The Jackson Foundation honored John Hempelmann, who recently stepped down from his post as Foundation Board President, at an evening event in downtown Seattle last week. In a room filled with Board members, Foundation staff, members of the community, John’s family, and an impressive contingent of Jackson Fellows, speakers lauded John for his “youthful and exuberant” spirit (in the words of Foundation Treasurer David Rostov).
Craig Gannett, the Foundation’s new Board President, expressed that after working alongside John for several years, he has been impressed with John’s optimism and energy to get things done, saying that John had succeeded in what he set out to accomplish. Craig praised him for exhibiting “great judgment in the Scoop Jackson tradition” – the highest praise that one former Scoop staffer can bestow on another.
Susan Wickwire, Foundation Vice President, spoke warmly of John’s inquisitive nature and his willingness to tackle new issues. “John is the first to say ‘Yes, we can do this,’ Susan stressed, adding that John believes in the Foundation’s work and has made our organization better.
Representing the many Jackson Fellows in the room, Alex Adams, 2017 Fellow, spoke of John’s willingness to mentor him and provide him with advice and connections to help him move forward professionally. “John has been an inspiration for all of the Fellows,” Alex said.
Anna Marie Laurence, the Foundation’s Secretary and Senator Jackson’s daughter, presented John with a bust of her father and said she was “deeply grateful for all of John’s hard work,” noting that this gift is an appropriate tribute for someone who has carried Scoop’s legacy forward.
I had the honor of presenting John with a plaque on the Foundation’s behalf, which called John “a fine public servant in the tradition of Senator Jackson.” In my own remarks, I spoke for the entire staff – current and former – who are so grateful for John’s unstinting support and passion for the work.
John then reflected on his ten years as president, crediting the Board and staff for what he termed our “joint” accomplishments. He graciously acknowledged the team effort for the successes we had over the last decade, such as creating the Jackson Fellows Program and watching it flourish; innovating in our grants program by relying more heavily on programs conceived and developed by the Foundation; reaching into new topic areas, such as the climate change and national security focus in our environmental area that has gained traction and national prominence; and sustaining our support of core U.W. Jackson School programming and developing new programs there such as the Master’s Program in Applied International Studies. John can truly be proud that all of these initiatives, and more, were nurtured and developed under his leadership.
At the reception we showed a short video tribute to John that showcased a few of our key grantees, board members, and Jackson Fellows. Watch the video to get a sense of the gratitude we all feel to this dedicated member of the Jackson Foundation extended family. Thanks once again to John for a job well done!