Many of you have heard by now of the Foundation’s exciting new initiative – a young leadership program called the Henry M. Jackson Leadership Fellows. We’ve just launched the inaugural class of this 9-month program, which will include leadership training, mentoring, networking, and substantive work on individual projects.
As we showcased in an earlier message, the class is outstanding. The word “inspiring” may sometimes be overused – but in this case I can honestly say that interviewing the 35 fellowship candidates filled me with hope for a time when our civic life will again ring with bipartisan discourse and engaged, active citizens. As one of the Foundation’s Vice Presidents, Craig Gannett, put it in welcoming remarks to the Fellows, “listening to all of you gives me optimism for the future.”
While we eventually chose only eight fellows, a few bright spots came through during the interview process. First, the candidates showed a tremendous interest in leadership – in all its facets – and a strong desire to learn the skills and attributes of great leaders. Second, they hunger to engage outside of work spheres and to connect more deeply with new colleagues and novel ideas. Third, these young professionals want to involve diverse aspects of our community into their work – both professionally and in their volunteer pursuits. Finally – and perhaps most heartening – they believe that Senator Jackson’s life and achievements can speak to this next generation. While many of the candidates did not previously know of Senator Jackson, they came to the interviews inspired by what they had read about him, especially in The Nature of Leadership book that we make available on our website.
The Foundation embarked on its new Fellowship program in part to reach out to the next generation and inculcate them with the Jackson values. The year has just begun – and yet it is already clear that those values – and the man behind them – remain relevant today.
We hope you will join us at some of the many events this year in which the Fellows will be involved.