The POISE Foundation recently announced the appointment of Karris M. Jackson to the position of vice president of programs effective Oct. 1.

In this position, Jackson will have responsibility for the foundation’s grantmaking strategy and program development. “Ms. Jackson will be a valuable addition to the foundation,” said Mark Lewis, president and CEO. “Ms. Jackson is well-respected among both the foundation and nonprofit communities.


Her prior experience in leading organizations that directly impact the lives of our youth will bring the type of insight the foundation needs to execute its strategy of strengthening the family unit, which is the core of a strong community. The addition of Ms. Jackson brings further stability to the foundation’s staff and sustainability going forward.”

Prior to joining the POISE Foundation, Jackson was executive director of Urban Youth Action, Inc. Before working at Urban Youth Action, Jackson was CAO of a charter school located in Harrisburg, Pa.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, she is a graduate of Wilkinsburg Senior High School. She received her bachelor’s of arts in English and secondary education from Allegheny College in Meadville. She went on to earn a master’s of science degree in secondary school administration from Duquesne University. She also attended Harvard University where she completed an executive educational class in nonprofit management.

Jackson serves as a board member for A+ Schools, Allegheny County Youth Creations, Inc. and is a school board member at the Cornell School District where she is chair of the Education Committee. She is a member of the Youth Policy Council, the UPMC Educational Advisory Council and a recent graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XXV. In 2004, The New Pittsburgh Courier named her one of Pittsburgh’s Most Influential Black Women and The Pittsburgh Magazine and PUMP named her one of Pittsburgh’s Top 40 under 40. In 2009, Jackson was selected as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Women of Excellence by the New Pittsburgh Courier.

The POISE Foundation began in December of 1980 as the first public foundation in the state of Pennsylvania organized and managed by African-Americans. The purpose of the foundation is to develop and enhance the participation of African-American philanthropists in the economic and social development of the Black community of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. For 29 years, the foundation has been supporting programs that add value to the quality of life of Black Pittsburgh and the region as a whole. The foundation has also initiated or collaborated with several other programs to develop hope, vision, and a sense of pride in the community.

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