very energizing experience, one of the most exciting aspects of the Jackson Foundation’s work today.

 

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

 

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

Farewell, Helen Jackson: You will be Missed

Our Chairman Emeritus, Helen H. Jackson, passed away on February 24, at the age of 84. As I write these words, I am deeply struck at the loss to the Jackson Foundation, which she helped to create, and to the extended Jackson Foundation family of Scoop’s Troops, Board members, staff, and assorted hundreds of others, whom she nurtured and led for so many years in her role as Chairman of the Board.

This is both a personal loss to Helen’s immediate family – her daughter Anna Marie Jackson Laurence and son Peter Jackson sit on our Board – and to those of us fortunate enough to have known Helen over the years. There is a wonderful tribute in the Everett Herald, the local newspaper of Scoop and Helen’s home town, full of pictures and details of Helen’s full and meaningful life.

We have our own memories: Helen with her ready laugh, particularly about anyone too full of themselves, always there to help the staff and Board carry out the Foundation’s work. In the early days, Helen rolled up her sleeves and came often to her office with its wall of photos, small elegant desk, faded pink satin couch, and pile of letters. She always made a point to sign each and every one of the letters to donors herself – a monumental task when our donor list had 3,000 names! I think this gave us a sense of Helen’s devotion to duty and her connection to the Jackson network. She also had a special fondness for chocolate, which we shared and laughed about. She was interested in our lives, our families, and our stories (although she was horrified when our adventures involved anything physically challenging or the consumption of exotic food).

Helen worked with then Executive Director Robin Pasquarella and then Board President Bill Van Ness to build the Jackson Foundation into a substantive and enduring legacy to Scoop. She had a hand in setting the priorities of the Foundation – first among them, supporting the School of International Studies at the University of Washington that would bear her husband’s name. Helen always championed the students and faculty at the university and sought to make the Jackson School a premier educational institution.

Helen with John Simpson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and then director of the Jackson School Jere Bacharach (standing) and Lara Iglitzin, at a signing for one of the endowed professorships given to the School.

The Foundation of course made an early commitment to environment, energy, and natural resources management given that those concerns constituted a towering part of Scoop’s legislative legacy. Helen leaned on Gren Garside, Bill Van Ness, Chuck Luce, Sterling Munro and others to establish the Foundation as a leader in the environmental arena. Because of Jackson’s role in the preservation and creation of national parks in the Northwest, she often was called on to speak on behalf of the family and the Foundation.

Helen at the dedication and ribbon cutting for the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, Mount Rainier National Park in 1987

Yet Helen herself ensured that we focused on human rights, a central part of Jackson’s achievements but also one of her own passions.

In 1978 at the height of the Cold War, she co-founded and co-chaired the bipartisan watchdog group Congressional Wives for Soviet Jewry, working alongside Scoop’s staff members like Dorothy Fosdick and Richard Perle to raise attention to the plight of Jews and prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union. She made many speeches and met individually with family members seeking to have their loved ones freed, work she continued long after Senator Jackson’s death.

At a huge demonstration in support of Soviet Jewry in 1984

Two decades later the Jackson Foundation partnered with the famous Refusenik Natan Sharansky after his release from prison, and Elena Bonner, widow of the renowned dissident scientist Andrei Sakharov, to celebrate the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which helped hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews emigrate from the USSR.  An extraordinary moment for the Jackson legacy, it was fitting that Helen was in Israel to soak in the adulation of the crowd. I served as her right-hand staff member at that Jerusalem conference and as her unofficial translator for the Russian emigres eager to convey to Helen what Senator Jackson’s leadership – and her own efforts – had meant to them. It was a special role to play. She shared Scoop’s commitment to human rights and fully participated in the marking of this crowning achievement.

Helen with Avital Sharansky, wife of then imprisoned Refusenik Natan Sharansky, at a demonstration in NYC.

Given her lifetime of leadership in human rights, the Foundation was proud to establish the Helen H. Jackson Chair for Human Rights at the Jackson School in her honor a decade ago. Dr. Angelina Godoy, the first holder of the Chair, oversees a human rights center that is on the vanguard of activism and scholarship nationally. It is a lasting tribute to Helen.

