Last year, we began partnering with the Wilson Center on a set of activities to promote state climate policy successes. The idea was to highlight these achievements as a way to spur national action. In June, we sponsored a great event featuring climate policy action in Washington, California, and Louisiana.
Following up from that event, the Wilson Center recently published an article by Jackson Leadership Fellows Stephanie Celt and Leah Missik in its blog, New Security Beat. Their piece, The Powerful Policy Ripples of Washington State’s CETA, focuses on the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA), the ground-breaking climate legislation that Washington State passed last year. Stephanie and Leah described the broad coalition that formed to advance the bill and how CETA is part of a set of coordinated climate policies in Washington. Leah and Stephanie highlighted lessons learned about coalition building and how devising policies with innovative labor and equity considerations can work.
The growing collaboration between our staff, Jackson Fellows, and Board Members helps us be a stronger partner. We appreciate Stephanie and Leah stepping up to write this article and representing the Foundation and Washington so well!
Jackson Leadership Fellows generate a project as part of their cohort year to advance their leadership skills and contribute to their communities. 2022 Jackson Leadership Fellow Mollie Price teaches social studies and serves as the support lead for English Language Learners. She shared the story of her project at Hazen High School in Renton, Washington:
Midway through this school year, I stood in my high school’s library listening to reflections on service leadership that were exactly – I mean ex-act-ly – what I needed. Droplets of wisdom, inspiration, reflection, hope.
For my Jackson Leadership Project, I designed and piloted a service leadership program for my 10th grade Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class, which helps students develop skills to be successful in college. Guidance from my Jackson Fellows cohort and staff, resources from Leadership Tomorrow, and suggestions from my teacher colleagues aided my effort.
Over six weeks, students worked on being present for a community that’s meaningful to them – everything from a basketball team, to a racial or national identity, to a friend group. The students determined what their community needed from them, used librarian-guided research as well as interviews with friends, peers, family members, coaches, mentors, and siblings to figure out how to develop skills to support their community. At the end, they implemented what they’d learned: through trial and error they developed tangible service leadership skills, put them into practice for their community, and shared their learnings.
This project was ostensibly for my students – I want them to be the future leaders of everything! – but with the gift of hindsight, I know that the project was equally – if not more so – for me. The anxiety and decidedly unromantic ennui that permeated much of this school year was, um… a lot. I needed to give my students a sense of agency, power, and compassion. And the students came through, as they always do.
While I can’t realistically link to all of their final project presentations (much as I would like to!) I asked some of my students to share reflections about how this project influenced their understanding of leadership. It’s tough to describe fully the feeling of being in the room with brilliant, funny, loud, kind 15- and 16-year-olds who are not broken, who are not hopeless, who are ready to tackle the future, but I think their words will give you a taste.
Ever since I was a little boy… I wanted to be hidden on the sidelines. I mean all that attention and responsibility seemed like a handful to a young, reserved kid like me. And I can guess that many people like me are rocking in the same boat, wishing to make a big difference in the world, but too afraid to take that step forward. To me, a leader always seemed magical, charismatic, and overflowing with confidence that someone like me could never achieve, but maybe my perception of great leadership was skewed in the wrong direction. Maybe leadership isn’t about the person that’s leading, getting all the accolades, but about being a servant to the community by taking a step back and listening to the people who need help the most. – Eric Tran
Over the last year or so, I’ve come to realize how important it is to establish a good relationship with your community in order to effectively guide and be there for them. I want to be the kind of leader who works with their community instead of against it. – Brooklyn Salkin
I used to lack the motivation to be a better leader because I used to think that leadership was just natural. I used to think everyone could just snap* and boom, be a leader. It turns out that you need to put in more work if you want to be a good community leader for any community that you’re representing… You would think I would have a solid definition on what the word leadership means but I don’t. [Through this project] I got a solid view of what my communities want for now, but this view can change every day and they can change as my community grows and I grow with them. I learned that a good leader is good at connecting with others, but a good leader is also someone who is able to adapt with their perspective community as they grow and reform themselves. – Luis Morales
At first, I thought that leaders solely existed so that they could keep a group in check and advance through steps, but throughout the course of this trimester, I found out how incorrect I was. I realized that there is much more to it than I initially thought. In the beginning of the school year, we did an activity where we as a group, defined what we thought being of service and what being a leader meant. By doing this activity, I found out that there are a lot more similarities between being of service and being a leader than I thought there were. – Amiroh Selah
I developed my skill mainly because I saw what my community lacked and I wanted to make an impact, specifically talking about my high school community. The pandemic was definitely a big factor in this. Students are very segregated and either have their own little groups, or don’t talk to anyone, and I saw how it was affecting people, including me. I always imagined high school to be like those cute videos you would see on YouTube or Facebook of people in their high school years, and the whole high school would be a big family. But I didn’t expect our generation to be the complete opposite of that. I learned that you need to be patient. It’s a long process, and you need to stick around and stick to your values in order to see the outcome you want. You need to work hard, and work with others. Be a team member not just a leader. Serve the community, not just your own needs. – Michelle Miteva
At the start of this project, I believed that the definition of community leadership is growing and developing into the best possible version of yourself to serve your community, but I no longer believe that due to no longer believing that the best version of yourself exists. Because no matter how much growth and development you go through, you are still a human being who is bound to make mistakes. I now believe that community leadership means trying your best every day to make a difference. – Ems Ku
We commend Mollie for developing this program, which advances the Foundation’s goal to promote Jackson leadership values to younger, diverse generations.Given its success, this pilot project will now become part of the curriculum, to the benefit of several hundred students.
