Women’s History Month Spotlight: Linda Jackson

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Linda Jackson

For Women’s History Month 2022, we are proud to spotlight Linda Jackson. Linda is the Director of the Marin Aging Action Initiative, President of the San Rafael City Schools Board of Education, and a Board Member of Sustainable San Rafael and the Marin County League of Women Voters.

Can you tell me about yourself and your background?
I was raised in the South Bay in a household with my parents and my Swedish grandmother, who immigrated to the United States alone as a young woman. My family valued fighting for racial and social justice, and I attended my first protest in support of the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers with my father and brother. In high school, I was invited to speak about Susan B. Anthony as part of the morning announcements. That was the start of a lifelong interest in learning about and speaking up about women’s issues.
After graduating from Wellesley College, I joined the Peace Corps and served two years in the mountains of Ecuador, where I organized and worked with ”clubs de amas de casa” or housewives’ clubs. After marrying another Peace Corps volunteer and starting my family, I pursued graduate degrees from the University of Texas in Community and Regional Planning and in Latin American Studies. I then moved back to the Bay Area and served as San Rafael City Planner for over two decades. When I retired from public service, I took on the challenge of building the Aging Action Initiative (AAI) in Marin.

Will you share a bit about the Aging Action Initiative (AAI)?

AAI is a unique collaborative network of public agencies, healthcare providers, community-based organizations, and educators in Marin, all working together for the well-being of older adults through the lens of aging equity. AAI’s programs include informational webinars, an annual convention, advocacy for age-friendly programs and policies, presentations to community groups about ageism, and local, county, and state initiatives to address the challenges facing older adults.

How did you become familiar with MCE?
MCE is a member of the AAI Steering Committee. As a public provider of renewable energy, MCE knows that older adults are supremely aware of the imperatives of lowering greenhouse gas emissions because they have seen the climate change over their lifetime. MCE speaks up about how the cost of utilities affects older people on limited incomes. MCE also understands the need for communications that are accessible to its many older customers.

How do organizations like AAI help to support a more equitable and inclusive community?

AAI partners with disability advocates to advocate for individuals with hearing and vision loss and mobility challenges. AAI stands with advocates for immigrants and people of color who make up a large part of the caregiving workforce and who face prejudices, low wages, and overcrowded housing. We also stand with advocates for low-income renters because many older women who rent and become single again face homelessness.

Why is Women’s History Month important to you?

Women’s History Month is hugely important. Women continue to be at a disadvantage throughout the world. Compared to other western countries, the American economy is not supportive of young moms, working moms, immigrant women, women of color, women taking care of parents, and women aging into solitude and poverty. It’s important to speak to these issues and to recognize the progress that has been made. Women can vote! Maternity and paternity leaves exist! Social Security and Medicare help!

You’ve held many leadership positions over your career. What is the key to achieving more female representation in leadership?

Just this week, I saw a momentous political change in Marin. When I was appointed to the San Rafael school board in 2006, the board was majority white and male. Last Monday, the school board filled a vacancy with the appointment of a young mom who had been an immigrant student in public education. We now have Marin’s first public agency with a majority Latina leadership. To women, whatever your age, stand up, speak up, and join in. Then we can have more days like the one when a place like San Rafael, which for decades has been home to thousands of hopeful immigrant moms, finally has a board with three Latina role models representing the people in their community.

I’m honored to be recognized and sign off with one of my favorite sayings: “Don’t give up before the miracle.”

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