Angelina Godoy, Helen Jackson Chair, left, with her students at the Human Rights Center at the Jackson School

Unfailingly gracious and supportive of us all, Helen greatly appreciated the effort to continue the Jackson legacy, which meant the world to her.

Helen, we will miss you.

 

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

The Jackson Foundation’s Year in Review

The Board of Governors of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation recently held its Annual Board meeting in downtown Seattle. The Board meeting is an opportunity for Board members to review the audited financials and the budget, discuss the year’s grants and programs and assess their impact, fine tune the governance of the organization, and raise other relevant concerns. This year, the Foundation received my annual Executive Director’s Report, which provides a snapshot of the work of the Foundation in the Fiscal Year. To accompany the Report, we also produced a short slide show that gives a nice visual overview of the year in review, focusing on our many exciting programs throughout the year.

We were joined the night before the Board meeting by Lt. Gen Stephen J. Lanza (Ret), James Schlesinger Practitioner-in-Residence at the Jackson School of International Studies, a position we supported. General Lanza and Jackson School Director Resat Kasaba engaged the Board in a lively conversation about the demands and challenges of leadership in the 21st century, areas of synergy between the School and the military, particularly in developing new young foreign policy analysts and experts for our nation, and implications of climate change that play into international and national security considerations. General Lanza praised the Jackson School, and Dr. Kasaba, for having the foresight to devote itself to educating the next generation of young people to take the helm in foreign policy circles.

General Lanza speaking at the Annual Meeting dinner.

At lunch after the Board meeting, co-founders of the Center for Climate & Security, Frank Femia and Caitlin Werrell joined the Board in a discussion moderated by one of the Foundation Vice Presidents, Susan Wickwire, that delved further into the climate security work that the Foundation is supporting. Femia and Werrell provided an impressive and concise overview of the political calculations and negotiations that are currently underway in Washington, DC as they relate to climate and national security, a subject that occasionally generates rare bipartisan action.

Frank Femia speaking at the Annual Meeting luncheon.

This was a successful and productive Annual Board meeting. The Foundation is fortunate to have a dedicated and engaged cohort of Board members, led by Board President John Hempelmann. At this year’s meeting, several new members were elected to the Board, including the first alumnus of the Jackson Leadership Fellows’ program, Matt Combe. We hope this will be the first of many elevations of our Leadership Fellows to our Board.

We thought you might enjoy reading the Executive Director’s Report and viewing the slide show, as both together really show you what we’re about and how much we’re doing. We welcome your questions and reactions to our work.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

 

 

Farewell to President Emeritus of the Foundation Bill Van Ness

The Jackson Foundation and the extended Jackson family recently lost its founder and rock with the passing of Bill Van Ness. Bill served as the Foundation’s President of the Board for 20 years. But Bill made his mark upon this world in many ways. As a devoted family man, Bill and Pat, his wife of 58 years, had four children, who invariably could be found visiting him at his cabin on the Olympic Peninsula along with their broods of kids. And he founded a successful law firm, Van Ness Feldman, which continues on two coasts doing important, policy-relevant law.

I always found the scene a bit incongruous when I visited Bill at his beach cabin – the brilliant lawyer, one of the sharpest legal minds, the staffer who worked with Senator Jackson to draft the ground-breaking National Environmental Policy Act  – in his work overalls, bossing around the grandchildren as they dug for clams or dragged their little wooden boat across the grass. In that setting, Bill was relaxed, focused on being a good host, getting his guests a beer or a coke, showing off his freshly varnished teak tables, offering clams or salmon fresh from Puget Sound.

Bill in his classic mode – grilling salmon at a Scoop’s Troops event

But that was Bill –a country boy, who grew up in Montana and Washington State and raised himself into a professional career by his bootstraps and with a mind like a steel trap. University of Washington Law School led him to work for Senator Jackson, a partnership that lasted Jackson’s life time, even after Bill left to found his own law firm with his close colleague, Howard Feldman.

Bill and his law partner and friend, Howard Feldman

I came to know Bill as my boss and mentor and as a father figure. Bill was tough –schooled before the days of giving prizes and praise no matter what you did – but if you performed, you knew it. One “you did good” from him meant the world. He could be gruff but you knew he had heart – he couldn’t hide it.

