KWAJELYN JACKSON, C'02
KWAJELYN Is 9-to-5 AND Then Some: "I am the Community Education & Advocacy Director at Feminist Women’s Health Center (FWHC) in Atlanta, GA. At FWHC, I manage a six person team responsible for volunteer engagement, leadership development, education programs, community outreach, and legislative advocacy work to improve reproductive health, rights, and justice in Georgia. I most often think of myself as an organizer, someone who works to both support and equip other activists. I am a talker and a planner. I like developing programs, thinking about impact, plugging people in places where they can shine and be their best selves, but I am also willing to just show up where I am needed."
@SuperKwa's Side Hustle is Helping Others: "I wish I had a legitimate side-hustle. I have attempted and failed more than I’d like to admit. I sit on four boards (All-Options, Abortion Care Network, Soul Food Cypher, and ProGeorgia) and a steering committee (for the Black Mamas Matter Alliance) outside my full-time job, so my time is very occupied. But in my actual free time I deeply enjoy sleep and television. Sleep is extremely important to me. After sleep, my biggest pastime is probably vintage shopping."
How Does KWAJELYN 'Play The Game' And Not 'Hate The Playa'?: "I am pretty good at developing relationships, and that serves me well in my work. I am a great talker and a great listener. I process and solve problems verbally, talking through what I want to accomplish. I like to meet with people and work collaboratively, which also comes in very handy in my role. My work is very much about replacing myself in the movement, with new leaders with new ideas and new energy. That’s the game I am playing."
#SpelmanBlackGirlBrilliance Is Shining, Shining, Shining: “One of my proudest moments was in 2016 when we held an art exhibit inside the Georgia State Capitol called Typical American Families to highlight our first piece of proactive legislation called the Strong Families Resolution. In order to elevate the voices of GA families, Strong Families and FWHC partnered with artists Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Grant to expand upon their photography project Typical American Families, and show the stories (with both portraits and testimonials) of our families and the challenges they face. We built upon their initial premise and explored the complex realities of families across metro Atlanta, exploring what their families need to thrive and the barriers they must overcome. The stories are centered on reproductive justice, health care access, economic challenges, discrimination, documentation status, age, incarceration, and other common challenges that are facing families. We also highlight how intersectional identities, like race, class, and gender, as well as family composition, affect a family’s ability to access the resources they need to thrive in a state like Georgia. The initial exhibition in February 2016 featured families selected by community partners SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, Racial Justice Action Center member groups Women on the Rise and LaGender, Forward Together’s Echoing Ida program, and FWHC’s Lifting Latina Voices Initiative, as well as portraits from the original artists’ collection. These were families with single parents, interracial, multi-ethnic, and interreligious families, chosen families, queer families, trans families, and families separated by incarceration. The photos were displayed in the State Capitol Rotunda for legislators and the general public to view. Though the resolution didn’t pass, we had an incredible day bringing voices into the State House that are not heard there often enough, speaking their truth.”
"While None Of These Are Perfect Sources...": “I would probably consult VerySmartBrothas.com. I do occasionally read Awesomelyluvvie.com as well. I would weigh the two of these pretty close to one another, but Luvvie tends to be a longer read to get to the content. In reality, I use Twitter as my primary source with NPR as a very close second.”
KWAJELYN Has Many Vulcan Chess Moves: “In addition to my role at FWHC, I sit on the steering committee of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, a Black-woman led cross-sectoral alliance. We center Black mamas to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice. The Black Mamas Matter Alliance serves as a national voice and coordinating entity for stakeholders. We intentionally center Black women’s leadership. Black women have the knowledge, expertise, and skills to generate and implement solutions that will improve maternal health, rights, and justice, but sometimes lack the platforms necessary to support and amplify their work. The Black Mamas Matter Alliance helps to increase the visibility of Black women leaders; cultivate a deep bench of Black women leaders recognized for their expertise, contribution, and work; and supports more effective collaboration of stakeholders in Black maternal health. Shifting the trend and saving the full lives of Black Mamas across the country is my next and biggest target. ”
Bottomless Brunch or Happy Hour Tapas?: “My partner and I go to the original Flying Biscuit nearly every weekend. The staff there know us by name, know our orders, and treat us like family. That goes a long way. I also really enjoy Petit Marche, when I have the energy and stamina to stand in their ever present weekend line.”
I want others to find their shine and succeed. My work is very much about replacing myself in the movement, with new leaders with new ideas and new energy. That’s the game I am playing.