Category Archives: Leadership

20th Century Historian Tells Students “Be Alert to threats to Democracy”

The Jackson Foundation and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies were fortunate to have brought major scholar and public intellectual Timothy Snyder, the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University, to Seattle to give a lecture. His recent book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, has resonated with a world-wide audience and has been published in a dozen countries. Along with this #1 New York Times Bestseller, he has written several other award-winning books on World War II and the Holocaust.

Snyder has become something of a rock star historian and activist with “On Tyranny,” since it speaks about the current threat to our democracy and the need to be aware, active, and on guard. Talking to an overflow crowd that had to be accommodated in a second large room at the University of Washington on a beautiful spring evening in late April, Snyder stressed that all of us share a duty to understand events and resist when warranted. Drawing lessons from Germany in 1933, he warned, “If we just react, it will be too late.” “People normalizing the new reality” is one of the hazards of today’s highly charged political environment.  “Politics involves consent,” Snyder cautioned. “If you decide this is just fine, it is hard to go back.”

Drawing on American history – and our founding fathers – he told the crowd to be wary of complacently assuming that our institutions can withstand any assault. He said, “Institutions won’t protect us on their own.” He encouraged the many students and community members present to ask themselves, “What can I do for institutions to make them stronger?”

As a historian steeped in European history, Snyder takes a broad view of what he sees as the diminution of democracy across the globe and the lapsing of democratic norms. “Swastikas on the wall matter today – even if they are on the Internet,” he reminded us. He voiced particular concerns about focusing on social media as opposed to true journalism, suggesting, “Find an investigative journalist and follow him or her. Subscribe to newspapers.”

Snyder riveted the crowd with his twenty lessons for today’s world and his description of the slide towards tyranny. He invited students to ask questions and they did. It was heartening to see the interaction and to witness the power of scholarship, activism, and this call to be awake and present in the real world rather than a virtual one.

We are proud to have partnered with the Jackson School to host this important scholar here in the Pacific Northwest.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

Washington State Attorney General Provides Leadership Tips to Jackson Fellows

When you decide to go into public service, you don’t usually expect a lot of glory. Particularly if you’re running for state attorney general. But fame and attention have caught up with Washington State’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, who recently sat down with our Jackson Leadership Fellows to talk about making tough decisions as a leader, learning from past failures and mistakes, and having empathy and understanding for your opponent’s position.

Why such acclaim for Attorney General Ferguson, who retains a good-guy, low-key and approachable persona despite being the focus of numerous hero stories? Ferguson has made Washington State one of the battlegrounds for court cases challenging the current Administration, most notably regarding the Muslim-ban for several countries directed by President Trump. Ferguson talked to the Fellows about the need to reach decisions quickly, even when one would prefer to have more time to sift through pros and cons. “Most of the time in leadership you’ll need to make hard and fast decisions,” Ferguson advised the Fellows. “You better get comfortable with it.” The Attorney General, who spent his young adult years as a chess champion, tends to see challenges through a chess prism. “Assess your losses first,” he counseled. “Be objective about your mistakes and learn from your defeats.”

Ferguson also places ethics at the top of his list of key leadership qualities. “Pay attention to your behavior;  your team is watching you,” he warned the Fellows. Character counts, he said. He emphasized, “There are clear lines to delineate right and wrong,” something that drives him as a politician and as a public servant. “Trust your instincts,” he stressed.

In conclusion, Ferguson urged the young Fellows to consider public service – be it full-time or part-time careers – as a valuable path in life. He was drawn to it in order to help people.

2018 Fellows with Attorney General Ferguson from left: Stephanie Celt, Stephen Robinson, Arianna Muirow, Joe Nguyen, Jeremy Wood, Danielle Granatt, and Christina Sciabarra

The Jackson Fellows were rapt as Ferguson discussed leadership challenges. They understood and valued his perspective on current political affairs. We are grateful to the Attorney General for sharing his views with our Fellows. He has sat down with every cohort of our program!

I think it’s fair to conclude that Bob Ferguson has used his public life well to date, and we can expect much more from him. He is truly a leader in the Jackson tradition.

