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.
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.
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.
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.”
President 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.
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.
Both 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.”
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Continuing 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.”
The Fellows deeply appreciated the opportunity to engage with a leader like Attorney General Ferguson.
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.
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.
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!
The 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.
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.”
This week marks 20 years for me at the helm of the Jackson Foundation. I’m proud and honored to have served as Executive Director for two decades. During my tenure, I’ve had the good fortune to work with my dedicated Board members and great staff on any number of meaningful activities.
My personal highlight reel includes a 1995 Jerusalem conference celebrating the ground-breaking Jackson-Vanik Amendment — which helped over a million Soviet Jews emigrate from the USSR. That conference attracted hundreds of Soviet Jewish emigres now living in Israel as well as a host of Israeli and American politicians, including the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, who was assassinated only months later. Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on Senator Jackson’s legislation and the story behind it, that conference had tremendous significance for me. The famous Jewish dissident from the Soviet era, Natan Sharansky, worked closely with us on the conference, and our Chairman, Helen Jackson, joined us in Jerusalem. It was unforgettable.
I’ve also reflected on the role that the Foundation has played to strengthen the Jackson School at the University of Washington. Dozens of policy conferences, graduate fellowships, the Jackson Professorship, the Golub Chair, lecture series, the new PhD program, the Helen Jackson Chair in Human Rights – we’ve helped usher in key changes at the Jackson School. As a graduate of the School, it has meant a lot to me to help the University do what it does best: provide first-class education to young people, in this case our future leaders in international policy. It has been a richly rewarding relationship, one that makes me highly value the intellectual depth of the faculty at the Jackson School.
We started supporting human rights in Russia over 20 years ago – after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In the more than two decades since, we’ve watched the ups and downs of civil society in Russia with alarm, and our grant making and programs have changed dramatically in response to events. That’s a sadness to remark upon, given the downward trend in rights under Putin’s Russia. We are still raising our voice on that front, however! Last year we brought a group of civil society leaders from Russia to Seattle and Washington, DC under a grant from the U.S. State Department. This trip was inspirational for the delegation and continues to provide encouragement and ideas for these dedicated individuals back in Russia today.
Lately we have two new programs which have galvanized the Board and staff: the first is helping to lend our resources and intellectual fire-power to the climate change world, focusing particularly on the national and global security implications for the U.S. around climate. The Jackson name lends credence and balance to discussions on this critical issue. We are helping to leverage our work by highlighting the military viewpoint and bringing other foundations to the table. This is a new area for me and it has been wonderful to be challenged to learn more about the climate field.
Second, we have launched an initiative to train a new generation of Jackson-inspired young people, with the launch of the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program. It’s been invigorating to choose and begin to mentor the eight outstanding young professionals who comprise our first class here in Seattle. I’ve been energized by my interactions with each of them and feel it is one of the most exciting initiatives that the Foundation has embarked upon.
It’s easy for me to think of the extended Jackson community as a family – one that includes our Board members, past and present, as well as former and current staff members of the Foundation, and “Scoop’s Troops” – those who worked with Jackson on his own staff or on one of his committee staff positions. It also comprises our many partners and grantees over the years, at the Jackson School, the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Kennan Institute, City Club Seattle, and countless other colleagues. It’s an engaging group and one that has a remarkable cohesion because of the respect for Senator Jackson that unites everyone. It has made this a great place to work.
One thing I’ve learned at the Foundation over the course of the last twenty years– while the specific programs may change, the work in international affairs, environment and energy, human rights and public service still are highly relevant in today’s world.
I look forward to working together with all of you to carry on the Jackson legacy. I hope you’ll get in touch.