When Blair Miller, Senior Fellow at Jackson, offered to host 40 people in her apartment in New York City for a student-run gathering on May 18, we knew that we had to accept her gracious invitation. The idea to gather alumni from the Greater New York region quickly gathered energy and we thought it could be a great conclusion to an eventful year for Jackson Women, the student-run initiative started in 2014. Since its launch by three then-first year M.A. students, Jackson Women has sought to create linkages between the women of the Jackson Institute, including faculty, fellows, students and staff. We invited current and former students and were lucky to be joined not only by Blair Miller, but also by Senior Fellows Amb. Rosemary DiCarlo and Sigridur Benediktsdottir. Our Director of Student Affairs and Admissions, Cristin Siebert, was also able to join.

We received enthusiastic responses to the invitations and the event was a full house—and incredibly beautiful house to boot. With generous help from Jackson, we provided drinks and food to our guests, who kicked off the evening mingling and meeting each other. Lissa Glasgo, Jackson MA ’17 and moderator extraordinaire, led a panel discussion, which concluded with a (coincidental but serendipitous) fireworks display through the window.

The feedback from our guests was very positive, with many guests looking to remain engaged with the greater Jackson community both intellectually and socially. The idea of linking women with varied ties to the Jackson Institute was also a popular one – the event was open to anyone with a loose affiliation to Jackson, whether they actually graduated from the Institute or not, in keeping with Jackson’s mission to be a center on and beyond campus for people with an interest in global affairs. Keep an eye out for more off-campus events in the next few years.

The 2017 class graduated a few days later and the three of us who led Jackson Women this past year—Nelly Mecklenburg, Lissa Glasgo and Emilie Leforestier—reflected on how lucky we had been during these two years. Jackson is a unique place where not only Senior Fellows invite you over for discussion and drinks, but where they also answer your questions earnestly no matter how hard, trivial or personal the topic. We’ve been able to host casual potlucks at our homes with World Fellows and Senior Fellows who we wouldn’t have dreamed of even meeting, organize career skills workshops we wish we had attended as undergraduates, and stimulate genuine and slightly uncomfortable conversations about bias and the role of men in gender equity. Jackson has been by our side every step of the way. I’ve personally lost track of the number of times I’ve stepped into Cristin Siebert (Director of Student Affairs and Admissions) or Elizabeth Gill’s (Director of Career Services and Alumni Engagement) offices with a guilty smile and a question starting with “I have an idea, but I don’t know how to make it happen…”

So to everyone who has joined or contributed to the Jackson Women group during the past two years, thank you for indulging us while we explore areas we’re passionate about, and to the Jackson Institute, thank you for supporting us, having an open mind, and making this community our home. We look forward to contributing further as alumni.