Category Archives: Jackson values for a new generation

Jackson Fellows Reaching More Young Leaders

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.

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Panelists, from left to right: Michelle Frix, Tamara Power-Drutis, Laura Stewart, and Jaime Hawk (2016 Jackson Fellows).

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.

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Linda Mason Wilgis (Foundation vice president) — front row, fourth from left —served as one of Jaime Hawk’s mentors in the Fellows program. She is shown with participants in the Leadership Institute.

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.”

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Leadership Insights from Washington State’s Attorney General

As part of the Jackson Fellows program, the Foundation was fortunate recently to host a discussion with the Fellows and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson on leadership.  The Attorney General is a valued member of the Foundation’s Honorary Council of Advisors.  Ferguson, whose parents deeply admired Senator Jackson and instilled Jackson values in their son, made time for a one-on-one dialogue with the Fellows.

Linda Mason Wilgis, Foundation Vice President, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Michele Frix, 2016 Fellow
Linda Mason Wilgis, Foundation Vice President, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Michele Frix, 2016 Fellow

In a thought-provoking, memorable session, Ferguson couched his lessons of leadership in terms of his former hobby of chess, a sport he dedicated himself to for several formative years before embracing the law and politics as a career.  “If you lose, you have no one to blame but yourself,” he began.  “You were outplayed.  You made a mistake.  Take responsibility for your actions,” he advised.  Mistakes will happen:  what is important is taking ownership of them and being accountable to others.  He also suggested analyzing one’s losses carefully.  “The path to improvement is a careful scrutiny of the games that you have lost,” he stressed.

IMG_1234Continuing the chess analogy, Ferguson told the young Fellows to “imagine a position in the future and think of the possible moves to get there.”  It is important to take calculated risks, he said.  “As a leader, you should be willing to go to that position and accept the consequences.”

Turning to leadership and team-building, Ferguson believes that: “Your team watches you closely.   If you have a leadership role, they are watching you.”  This engenders in him a sense of responsibility and the importance of modeling ethical behavior.  “You set the tone,” he reminded the group.  “True leadership also means true listening,” he counseled.

The Fellows peppered Ferguson for advice and input that stems from their own professional dilemmas.  When faced with complex situations, Ferguson told them:  “Be true to yourself.  Don’t compromise.”

IMG_1244The Fellows deeply appreciated the opportunity to engage with a leader like Attorney General Ferguson.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Youth Town Hall

Senator Jackson believed deeply in the importance of good government.  For him, that meant being prepared, well-informed, and ready to work with others – from either political party – to get major legislation passed.  One part of the Foundation’s work is to encourage civic and political engagement, particularly among young people.  We recently found a new partner in the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate to do just that.  The Kennedy Institute, only a year old, and the Jackson Foundation, together sponsored a Youth Town Hall at the Institute’s home base in Boston, Massachusetts.  The timing, in the midst of the 2016 presidential election, could not have been better and enthusiasm for the event was high.

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One of the special aspects of the Kennedy Institute is its full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber.  It’s a wonderful place to hold events and to bring in young people to learn about political life, the legislative process, the art of compromise, and the history of the Senate.  We chose to hold the Youth Town Hall in the Senate Chamber and it was packed with millennials from colleges and programs throughout the Boston area.  The session opened with a sense of history from both Mrs. Vicki Kennedy, President of the Institute’s Board and the Senator’s widow, and John Hempelmann, the Foundation’s president.  Both highlighted the special relationship between Scoop and Ted and the manner in which each man valued colleagues and worked to pass important legislation during their years in the Senate.  As John Hempelmann put it, “These men shared some important values that made them both great leaders – their desire to reach across the aisle for new perspectives, their ability to negotiate and compromise, and their keen understanding of the institution of the Senate. “

John Hempelmann, Foundation President
John Hempelmann, Foundation President

The Youth Town Hall had two excellent young moderators in Lauren Dezenski, from Politico, and Mike Deehan, of WGBH News.  They deftly got the crowd to discuss the interactive survey of views of the political process – How can we get you more involved in political life?  How likely are you to volunteer for a campaign? How important are the issues discussed in the presidential election to your life?  Are the candidates talking about your issues? What can be improved in the civic education of our country?

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Mike Deehan, WGBH News, and Co-Moderator

The diverse crowd, filled with the children of immigrants and immigrants themselves, as well as the full spectrum of young people from the region, had strong opinions.  At times, they seemed to reflect some of the well-known stereotypes of the millennial generation – they want their voices to be valued and heard.  They are optimistic about the future, but cynical about politics.  They have a fresh, unadulterated take on society and are not afraid to speak up.  The room held Bernie Sanders supporters  – lots of them – but also Trump and Clinton advocates.  A 15-year old spoke up:  “We need to make sure that students know that their voices be heard.”  A young African American woman declared her interest in running for political office to offset the lack of women of color in the U.S. political life.  An immigrant from Nigeria made an enthusiastic defense of Trump.  One person made a plea for young people to “talk about ourselves as those who have a right to participate in society, rather than seeing ourselves as someone ‘less than’ equal to others.”  “Our view of how we see the world is legitimate – we are not just an age group.”

