Transformational Mission Driven Leadership @ HJF

Since coming on board at the Henry Jackson Foundation (HJF) I have noticed a corporate culture defined by openness and inclusion and a leadership style that emphasizes personal transformation and contribution to a larger progressive vision. HJF is a non-profit that was established by congress to advance military medical research. Their intimate relationship with the armed forces creates a unique culture of service, without the same structural rigidity as the service branches. HJF has a clear mission- to provide the best research support to the men and women who are willing to lay down their lives for our freedoms. This sense of being a part of something larger serves to motivate employees, some of whom acknowledge that they could be making more money elsewhere but choose not to.

The organization embraces diversity and inclusion from top to bottom. There are more than 50% non-white employees, the executive officers are majority female, and the CEO is of Chinese and Puerto Rican descent. The CEO makes it his duty to be transparent and approachable. He hosts quarterly townhalls where employees can anonymously submit questions and concerns. The meetings and answers are then uploaded to the employee portal. The traditionally rigid corporate power structures are further blurred by the widespread use of first names and even nicknames, this even applies to individuals with doctorates and other prestigious titles. During our new employee orientation, the VPs came around to each table and introduced themselves. Upper management has been super open to connecting over coffee or lunch and I already have two lunches scheduled.

The CEO and my supervisors have made it clear that this is a place for employees to grow and reach their full potential down the road, whether that may or may not stay with HJF. They have organized skill development sessions for the interns and assigned all of us a capstone Process Improvement Presentation (PIP) that we will develop and deliver to executives. I have consistently been asked how I’m doing, what I want to get out of this experience, and if I would like more projects. I am excited for the rest of the internship, and if things go well potentially to work here full time.