Tag Archives: Seattle City Club

20 Years as Executive Director – Looking Back, Looking Forward

Lara Iglitzin headshot arms sm fileThis week marks 20 years for me at the helm of the Jackson Foundation.  I’m proud and honored to have served as Executive Director for two decades.  During my tenure, I’ve had the good fortune to work with my dedicated Board members and great staff on any number of meaningful activities.

My personal highlight reel includes a 1995 Jerusalem conference celebrating the ground-breaking Jackson-Vanik Amendment  — which helped over a million Soviet Jews emigrate from the USSR.  That conference attracted hundreds of Soviet Jewish emigres now living in Israel as well as a host of Israeli and American politicians, including the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, who was assassinated only months later.  Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on Senator Jackson’s legislation and the story behind it, that conference had tremendous significance for me.  The famous Jewish dissident from the Soviet era, Natan Sharansky, worked closely with us on the conference, and our Chairman, Helen Jackson, joined us in Jerusalem.  It was unforgettable.

Helen Jackson, Lara Iglitzin, and Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem in 1995

I’ve also reflected on the role that the Foundation has played to strengthen the Jackson School at the University of Washington.  Dozens of policy conferences, graduate fellowships, the Jackson Professorship, the Golub Chair, lecture series, the new PhD program, the Helen Jackson Chair in Human Rights – we’ve helped usher in key changes at the Jackson School.  As a graduate of the School, it has meant a lot to me to help the University do what it does best:  provide first-class education to young people, in this case our future leaders in international policy.  It has been a richly rewarding relationship, one that makes me highly value the intellectual depth of the faculty at the Jackson School.

Lara meets with Jackson School students
Lara meets with Jackson School graduate students this fall.

We started supporting human rights in Russia over 20 years ago – after the break-up of the Soviet Union.  In the more than two decades since, we’ve watched the ups and downs of civil society in Russia with alarm, and our grant making and programs have changed dramatically in response to events.  That’s a sadness to remark upon, given the downward trend in rights under Putin’s Russia.  We are still raising our voice on that front, however! Last year we brought a group of civil society leaders from Russia to Seattle and Washington, DC under a grant from the U.S. State Department.  This trip was inspirational for the delegation and continues to provide encouragement and ideas for these dedicated individuals back in Russia today.

Jackson Foundation 2014 Russian NGO Delegation
Jackson Foundation 2014 Russian NGO Delegation in Seattle

Lately we have two new programs which have galvanized the Board and staff:  the first is helping to lend our resources and intellectual fire-power to the climate change world, focusing particularly on the national and global security implications for the U.S. around climate.  The Jackson name lends credence and balance to discussions on this critical issue.  We are helping to leverage our work by highlighting the military viewpoint and bringing other foundations to the table.  This is a new area for me and it has been wonderful to be challenged to learn more about the climate field.

Washington D.C. Climate Change and National Security Briefing
Washington D.C. Climate Change and National Security Briefing

Second, we have launched an initiative to train a new generation of Jackson-inspired young people, with the launch of the Jackson Leadership Fellows Program.  It’s been invigorating to choose and begin to mentor the eight outstanding young professionals who comprise our first class here in Seattle.  I’ve been energized by my interactions with each of them and feel it is one of the most exciting initiatives that the Foundation has embarked upon.

Jackson Fellows with Anna Marie Jackson Laurence and Foundation President John Hempelmann
Jackson Fellows with Anna Marie Jackson Laurence and Foundation President John Hempelmann

It’s easy for me to think of the extended Jackson community as a family – one that includes our Board members, past and present, as well as former and current staff members of the Foundation, and “Scoop’s Troops” – those who worked with Jackson on his own staff or on one of his committee staff positions.  It also comprises our many partners and grantees over the years, at the Jackson School, the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Kennan Institute, City Club Seattle, and countless other colleagues.  It’s an engaging group and one that has a remarkable cohesion because of the respect for Senator Jackson that unites everyone.  It has made this a great place to work.

One thing I’ve learned at the Foundation over the course of the last twenty years– while the specific programs may change, the work in international affairs, environment and energy, human rights and public service still are highly relevant in today’s world.

I look forward to working together with all of you to carry on the Jackson legacy.  I hope you’ll get in touch.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Engaging Citizens in Seattle’s Civic Life

In early August, the Jackson Foundation will partner with Seattle CityClub for the second time this year to present its latest Civic Boot Camp series. The day-long program targets young adults and new arrivals to the city and is a fast-paced course into local history, culture, and politics. The Jackson Foundation supported the program to help CityClub engage new populations into the civic life of our community, and, in so doing, to promote some of the values that Senator Jackson embodied.