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As the youngest member of the Massachusetts State Senate, Senator Eric P. Lesser reminded the crowd at the end,  “Take on and challenge cynicism rather than embrace it.  Real change comes from the community up.”

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Massachusetts State Senator Eric P. Lesser

This was the first Youth Town Hall sponsored by the Kennedy Institute and the Jackson Foundation.  It was inspiring and can be watched in full here.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

Photos courtesy of Eric Haynes Photography

Leadership Lessons from a Community Innovator

Shot with DxO ONEThe Jackson Leadership Fellows 2016 Class was fortunate to have an informal discussion with long-time Seattle community leader, Martha Choe, last week.  Martha has held a remarkable and diverse list of jobs– from serving on the Seattle City Council, where she chaired the Transportation Committee and the Finance Committee – to her role as Chief Administrative Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her career also encompassed the private banking sector and a position as Director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development  in Governor Gary Locke’s cabinet.  Our Fellows were eager to hear her thoughts about her approach to leadership and what she’s learned from her many challenges along the road of her career.

Martha made a few key points to the Fellows:  first, she said “It’s not about you.”  She explained:  “You need to create the ownership of ideas among your team members, and know how and when to get in front of an idea, and when to let others shine.”   Second, she stressed the importance of candor and vulnerability, noting that it was okay to admit “I don’t know” and indicate that you will start asking the right questions to find out the answers.  Listen to your audience, she counseled, and face up to your weaknesses.  “Vulnerability can convey empowerment.”  She also spoke about the need and often “the courage to make unpopular decisions.”  This is part of a good leader’s responsibility, she reminded the Fellows.

Shot with DxO ONE

Over the course of her career in different sectors of our community, Martha said she came to realize that “leadership involves people, not just org charts and boxes.”  Gaining an understanding of the needs of the people around you – and whom you are managing– will make you a better leader.

She also emphasized one of the key Jackson leadership attributes – the importance of doing your homework.  “Learn, listen and understand different perspectives.”  She predicted:  “You will need vision and reality for the hard and lonely work of leadership.”

In response to a question about the different leadership challenges facing the public and private sector, Martha underlined the integral role of consensus building in achieving results.  She concluded with a powerful message to these young leaders in the making  – “if you take risks, you will sometimes fail.”

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Inspiring Young Leaders

Many of you have heard by now of the Foundation’s exciting new initiative – a young leadership program called the Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellows.  We’ve just launched the inaugural class of this 9-month program, which will include leadership training, mentoring, networking, and substantive work on individual projects.

As we showcased in an earlier message, the class is outstanding.  The word “inspiring” may sometimes be overused – but in this case I can honestly say that interviewing the 35 fellowship candidates filled me with hope for a time when our civic life will again ring with bipartisan discourse and engaged, active citizens.  As one of the Foundation’s Vice Presidents, Craig Gannett, put it in welcoming remarks to the Fellows, “listening to all of you gives me optimism for the future.”

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2016 Fellows with Anna Marie Laurence, Secretary of the Board, and John Hempelmann, President, in front of the Jackson bust in Everett, Washington outside the Jackson home.

While we eventually chose only eight fellows, a few bright spots came through during the interview process.  First, the candidates showed a tremendous interest in leadership – in all its facets – and a strong desire to learn the skills and attributes of great leaders.  Second, they hunger to engage outside of work spheres and to connect more deeply with new colleagues and novel ideas.  Third, these young professionals want to involve diverse aspects of our community into their work – both professionally and in their volunteer pursuits.  Finally – and perhaps most heartening – they believe that Senator Jackson’s life and achievements can speak to this next generation.  While many of the candidates did not previously know of Senator Jackson, they came to the interviews inspired by what they had read about him, especially in The Nature of Leadership book that we make available on our website.

The Foundation embarked on its new Fellowship program in part to reach out to the next generation and inculcate them with the Jackson values.  The year has just begun – and yet it is already clear that those values – and the man behind them – remain relevant today.

We hope you will join us at some of the many events this year in which the Fellows will be involved.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

 

 

UW Center for Human Rights Brings World to Students

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, the Helen H. Jackson Chair in Human Rights and Director, the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights at the Jackson School, has continued to forge links between the Jackson legacy and current human rights concerns.  With Foundation support, the Center has sought to build partnerships with organizations that will extend its reach.