The elections earlier this month—from local to national—were arguably the most important of our lifetimes. The outcomes will disproportionately affect young people who can’t yet vote, but whose lives and futures are impacted by climate change, racial justice, public health, and beyond.
How might we engage young people in this election and in civic life more generally, when they can’t vote or make campaign contributions? How might we make civic engagement captivating, community oriented, and fun for people of all ages?
As a 2019-2020 Jackson Fellow and someone committed to effective, equitable systems-level action to address climate change and racial injustice, I felt inspired to take on these questions through both my Fellowship project and my role as Director of Environmental Education & Sustainability at The Northwest School.
In spring 2020, I developed Civics & Swing States, a free 4-week program aimed at mobilizing young people to meaningfully engage in the 2020 elections. To design the program, I began with the questions:
What would compel someone to care about government?
What might inspire a high school student to devote their free time to civic engagement?
What was my motivation for better understanding policy making processes, and how did my journey evolve to include working on climate policy for seven years?
Civics & Swing States Program
This led to designing the Civics & Swing States program from the inside out. I began with personal identity and family history by asking, “How might your identities and family history impact your perception of government and your engagement in elections?” Then I asked participants to identify what issues they care about and why, which segued into how government and policy impact these issues. From there, we could easily find the interest to examine the demographics of elected officials, the structure of government, voter turnout and voter suppression, the Electoral College, campaign finance, and communications and rhetorical framing.
In addition to laying the groundwork for examining personal identity and the issues one cares about, I also framed the program with two overarching existential questions: “What does it mean to have a democracy on stolen land?” and “What does it mean to have a democracy built on the backs of enslaved people?” I wanted to encourage participants to jump back and forth between their personal scales and the national and global scales, as well as current and historical time periods.
But I wondered, would anyone even show up for such a program? And would people stick it out through all eight sessions? I wasn’t entirely sure….
Yes! I ended up facilitating four sections of Civics & Swing States, two during the summer and two during the fall, to roughly 130 people. While designed for high school students, I opened the program up to anyone who was interested. The groups I facilitated had participants ranging in age from 12-79 years old, including students, faculty, parents, and friends from The Northwest School, the greater Seattle area, and across the country.
The Civics & Swing States program has resulted in all sorts of beautiful unanticipated outcomes: high school and middle school students have organized phone banking sessions among their peers for months (they’ve called over 3,000 voters in swing states!) and shared their experiences with their communities; parents felt inspired by their children to take action; and faculty have built relationships across departments and roles. It’s also enabled people to transcend age and employment status, and to develop relationships with organizations and fellow humans beyond their immediate circles.
As evidenced not only by participation in the program, but in phone banking and campaign volunteering nationally, people are hungry for avenues to take action and shape their futures. At the same time, they seek cross-generational engagement, understanding, and to peel back the layers of themselves, their family history, and their government.
Available to the Public
With this interest in mind, I made all the Civics & Swing States materials free and publicly available on the program website. I encourage you to pull a group of family or friends together (virtually or physically distanced, of course) to learn and engage.
The 2020 election has been a rallying call for civic engagement across demographics. We must sustain our efforts far beyond Election Day. When people of all ages engage civically, we strengthen our communities, our understanding, and our commitment to take action for a present and future in which we can all thrive.
I found inspiration to create this program with the support of the Jackson Fellows Program and the Jackson Foundation, to whom I am immensely grateful. The community of Fellows, Foundation staff, and board members has been invaluable for bouncing around ideas, supporting me throughout the process, and joining as guest speakers during the Civics & Swing States program itself. Thank you!
Jenny Cooper, 2019-2020 Jackson Fellow and Director of Environmental Education & Sustainability, The Northwest School (Seattle, WA)
Please enjoy this guest blog post written by Jackson Leadership Fellow Dr. Christina Sciabarra.
The Jackson Foundation, in collaboration with NBR’s Pyle Center for Northeast Asian Studies, recently supported a small, private roundtable on the topic “U.S. China Policy at a Historic Juncture.” NBR held the high-level forum to highlight recent important research it had published and to use it as a basis for discussion among scholars, practitioners, diplomats, and policymakers. Board Member John Hempelmann offered introductory remarks on Senator Jackson’s commitment to connect policymakers with scholars to ensure that decisions were based on the most current and relevant research available. He noted the Senator’s particular focus and interest in China, and his engagement with the region throughout his tenure in the Senate.
Former Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, gave the keynote remarks. He addressed China’s global goals and ambitions as well as the internal challenges that would need to be considered going forward. Experts from NBR discussed their recently published works, which provide greater insight into the regional dynamics and the possibly changing global order due to an increasingly powerful China. Of greatest interest was the discussion regarding China’s cooperation with Russia to challenge U.S. influence and democratic norms. The roundtable resulted in a deeper understanding of how to engage with China and a few cautionary notes for the future.
My inclusion in the roundtable demonstrates the Jackson Foundation’s commitment to support the academic research community and ensure that fellows are engaged in the work of Senator Jackson’s legacy. I am very appreciative of the Foundation’s support of the Fellows (alumni and present) and the roundtable will inform my own research and work with students.
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.”
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.