Category Archives: Leadership

A Business Case for Climate Action

We’re very pleased to highlight a guest blog today from Nora Ferm Nickum, a 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellow, about her project this year.  Her work emphasizes the importance of climate action in the Pacific Northwest and what businesses can do to seize the initiative. -Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Nora Ferm Nickum

Climate change is a massive challenge that requires public policy answers at all levels of government, but also widespread action by the private sector and within our communities. For my Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellow project, I sought to learn about how businesses here in the Seattle area are helping to tackle this challenge. I interviewed ten businesses across a range of industries, from retail and recreation to construction and health care. Throughout, there was a common thread that climate change action is not only a necessity, but also an opportunity. Steps that reduce emissions can save costs, attract customers, and demonstrate leadership.

I heard stories from businesses that are leading change in their industries. For example, Fremont Brewing pilot-tested a biodigester that turns its spent grain into methane and then electricity. There are systems like that available for very large established breweries, but not small ones. Fremont’s goal is to show that it is feasible—and that there is demand—so that manufacturers will recognize the market opportunity and create systems that can work for smaller breweries.

Srirup Kumar of Impact Bioenergy explains how the biodigester works. Photo credit: Impact Bioenergy.
Concrete pour. Credit: Sellen Construction.

Meanwhile, Sellen Construction worked with a local concrete supplier to figure out the carbon content of more than 80 types of concrete, so that they could choose lower-carbon options in their projects. They made this information freely available so that other companies can also make informed choices and lower their impact.

Virginia Mason learned that the use of just one kind of inhaled anesthesia—desflurane gas—was alone responsible for nearly 5% of the hospital system’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Using desflurane for one hour of surgery has been estimated to have the same climate change impact as driving a car for as much as 470 miles. The anesthesiology team determined last year that outside of a few neurological cases, alternatives could be used that cost the same, provided the same benefits for patients, and had a lower environmental impact. Now, this kind of anesthesia is used 90% less often at Virginia Mason than it was before.

Stevens Pass Mountain Resort’s new lot is free for cars with four or more people. Photo credit: Stevens Pass.

I also heard stories about actions that are replicable and easy—both for other businesses and for us as individuals. For example, Stevens Pass Mountain Resort incentivizes skiers to carpool, and bus drivers to not leave their buses idling all day. Rick Steves’ Europe teaches classes about how to travel light, and doesn’t sell large suitcases. Less weight on the plane means less fuel is burned.

Tom Douglas Restaurants uses seasonal produce, including from their own farm in Washington State. Buying local produce cuts down on emissions from transportation.

Staff bring local produce from Prosser Farm to one of Tom Douglas’s restaurants. Credit: Sarah Flotard.

Additional stories—about innovative steps being taken by companies like Boeing, NBBJ, and Microsoft—can be found in the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Bright Green in an Emerald City report released last fall.

Senator Jackson was a pragmatist and a problem-solver. He cared about the environment—he played a leading role in the conservation and energy legislation in the 1960s and 1970s—and he also sought to promote economic development in our state. He recognized that those goals need not be contradictory. Washington businesses can learn from his vision and legacy, and from the actions being taken by businesses—like those highlighted here—who recognize that there is a business case for climate change action, and plenty of room for innovation to expand the solution set. I appreciate having had the opportunity through this leadership fellowship to explore this issue more deeply.

Nora Ferm Nickum is a 2017 Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellow and a Senior Associate at Cascadia Consulting Group.

The Jackson Foundation Reflects

We recently had a productive Annual Board meeting of the Foundation’s Board of Governors.  We took the opportunity to reflect on the year’s achievements as well as the challenges before us.

The values Senator Jackson stood for and cherished throughout his career underlie the entirety of the Foundation’s work.  These ideas have been woven into the fabric of our daily efforts – into decision making around our large strategic initiatives, choosing local organizations as partners for our smaller program grants, supporting students through academic fellowships at the University of Washington, and training the young professionals who serve as our Jackson Leadership Fellows.

While Senator Jackson’s core values still hold true today, in some corners they seem wholly forgotten.  The lack of trust in facts, as well as in government and civic institutions pervades many people’s thinking.  Yet at the Foundation, we continue to shine a light on Senator Jackson’s important and fundamental ideas.