Angelina greatly values what practitioners can add to a student’s education about human rights, so the Center has made it a priority to bring that real-world element into its work.  One delegation sponsored by the U.S. State Department consisted of visiting human rights advocates working in the area of human rights and the environment.  This exposed the students to discussion about environmental sustainability and rights in several different countries, as delegation members interacted with students about using a human rights lens to view environmental injustice and challenges.

Helen Jackson Chair Angelina Godoy (top left) and students at Center
Helen Jackson Chair Angelina Godoy (top left) and students at Center

The Center’s partnership with Landesa, an organization promoting international land rights for the world’s poorest families, is another showcase for on-the-ground human rights activity.  The Center has built an ongoing relationship with Landesa, taking advantage of visiting international land rights practitioners to bring them to the University and talk to students in formal and informal settings.  These events, begun a few years ago, have been so successful that they have been repeated annually, so that Landesa Fellows now routinely visit the Center in the fall.  Other faculty members have taken advantage of the visiting Fellows to bring them to talk to classes that relate to land rights, such as poverty, population, women rights, human rights, and Asian studies.

Visiting Land Rights Advocates from Landesa
Visiting Land Rights Advocates from Landesa

We are proud of our connection with the Human Rights Center and pleased that it has found ways to reflect on Senator Jackson’s legacy by engaging contemporary human rights in innovative and meaningful ways.  I’m certain that the students are benefiting from the links with policymakers and other advocates at the frontlines of human rights work worldwide.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Engaging Citizens in Seattle’s Civic Life

In early August, the Jackson Foundation will partner with Seattle CityClub for the second time this year to present its latest Civic Boot Camp series. The day-long program targets young adults and new arrivals to the city and is a fast-paced course into local history, culture, and politics. The Jackson Foundation supported the program to help CityClub engage new populations into the civic life of our community, and, in so doing, to promote some of the values that Senator Jackson embodied.

May Boot Camp Participants
May Boot Camp Participants

During the day, Civic Boot Camp visit​s​ key historical and civic institutions​, hears from civic leaders in the region, networks, ​develops participants’ civic skills, and gives them tools to design their own personal plan for civic engagement. Diane Douglas, Executive Director of Seattle CityClub, says “the partnership with the Jackson Foundation is a natural fit; Civic Boot Camp was envisioned to start conversations, build knowledge, and ignite civic action. This program has done just that.”

In the spirit of Senator Jackson, Boot Campers gain an in-depth appreciation of the history around an issue in our region and have the chance to practice civic leadership skills. CityClub provided the historical curricula and the Jackson Foundation provided the civic tools to activate people’s inspiration into action.

A Visit to a South King County Nonprofit
A Visit to a South Seattle Nonprofit

While the core curricula of each Civic Boot Camp program is to instill in its participants the knowledge of how civic leadership and participation shapes our community, ​CityClub narrows down the discussion around a chosen theme. In May, Civic Boot Camp focused on​”Local/Global Seattle” and highlighted the history of the “American dream” across King County as it relates to equity and demographic change. As part of a panel luncheon discussion, participants listened to  ​civic leaders in South King County working to support civic health in immigrant communities and answered difficult questions about how to achieve equity across our community.

In two separate days in August, Civic Boot Camp will take place along Seattle’s downtown waterfront and will focus on the history and politics surrounding the downtown waterfront development plans. Participants will get a guided tour of waterfront sites from a local historian from the nonprofit HistoryLink, visiting the Pike Place Market, Olympic Sculpture Park and the Port of Seattle, and as at all Boot Camps, learn about philanthropy, social services, and opportunities for civic engagement in the region. A panel discussion will feature representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Pike Place Market Foundation, and the Port of Seattle.

Throughout each day, the Foundation’s publication The Nature of Leadership  ​helps Boot Campers identify ideal civic leadership traits in the leaders with whom they interact, and importantly, in themselves as public citizens. Participants wrestle with hard questions to evaluate their own civic engagement strategies: “How do you seek out partnerships to solve problems? How do you learn from others? What do you do in your community to build trust and motivate others?” With the Senator Jackson leadership story before them, participants have a valuable resource to explore their own civic engagement goals.

Sharing civic stories and learning about our community’s past is integral to the Civic Boot Camp mission. Christina Billingsley, CityClub’s coordinator for the Civic Boot Camp program, notes “The partnership with the Jackson Foundation and CityClub has provided an innovative platform for newcomers to the region and young people to get connected, appreciate our past, and become better informed about their own political choices and civic involvement.” The Foundation and CityClub hope Boot Campers will continue the conversations started here and translate this knowledge to improve civic health across King County. The Jackson Foundation is proud to be part of this effort to engage young people, new immigrants, and diverse populations into the heart of civic life in the Seattle community.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director