Monthly Archives: February 2021

A Jackson Fellow’s Project: The Nature of Youth Leadership

During their cohort year, Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellows create a leadership project of their choice. These projects deepen the Fellows’ learning, provide a way to give back to the community, and advance leadership in their fields. Projects have ranged from a white paper on Senator Jackson’s relationship building to an event to draw high school youth to maritime industry careers. One Fellow developed her project into a book on how to bridge the political divide.

2020 Jackson Fellow Lacie West’s project on the Nature of Youth Leadership is a great example.  As Executive Director of the Service Board (tSB), a youth development organization, Lacie interviewed the Service Board’s youth leaders to learn how their views of leadership resonated with Senator Jackson’s model as outlined in the Foundation’s publication, The Nature of Leadership: Lessons from an Exemplary Statesman. This book highlights the Senator’s key values and principles, which includes being: Inquisitive, Visionary, Diligent, Pragmatic, Open, Honest, Determined, and Inspiring.

Lacie found the experience enlightening. She shares her thoughts and key takeaways from her interviews in this video, and her findings about each of the values are summarized below.

Leader = Inquisitive?  According to her youth leaders, a great leader asks lots of questions. Senator Jackson respected history and valued others’ expertise. He sought out information and experts who knew more than he did. The youth thought this separates a good leader from a great leader, knowing that you don’t know everything.

Leader = Visionary? Senator Jackson’s ability to see the big picture made him a successful guide for others to follow. All of the youth agreed that big-picture thinking allows you to see the future you want to create and to execute adaptable plans. Things can change quickly, so having different versions of your plan are a must to reach your goals.

Leader = Diligent? Senator Jackson  did his homework and valued his team. Several of the youth discussed the importance of working as a team to motivate each other to get things done. One high school senior said that great leaders want to succeed not for themselves, but for the sake of others; it’s a selfless act. She felt that Senator Jackson’s appreciation of others’ work reflected his diligence as a leader.

Leader = Pragmatic? Most of the youth indicated that leaders need to effectively solve problems by asking questions and getting feedback from others on the team, even those who don’t necessarily speak up frequently. One recent high school graduate shared, “leaders have to be willing to meet with others.” They have to want to do it, not just because it is their job. Senator Jackson motivated others by understanding what they valued.

Leader = Open? Senator Jackson respected others who did not necessarily agree with him.  Being open to understanding someone else allows for inclusiveness. One youth leader simply put it as “respect.” Another said, “You have to earn others’ respect for them to trust you.”

Leader = Honest? Senator Jackson set high standards for himself, including sticking with his beliefs and honoring the truth. The youth leaders connected honesty with courage, believing that great leaders must be courageous enough to speak the truth while knowing it might not be popular. Great leaders also must be brave to bring their true selves to every conversation and situation.

Leader = Determined? According to all the youth interviewed, great leaders must be responsible when making decisions because they affect many people around them. They have a responsibility to do what is best for others. All the youth leaders agreed that having and setting goals are important in leadership. And those goals should be realistic, organized, and prioritized.

Leader = Inspiring? One student put it best when he said, “Leaders have to fully believe in what they are trying to achieve.” If you do not believe in what you are doing, how will others believe in it? Senator Jackson knew how to get the best people on his team and keep them. The youth pointed out that inspirational leaders know how to make connections and focus on the community.

The values and principles that the Senator embodied endure today, as shown by this project. To read more of Lacie’s reflections, you can access her project here.

Aleksei Navalny and the Importance of Human Rights Sanctions

Last month marked my one-year anniversary with the Jackson Foundation. One aspect that particularly drew me toward the Foundation is its human rights’ focus, particularly regarding Russia. The Foundation has sponsored events with leading Russia experts and has supported the Global Magnitsky Act, a key element for human rights, which we see in action right now.

Aleksei Navalny and the Kremlin

In October, the Foundation sponsored a Seattle World Affairs Council event with Catherine Belton. Belton published a meticulously researched book about Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, his KGB roots, and corruption in the Kremlin. When asked what might weaken Putin, Belton’s response focused on Aleksei Navalny.

Navalny has presented the biggest threat to Putin for some time, and Belton suggested that Navalny’s recent poisoning demonstrates the fear he’s generating in the Kremlin. He chose to return to Moscow last month, and his team released a two-hour video on Putin’s corruption and his $1.3 billion Black Sea estate – a brave and dangerous move. After his immediate arrest, Navalny received a two-year sentence to a labor camp on trumped-up charges.

Putin doesn’t typically respond to allegations, so it’s notable that he denied ownership of the estate. Now over the past several weeks, with hundreds of millions having watched this video, we’ve seen the biggest protests in Russia in years as citizens demand Navalny’s release and an end to the corruption.

Why does this concern the Jackson Foundation?

Our involvement in human rights is rooted in the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which tied the Soviet Union’s economic trade status to the freedom for Soviet Jews to emigrate. Freedom of emigration is a tenant of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Jackson-Vanik Amendment secured this freedom for millions of Soviet Jews.

Decades later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Congress passed the 2012 Magnitsky Act to succeed Jackson-Vanik. This act – named for Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who exposed corruption in Russia and subsequently died in jail – was created to penalize individuals involved in Magnitsky’s arrest and death. In 2016, Congress expanded the legislation into what’s commonly called the Global Magnitsky Act. This sanctions program holds individuals accountable for human rights abuses and gross corruption worldwide, by freezing their assets in the U.S. and blocking their ability to obtain U.S. visas. And by targeting individuals, these sanctions do not punish an entire country for government corruption and abuses, as Michael McFaul recently noted.

What continues to surprise me is that, despite serious human rights failings in our own country, the U.S. can still set a positive example. Other countries have been using the Global Magnitsky Act as a model for their own legislation. And the Foundation has partnered with Human Rights First as it gathers and submits evidence for use by the U.S. government in leveling sanctions. Human Rights First also informs other countries interested in developing Magnitsky-like programs. In direct response to Navalny’s arrest, several more countries may enact their own version of the Magnitsky Act.

What now?

On Jan. 29, Navalny’s nonprofit, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, urged President Biden to apply sanctions to 35 Russians who are known as key figures in the Kremlin’s corruption scheme, as well as human rights abusers and persecutors of Navalny and his supporters. This letter underscores the importance of the Global Magnitsky Act: “Sanctioning these individuals – freezing their assets, barring them from entering the U.S. and from doing business with American companies – would create a substantial cost for their actions and serve as a deterrent to other members of the political and business elite. It would be a powerful way to encourage change.”

The Jackson Foundation recently adopted a set of strategic goals that includes a specific outcome: the reauthorization of the Global Magnitsky Act, which is due to sunset in December of next year. In fact, a bipartisan bill was just introduced in the U.S. Senate to achieve this. We are heartened to see this first step toward strong, effective legislation that will remain in place as long as needed. And we invite you to join our efforts to uphold human rights around the globe.

Katy Terry

Executive Director