All of the nonprofits with whom we work are reassessing their strategies, goals, impacts and focus in light of the November election.  Our conversation at the Annual Board meeting reminded us about what we believe to be urgent and important, as well as identified questions that might warrant more in-depth discussion later.

As always, we face some challenges when measuring the impact of our work.  In philanthropy, impact is always difficult to quantify and attribute, partly because of its frequent role as a marginal player in a large game.  The ultimate goal of philanthropy is leverage – the exercise of power indirectly through investment but also influence.

We believe that we have found leverage points in our work on climate and national security, in promoting democratic values and human rights in Russia, in supporting the Jackson School of International Studies and the development of a new generation of foreign policy scholars, and, finally, in our Jackson Leadership Fellows program, which actively promotes civil dialogue in the model of Senator Jackson.  Take a look at a short video we prepared which talks about our successes and looks ahead to how we are making a difference moving forward.

Thanks for your interest!

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Leadership for a World in Flux

The Henry M. Jackson Foundation periodically sponsors a lecture series that holds particular importance to it, as it honors the relationship between Senator Jackson and one of his long-time counselors in the environmental resources management and land use fields, Bill Van Ness.  Van Ness also served as the president of the Jackson Foundation for two decades. The series, the Jackson-Van Ness Lectures on Leadership, recognizes some of the key qualities shared by the two men, who worked together on legislation central to the Jackson legacy, including the National Environmental Policy Act.  Previous lecturers have included The Honorable William Ruckelshaus, one-time Attorney General of the U.S., and former Senator Slade Gorton.  A full list is here.

49
William Van Ness with a bust of Senator Jackson

In late November, the Foundation was fortunate to hear the latest lecture in the series from Ana Mari Cauce, the president of the University of Washington, on the subject of “Leadership for a World in Flux.” This timely lecture – held a few weeks after the stunning presidential election results — was a thoughtful reflection of Dr. Cauce’s own evolution as a leader and her advice for the thousands of young people under her charge.  As Foundation President John Hempelmann said in his introduction of Dr. Cauce, the new university president has shattered many glass ceilings in her own career, rising through the ranks to become the UW’s first woman, Latina and openly gay president one year ago.  As Cauce herself mused, she may not come to mind as a typical university leader.

jackson-fdn-hmj-bill-van-ness-lecture-series-on-leadershi68
U.W. President Ana Mari Cauce

President Cauce emphasized that in a university setting, leading with a more democratic and collaborative style is a given. Yet certain situations demand unilateral action, for example during a crisis or when a situation is critical, or when an issue represents a “non-negotiable core value.” She also highlighted the role of authenticity in leadership.  Authentic leadership requires self-awareness, self-monitoring and impulse control – all familiar concepts to a president who trained as a clinical psychologist.  She counseled, “Self-monitoring is so essential because as a leader your behavior sets the tone.”

jackson-fdn-hmj-bill-van-ness-lecture-series-on-leadershi75President Cauce has considered how to develop leadership skills in the next generation at the University, especially for those students who, like herself, may not be obvious leaders – either to themselves or to others.  She seeks to teach students “to practice leadership in whatever they do.”  Cauce concluded that, “Preparing as many people as possible with the skills to lead – lead themselves, lead their communities, to lead through crisis and to lead change will make our whole society stronger and, with a little luck, produce the kind of leaders our country and our world needs – now more than ever.

Please enjoy the audio from President Cauce’s lecture here or the full transcript on our website.  We have also linked to her own blog about the lecture here.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Jackson Leadership Fellows Inspire the Seattle Community

The Jackson Leadership Fellows program is having an impact that goes beyond our individual Fellows.  We’ve written about this before, but it keeps becoming clearer – our Fellows are reaching out to others, younger generations, new communities, and audiences.  Two great examples in the last few weeks:

The North Cascades Institute held a Youth Leadership Summit in October that the Jackson Foundation has helped to support for the past few years.  The Summit, held at the Mountaineers Seattle Program Center, brought together young participants in NCI’s programming for a day-long, intensive program highlighting new skills and connections for students.  This year, 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows Michele Frix, Matthew Combe, Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, and 2017 Fellows Alex Adams and Connor Birkeland worked together to lead two sessions for high school students on leadership skills and career development.  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave a surprise visit at the start of the day. The Foundation is pleased that our Jackson Fellows are reaching out to these young environmental leaders and providing models of community engagement.

