In August, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. named 31-year-old Jeremiah Jackson as the new program director of the Leadership Development Initiative, making him the only African-American staff member. In past professional positions and as a recent LDI graduate himself, Jackson has a record of promoting the importance of strong leadership.

PROGRAM DIRECTOR— Jeremiah Jackson helps mold young professionals into tomorrow’s leaders.

“I have long felt that leadership is the greatest challenge facing our country as we move into the 22nd century,” Jackson said. “The fertilization and development of strong leaders with the courage to tackle the many challenges we face is going to be a quintessential factor in our country and region truly realizing the ‘American Dream.’”

LPI is a nonprofit organization that builds leadership skills through civic engagement. Most programs include monthly group sessions and meetings with community leaders to address issues such as economic development, inclusion, education, human needs and human services, arts and culture, criminal justice and quality of life issues.

“I wanted to be involved with the (LPI) team because I believed in the mission of the organization and the team. I also felt that I could significantly contribute to the organization,” Jackson said. “My long-standing mission to improve my community and the mission of the (LPI) team, ‘to strengthen regional leadership through programs, partnerships, and connections,’ are simpatico.”

Jackson was first introduced to LPI through a friend who challenged him to enter the LDI program. LDI is a nine-month training program specifically designed for young professionals.

“I am always looking for new ways to challenge myself and to grow as a person. I had a tremendous experience and really strengthened my leadership skills and professional networks,” Jackson said. “I also had a tremendous engagement experience with the Uptown community. It was ironic because I worked and played in Uptown but never really engaged that community. It was a real treat to get involved in Uptown.”

Jackson’s group of 50 participants completed a Community Impact Project called POP UP PITTSBURGH!, which was a one-day event showcasing the highlights of the Uptown neighborhood. He said part of the reason why the program was so beneficial for him was because of the people he was able to meet.

“There is no more powerful of a feeling than to be working with highly competent people; with diverse professional backgrounds; that care about serving others,” Jackson said. “The LDI experience helped me to become a better stronger person with a whole new set of great friends and role models. It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

In his new position Jackson plans to keep many components of LDI’s structure including POP UP PITTSBURGH!. He plans to expand this project to the Hilltop neighborhood as well.

“The changes I plan for the first year will be more subtle, but I think they will enhance the participant’s experience,” Jackson said. “I am fired up and excited to meet the challenge of working with the next group of amazing leaders. It keeps me up at night and gets me up in the morning. I love my work and I hope in time it will love me.”

Prior to his work with LPI, Jackson, 31, worked as outreach coordinator and training development specialist for the Career Literacy for African American Youth Program at Duquesne University. This program helps local youths through career mentoring, academic tutoring and other programming.

“I came on initially as a mentor and was part of the core development team that created and grew the program,” Jackson said. “It was a great experience and we were able to help hundreds of regional students achieve tremendous outcomes. This was a great experience because it really allowed me to develop my leadership skills in context of my broader mission to serve the region.”

For the past two years, Jackson has also been involved in the Benefiting African American Males mentoring program at North Side Urban Pathways Charter School. Through his involvement as a senior trainer with the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA, he began training mentors in BAAM and has continued to work with the program since.

“I have also had an unusual career path with a mix of business, social work and educational experience. I feel that this diverse body of work has prepared me well for the multi-pronged challenges of today’s leader. The challenges that I face in my daily work life and that we face as leaders often need a collaboration of perspective, experience, and influence to be overcome,” Jackson said. “I feel that having worked in these arenas I am not only able to engage professionals from a number of areas, but also able to find the common ground upon which we can build to meet our goals as stakeholders in this community.”

Though he currently lives in the North Side, Jackson is originally from Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s of science from Miami University. He has lived in Pittsburgh for nearly 10 years and is an MBA candidate at Duquesne University

“I am not a native to Pittsburgh, but I am someone who came here and found a potential lifelong home. I think seeing Pittsburgh from the context of a young professional who was lured here because of the tremendous professional opportunities; and finding that it was the incredible sense of community and camaraderie that has kept me here helps me see Pittsburgh with “black and gold” colored glasses,” Jackson said. “I feel my optimism about Pittsburgh is a direct reflection of the promise that is here and the overwhelming spirit of the city.”

Jackson currently serves on several boards including the Social Work Advisory Board for Community College of Allegheny County and as a guest member on both The Pittsburgh Opera and The West Penn Hospital Foundation. He is also a certified SAT, ACT, MCAT, and GMAT trainer for the Princeton Review and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

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