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

Jackson Fellows March Forward As Changemakers

As part of our commitment to the Jackson Leadership Fellows program, we remain engaged with the alumni of the program and we intend to keep up that engagement in the years ahead.  All of our Fellows — past and present — are in a particularly vibrant moment of their careers.  They are changing jobs, they are trying new directions, they are getting promoted, and they are seeking new challenges and ways to make an impact in our communities.  As part of a continuing series of guest blogs, we asked Tamara Power-Drutis, a 2016 Fellow, if she could reflect on her own recent journey from Executive Director at Crosscut Public Media to her new position as Chief of Staff at Amplifier.  We’re excited to learn from Tamara what she has taken from the Fellowship year that helps her in this challenging new job.  She shares her personal reflections on this career shift below.
Tamara Power-Drutis

After being immersed in grassroots organizing for most of my life, several years ago I took a step away to approach change from a different angle. While activism gave me a sense of community and connection to like-minded individuals, it was the different-minded individuals I lacked a connection to.

I rarely saw the peace and justice movement cross ideological or political lines to engage in dialogue. That meant that when we did cross lines, the discussions often devolved into regurgitation of party lines and lofty platitudes rather than an open consideration of a different point of view. Difference of opinion was something to fear or fix rather than an opportunity to build a more informed solution. For my part, I became aware that I lacked the fundamental skills to engage in civil dialogue, and set out to have what became some of the most uncomfortable and necessary conversations of my life.

Tamara worked as Executive Director at Crosscut Public Media

While serving as the Executive Director of Crosscut Public Media — a Seattle nonprofit newsroom that aims to inform a public capable of solving the challenges of our time — I gained access to countless perspectives different from my own. They challenged my world-view, forced me to question my assumptions, and ultimately improved any solutions I became a part of. It was through this role that I became an inaugural Henry M. Jackson Foundation Fellow, an opportunity that continues to have a profoundly positive impact on my life.

Wilson Center event in Washington D.C. featuring 2016 Jackson Leadership Fellows

Beyond providing tangible tools and strategies to engage in dialogue and enact change, this fellowship connected me to a deeply-rooted network of leaders across sectors that I will collaborate with for the rest of my career. After the 2016 election, it was this cohort that I turned to for processing, problem-solving, and hope.

Like countless others, when I woke up on November 9, 2016, the path laid before my feet had shifted overnight. The system was finally changing. But rather than a shift toward equity, livable wages, reparations, or aggressive climate security, this shift was a plausible prologue to every dystopian novel I’ve read.

Resistance was, and remains, necessary. But I worried that traditional activism wasn’t open or pragmatic enough to pave the way. Luckily for me, quite a few people were ahead of me on the road to reinventing it. It didn’t take long for the skepticism to be wiped from my face when I showed up to the Women’s March in Seattle. This was something new. This was a movement with open doors.

Tamara, Chief of Staff, with her Amplifier Team

The way I found myself working at Amplifier — an experiment that provides visual tools to help movements reach beyond their core audiences to engage the broader mainstream — is the same story I’ve heard echoed from others on the team: I felt drawn in, as though a magnet were pulling me. While messages of bigotry and hate were being shouted from the highest office in our land, around every corner I saw images of hope. They called for us to be greater than fear, to defend dignity, to protect each other and be resilient and indivisible. I didn’t know the people behind this barrage of positive propaganda, but I carried them with me as I marched through the streets once again, and shortly thereafter signed on as their Chief of Staff.

I’m grateful to have an excuse to spend my days with a team attempting to reshape the American narrative and to refill the reserve of ideas and inspiration that fuel action. Every day at Amplifier I have opportunities to apply the skills, methods, and perspective I gained at Crosscut and as a Jackson Fellow.

The Henry M. Jackson Foundation is currently accepting applications for its third cohort, all of whom I look forward to partnering with in the coming years. While the program only accepts a handful of fellows each year, the Foundation continues to expand its programming and trainings to enable the kind of inquisitive, open, and honest conversations that are so necessary today.

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.

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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