Front row: Matthew Combe, Michele Frix, Tamara Power-Drutis, Tom Bugert, and in the back row Connor Birkeland and Alex Adams
Front row: 2016 Fellows Matthew Combe, Michele Frix, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Tom Bugert.  Back row: 2017 Fellows Connor Birkeland and Alex Adams

training-shotBoth the current and alumni Fellows enjoyed the event.  Michele Frix summed up the experience with the enthusiasm characteristic of our Jackson Fellows:

“It was truly a highlight of the year. I keep the Scoop Legacy book on my desk – a marked up copy where I have notes to myself on how his leadership style plays out in my day to day work. I have been going back to it more frequently as of late, to remind myself of what a servant leader looks, sounds and acts like. Sometimes when things gets busy, chaotic and challenging, it’s easy to revert back to a less thoughtful style of leadership. I have these little “WWSD” moments – what would Scoop do? And now after learning so much from the other fellows, these moments are often – what would other Scoop Troops do? The session we did with the young leaders was a poignant reminder of why I want to show up like a servant leader – every day, every moment, regardless of how challenging work gets.”

2016 Fellows Michele Frix (holding the Jackson Leadership book), Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Matthew Combe with NCI student participants
2016 Fellows Michele Frix (holding the Jackson Leadership book), Tom Bugert, Tamara Power-Drutis, and Matthew Combe with NCI student participants

And in late October, the Holocaust Center for Humanity, an organization that has received several grants from the Jackson Foundation, held its annual luncheon to raise support for the excellent educational programs that it provides to students and the community.  One of our 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows, Ilana Cone Kennedy, works as the Director of Education at the Holocaust Center.  Her Fellows’ project consisted of the creation of a Student Leadership Board, comprised of 30 high school students, who are now working closely with the Holocaust Center to reach other young people throughout the community.

Student Leadership Board Feb 2016 w Steve Adler cropThe big annual fundraiser featured several of these young Student Leadership Board members and their stories of how they had been moved to action by their engagement with the Holocaust Center under Ilana’s educational programming.  It was inspiring to see so many of these young people talking about the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust to them as they confront news stories about Syrian refugees, genocide in Sudan, and other modern challenges with historical resonance.  When Ilana conceived of the Student Leadership Board, she wanted to convey lessons about leadership that had inspired her in the Jackson Leadership Fellows program.

We are proud that the Jackson Leadership Fellows are reaching out to new audiences, doubling and tripling the impact of this important program.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Jackson School Attracts Young Global Leaders

The Jackson Foundation has a long and proud history tied to the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.  Our support for undergraduate and graduate student programming, faculty positions, conferences, visiting lecturers, and research has been at the core of the Foundation’s work since its inception.  The School was close to Senator Jackson’s heart, as it promotes new generations of leaders who will help our country understand the world and take part in America’s foreign policy establishment.

The School is always innovating, and we have been supportive in launching many of the new programs developed over the past decades.  The Master of Arts in International Studies, or MAAIS, a program created two years ago, is a great example of the reinvention and re-thinking at the School under the leadership of Jackson School director Resat Kasaba.  MAAIS is designed to attract early and mid-career professionals from all over the world who have an interest in a 10-month Master’s program that tackles critical global challenges in a pragmatic, policy-oriented manner.  Conceived as a way to connect the university community with the broader Puget Sound region – and all the expertise of its business, philanthropic, and policy circles – the program marries lectures, field visits, and group projects with in-depth international affairs education.

MAAIS Graduation
MAAIS 2016 Graduation Class

Seattle’s location and the excellence of the university draw the dynamic young individuals to this program.  The MAAIS Civic Council, created to support the students, consists of corporate, philanthropic, NGO, political and security sector figures from companies and organizations influencing global policy and decision making.  Recently I had an opportunity, along with a few other members of the Civic Council, to meet with the new MAAIS students from the 2016-17 class and talk about how we can connect them to the broader community.  Once again the students are diverse in every sense of the word – hailing from Afghanistan, China, New England, Hungary, the Pacific Northwest, and Pakistan, among other geographic origins – and representing interests from food security, disability rights, and international trade to journalism, diplomacy and humanitarian development.  Several of the students have had extensive careers in the military, and plan to return there once they’ve received their degrees.  They are experienced young professionals who hope to gain new skills from the MAAIS program, where they will find exposure to new ideas, technology, and a vibrant Seattle community of entrepreneurs and NGOs.

