Talk about inspirational! I had the chance to sit in on part of the Center for Women and Democracy’s Leadership Institute, an annual short course for dynamic young leaders – all professional women from the region – that the Center conducts. The participants are impressive: they range from graduate students in engineering or international studies to human rights activists, global health experts and philanthropic sector analysts. I was fortunate to speak briefly to the group about Senator Jackson because one of our own Jackson Leadership Fellows, Jaime Hawk, is a long-time board member of the Center and chose the Leadership Institute as the place to concentrate her individual project time for the Fellowship.
Using the Foundation’s Nature of Leadership publication, which focuses on the enduring Jackson values that we believe are widely applicable for new generations of leaders, Jaime pulled together a panel for the community engagement part of the Institute’s curriculum. The panel, “Leadership for the Public Good,” featured Jaime in a conversation with a few of her compatriots from the Jackson Leadership Fellows program – Tamara Powers-Drutis, Laura Stewart, and Michelle Frix. All four Fellows have been working together to become more effective and successful leaders, and they discussed the influences on them – many pointing to their mothers as key – and the mentors and inspirations they have drawn upon. Framing the discussion around what motivated these successful women in their own lives and careers, Jaime elicited the passion that drives each of them on a daily basis. They shared reflections on their journey, how and why they chose public service, and the turning points that shaped their careers.
As Jaime put it, working in the public sector is more about “finding the kind of job where I can be passionate about what I do – for my 60 hours a week!” Tamara agreed, saying that she also thought about “where are gaps that her passions can fill” in the sector as she pondered her own career path. Laura captivated the audience with her personal story of activism from her earliest days as a child in Swaziland, where she was drawn to environmental justice because of inequities around her, disproportionately hurting her community. Michele, now Chief of Staff at the Seattle Foundation, spoke of her own journey, emphasizing her personal decision to “go deeper” into a field – rather than be a generalist – and her immersion in Latin America studies at the Jackson School as a vital first step on that road.
One of Jaime’s mentors for the program, Foundation vice president Linda Mason Wilgis, attended the panel discussion and was equally moved at the honesty and heartfelt remarks by the Fellows. “It was a privilege to hear [the Jackson Fellows] share with other young leaders their passions and what has inspired them to make a difference in the world and in their local communities. I continue to be amazed at the depth and breadth of their experience and intellect at such a young age.”
Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director