Bill taught me how to write and edit (if only from reading his scrawled notes in the margin), how to anticipate questions from readers and audiences (“never ask a question you don’t know the answer to”), how to provide sufficient background to set the stage for an argument (preferably a fat briefing book of memos and research), how to be political and ensure that you had your ducks in a row before a big, important meeting. He also taught me by example about integrity. Rigorous in everything he did, he never cut corners. It was a key lesson.

Bill with Senator Jackson

Because he was dedicated to Scoop Jackson and all that he stood for, Bill couched much of his world view in Jackson’s values: “good judgment” was the ultimate compliment he could pay you. He valued balanced reporting, scholarship, and loyalty. He was a big picture thinker – one of his law partners once said that Bill might have ten ideas at once and one of them would be brilliant – yet he sweated the details too.

Bill dedicated himself to the Jackson Foundation in ways large and small, taking on the role of president as more of a day-to-day task, calling me 5-6 times a day with an idea, an edit, or to tell me to fax him something. He loved that fax machine. As the ultimate staffer, he taught me how to staff. I could imagine how well he had staffed Senator Jackson in the way that he modeled being prepared, being thorough, vetting everything, thinking ahead. After Jackson’s death he staffed Helen Jackson, Scoop’s widow, by conceiving of and creating the Jackson Foundation to carry on Scoop’s work as well as we could. The man behind the scenes, Bill wanted the Foundation to succeed and happily gave the credit to others for those successes.

A look backward – over 20 years ago, Lara and Bill

We will miss Bill, for his contributions to the Jackson Foundation and to the Jackson legacy. And we will miss his close attention to what matters most in life: family, loyalty, friends, colleagues, and good values.

You did good, Bill.

 

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

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

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

Farewell to Jelena

Life in a nonprofit can be challenging. Resources are usually stretched thin and the work is generally more than people can handle in a normal working day. People who devote themselves to the nonprofit sector have to believe that the work they are doing matters – to themselves, their colleagues, the community, and to the other nonprofits with whom they work.

Such is the case at our Foundation with its small staff. And no one has exemplified that dedication to the greater good more than our office and finance manager, Jelena Jurkovic, who retires this month after 18 years of service to the Jackson legacy. Jelena is one of those unsung heroes who make organizations work well. When sifting through photos in advance of honoring her, I couldn’t help but be struck by how few photos there were of her – instead, others are at the podium, giving the talks, leading the crowd. Yet Jelena’s quiet and critical role resulted in full lecture halls; well-prepped and organized board meetings; and thoughtful, accurate briefing materials. While this does not always make for headlines or glory, in the nearly two decades that I have worked with Jelena, her spirit, warmth, dedication to mission, commitment to her colleagues, and professionalism have meant the world to all of us. When I sent out emails to former colleagues about Jelena’s decision to retire, responses were quick and heartfelt. Board members have been equally effusive about Jelena and the role that she has played here at the Foundation. While we will hire other staff, her shoes will be hard to fill.

Jelena’s first week at the Foundation celebrating Scoop’s Troops at Helen Jackson’s home in Everett
Jelena and Anna Marie Laurence at the party in Jelena’s honor

At a farewell event for Jelena last night, Anna Marie Laurence, Board member and daughter of Senator Jackson, praised Jelena and said, “My father liked to say, ‘Whatever you do in life, always do it with excellence.’ This is what Jelena did.” Board member Joel Merkel expressed that he was honored to call Jelena a friend and emphasized, as did other speakers, the genuine and heartfelt nature of Jelena’s relationships with others. He concluded, “Thank you, Jelena, for your friendship and your service to the Jackson Foundation. We will miss your daily presence but we will never forget you and we all hope to maintain the relationship.”

Jelena and Joel Merkel

When you work together, day after day, you come to be a family. Such it has been, to our great good fortune, to work together with Jelena at the Jackson Foundation. With Jelena’s retirement to sunnier climes and the pull of her loved ones, we lose an essential part of our extended Jackson Foundation family. As Foundation President John Hempelmann said last night, “while we will miss her, whenever we think of Jelena, we will smile.”

Jelena and John Hempelmann

We wish Jelena the best of luck in her retirement and we will retain fond memories of our many laughs and shared concerns over the years together.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director