ISCNE China Delegation

The Jackson School is already a nationally-recognized leader in international affairs education.  This professionally-oriented new degree allows more students to take advantage of all the Jackson School has to offer and then go out and share what they’ve learned with the world.  The Foundation is proud to have made another grant of support to this important program just this week.

Read more about the MAAIS program and the wonderful cohort of students engaged at the School this year.  And tell young professionals about it as they consider navigating international affairs to move forward in their careers.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Meet the 2017 Jackson Leadership Fellows!

We are excited to announce the new class of the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program — our second — an initiative at the heart of the Foundation’s work.  The Fellows Program is intended to provide a small cohort of young professional leaders in the Puget Sound region with training, mentoring, and networking to build their skills.  The program is values-based:  it is founded on the principles that anchored Senator Jackson and that we believe translate to a younger generation.   Their enthusiastic, community-oriented, and passionate outlook invigorates all of us.  And we intend to keep them connected to the Jackson Foundation and the Jackson legacy.  We know you will be excited to learn more about who they are and how they will contribute to our region – and our nation – in the years ahead.

Collage_Fotor4copyThe 2017 class is diverse in so many ways, with Fellows drawn from the government, non-profit, academic, philanthropic, and business sectors.  We are certain the variety of viewpoints represented will help generate new ideas and new ways of solving problems.  The Fellows range in age from young 20’s to 40.  They share an enthusiasm for their careers:  this year’s class is engaged in natural resources management, climate, and renewable energy as well as rule of law, human rights, political communication, racial equity, and civil discourse.  It is that tremendous commitment to success – coupled with a desire to give back to the community – that has already made them stand out.

We hope to contribute to the continued development of these exceptional young leaders.  We will keep you informed on the work they are doing together and individually in the spirit and tradition of Senator Henry M. Jackson.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

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.

IMG_9233
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.

IMG_9264
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

“If we want justice, everyone’s voice needs to be heard.” Why Climate Equity Matters

I had the privilege this week of attending the first screening of a remarkable film made by two young people, Laura Stewart and Julian Kane.  Laura is one of our Jackson Leadership Fellows, and the film was her project for the Fellowship.  Julian is a graduate student at Antioch University.  The film, “Our Story:  Climate Justice and Environmental Justice,” showcased over twenty people from our community here in Puget Sound, voices that are not often heard in the debate and discourse on climate and the environment.  Laura’s intent in creating the film was to bring to the front of the table those communities disproportionately impacted by climate.  She interviewed leaders and activists at environmental, labor, and educational organizations who collectively raised the climate justice flag and conveyed a deep sense of urgency.  Laura and Julian were both brimming with enthusiasm and pride – as they should be – for the film that they created, for the stories they illuminated, for the discussion that their work engendered.  “We are two young people of color, and we just did it,” Laura proclaimed.

Laura Stewart, Roger-Mark De Souza, & Lara Iglitzin
Laura Stewart, Jackson Leadership Fellow,  Roger-Mark De Souza, Wilson Center, and Lara Iglitzin

The film is inspiring, in part because it is made by and gives a megaphone to many young people, often people of color, finding allies in their efforts to save the planet from climate warming.  It is also a call to action for all of us who want to see communities of color empowered.  Short interviews in the film include Running Grass, from the Three Circles Center, Jourdan Imani Keith, from the Urban Wilderness Project, Aiko Schaefer with Front and Centered (Communities of Color for Climate Justice), and Sudha Nandagopal, from the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment.

IMG_8495

Roger-Mark De Souza, an expert on democracy, environmental security, climate and international development, and a frequent Jackson Foundation partner through his role at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., moderated a lively and thoughtful discussion with those present.  “What side of history do you want to be on?” one of the participants asked the film audience.  “We have an obligation to chart a cleaner future” for ourselves and our children, another argued.  The film also stimulated a broader dialogue about privilege, elites, and diversity.  Audience members felt the film should be seen widely, and Laura agrees.  She is urging people to share it on social media and take ownership of it so it can be viewed as much as possible.  There is also talk of a lesson plan, as early viewers felt that the film speaks in an accessible manner for young students.

We are proud of our Jackson Fellow Laura Stewart – she has made a film that will get people talking, and acting, on climate justice.  Congratulations!

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

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