As the ninth class of The Russell Family Foundation’s Jane’s Fellowship Program (JFP) comes to a close, we look back on a year-long journey well-traveled. The thirteen Class 9 Fellows celebrated their time together at Titlow Lodge, located near Titlow Beach, on land that had been historically stewarded by both the Puyallup and Steilacoom people. Coast Salish communities are vital stewards of these lands still today.
The graduation celebration included a look back on the things we explored and learned together, the bonds and alliances created across community sectors, identities, and cultures, and the time enjoyed showing up for one another when it mattered most. Through their experience with JFP, Fellows walked away with deepened perspectives and new frameworks of understanding around topics such as transformative justice, personal power, group power dynamics, adaptive leadership, and the embodiment of mindfulness. Each Fellow deepened and renewed their commitment to their communities, as outlined in their capstone mission/vision presentations.
The Class 9 Fellows now transition to the JFP Graduation Network. The Graduate Network has been busy, busy, busy—aside from welcoming the graduates of Class 9 into the now 100-strong group of JFP Alum, they are preparing for their sixth and final in-person event this year. The JFP Graduate Network Leadership Team, including Class 3 graduates Felita Pool and Ala Talo, have been hard at work reenergizing and engaging the network after such a long bout with COVID-19 and the subsequent “Zoom fatigue.” The Graduate Network leadership team has hosted several social and networking events at various spaces throughout Pierce County with an emphasis on creating opportunities for graduates to reconnect and share how the past two years have reshaped the ways we do grassroots community work. We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead of skills training, networking, and continuing to strengthen the graduate network.
Recruitment for Class 10 is well underway; our selection committee is hard at work reviewing applications for next year’s 12-month-long cohort. I am delighted to report that we received 37 applications, significantly more than during the height of the pandemic last year. Along with the typical methods of outreach such as graduate referrals, word-of-mouth sharing, and some strategically placed advertisements, we also employed a number of new recruitment strategies including using a local radio station, VT Radio Universal and an interview on Tacoma’s public access television program, CityLine, to promote the Class 10 application window.
We are looking forward to introducing Class 10 in January 2023, with up to 15 of Pierce County’s finest grassroots leaders.