May Boot Camp Participants
May Boot Camp Participants

During the day, Civic Boot Camp visit​s​ key historical and civic institutions​, hears from civic leaders in the region, networks, ​develops participants’ civic skills, and gives them tools to design their own personal plan for civic engagement. Diane Douglas, Executive Director of Seattle CityClub, says “the partnership with the Jackson Foundation is a natural fit; Civic Boot Camp was envisioned to start conversations, build knowledge, and ignite civic action. This program has done just that.”

In the spirit of Senator Jackson, Boot Campers gain an in-depth appreciation of the history around an issue in our region and have the chance to practice civic leadership skills. CityClub provided the historical curricula and the Jackson Foundation provided the civic tools to activate people’s inspiration into action.

A Visit to a South King County Nonprofit
A Visit to a South Seattle Nonprofit

While the core curricula of each Civic Boot Camp program is to instill in its participants the knowledge of how civic leadership and participation shapes our community, ​CityClub narrows down the discussion around a chosen theme. In May, Civic Boot Camp focused on​”Local/Global Seattle” and highlighted the history of the “American dream” across King County as it relates to equity and demographic change. As part of a panel luncheon discussion, participants listened to  ​civic leaders in South King County working to support civic health in immigrant communities and answered difficult questions about how to achieve equity across our community.

In two separate days in August, Civic Boot Camp will take place along Seattle’s downtown waterfront and will focus on the history and politics surrounding the downtown waterfront development plans. Participants will get a guided tour of waterfront sites from a local historian from the nonprofit HistoryLink, visiting the Pike Place Market, Olympic Sculpture Park and the Port of Seattle, and as at all Boot Camps, learn about philanthropy, social services, and opportunities for civic engagement in the region. A panel discussion will feature representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Pike Place Market Foundation, and the Port of Seattle.

Throughout each day, the Foundation’s publication The Nature of Leadership  ​helps Boot Campers identify ideal civic leadership traits in the leaders with whom they interact, and importantly, in themselves as public citizens. Participants wrestle with hard questions to evaluate their own civic engagement strategies: “How do you seek out partnerships to solve problems? How do you learn from others? What do you do in your community to build trust and motivate others?” With the Senator Jackson leadership story before them, participants have a valuable resource to explore their own civic engagement goals.

Sharing civic stories and learning about our community’s past is integral to the Civic Boot Camp mission. Christina Billingsley, CityClub’s coordinator for the Civic Boot Camp program, notes “The partnership with the Jackson Foundation and CityClub has provided an innovative platform for newcomers to the region and young people to get connected, appreciate our past, and become better informed about their own political choices and civic involvement.” The Foundation and CityClub hope Boot Campers will continue the conversations started here and translate this knowledge to improve civic health across King County. The Jackson Foundation is proud to be part of this effort to engage young people, new immigrants, and diverse populations into the heart of civic life in the Seattle community.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Why We Care About Civil Discourse

Our legacy compels us to honor the idea of crossing the political aisle to get things done, whether it be in Washington, DC or in any of the states of this nation.  The Jackson Foundation has held a number of sessions promoting civil discourse, with a particular emphasis on bipartisanship in the U.S. Congress and civic engagement and respectful dialogue here at home in Seattle, Washington.  Earlier this week we held a packed, public forum with Seattle CityClub where we combined our two target areas, featuring U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-Washington State) and Dave Reichert (R-Washington State) in conversation with long-time political journalist Robert Mak. Enjoy the full dialogue below:


Congressmen Kilmer and Reichert reflected on the obstacles to political progress on issues from solving the budget deficit to finding common ground on affordable health care.  Both stressed that voting for what is right – rather than just blindly following party allegiances – helps to center them in their work on the Hill.  “I’m a thinker,” Reichert stressed, “and I use my skills learned from when I was a detective to figure out the facts on an issue.  That helps lead me to where I can take a stand.”  Kilmer, who has only been on the Hill for a few years, meets monthly with a bipartisan group of his peers to seek consensus, and, presumably, friendship that allows bonds to form beyond political ideologies and interests.  “When people ask me if I am frustrated by gridlock on the Hill, I tell them that I don’t think that’s an acceptable reaction,” Kilmer explained.  “I am motivated.  I intend to accomplish something.  I am not interested in wasting time.”

Both lawmakers impressed the crowd.  The gathering was intended to highlight how the Washington State delegation can serve as a model for civil discourse in today’s fractured political environment.

Lara Iglitzin