Leadership Learnings with Jackie Jenkins-Scott

731 1024 Michaela Sawicki

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A Conversation with Jackie Jenkins-Scott, Founder & President, JJS Advising


MWF President, Jackie Jenkins-Scott is a nationally renowned leader with decades of experience in executive roles in the world of public health and higher education. Growing up in a religious African American household Jackie learned early the importance of giving back and the importance of education. These are themes that have remained integral to Jackie’s character in all of her endeavors. Jackie’s career in public health began after her graduation with a masters degree from Boston University when she worked at the Boston Department of Public Health. She would then become CEO of Dimock Community Health Center before transitioning into education as the president of Wheelock College until 2016. Jackie’s most recent career transition has brought her to the Forum, where she is now the president and as dedicated as ever to her mission of empowerment. 


Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Jackie and ask her some questions. 


Q: You’ve had a remarkable career.  What do you point to as your proudest achievement amidst it all? 


JACKIE: “Having had a positive impact on the careers of people I have mentored and guided – I like to believe that this has long-term impact and effect. I am proud to have touched the lives of so many people, particularly women, in their early career. This is more important to me than any specific, tangible success.”


Q: To be a great leader you must have great examples, what is the most effective advice you received throughout your career?


JACKIE: One of the most effective pieces of advice I’ve received came from a lecture professor in grad school who came to Boston to be the first African American commissioner of corrections. He gave us advice to “keep our bags packed.” That really stuck with me, he was saying that if you’re in a position to compromise your beliefs and core values you should have your bags packed, you may have to move on. He ended up leaving Massachusetts for that reason; he wanted systemic changes and that wasn’t an option. I try to share this with the people I am coaching or working with, both professionally and personally: Our beliefs and our values are really important to implementing organizational mission. When we sacrifice our mission and our beliefs and our values, we risk our ability as an organization and as a leader to be most effective.” 


Q: If you could go back, and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give her?


JACKIE: “I would say build in more time for myself. Because you give so much and over time you need to find time to breathe. More time for your own reflection, refreshment, and replenishment.”


Q: I know that giving back to the women who follow is a big part of your life’s work. How do you plan to continue supporting women through the Forum?


JACKIE: “Aretha Franklin recently passed, and she was famous for one word: respect. We have to hold ourselves to the highest standards of respect for ourselves and when we do so we can demand that from others. I am set on creating a climate of respect both for ourselves and those around us. I am incredibly proud of the foundation and legacy we inherited at the Forum and I look forward to what we will build on in our next phase of growth and development. I would describe my role as being a bridge between the hopes and dreams that came before our current membership, those of our future members. So the next generation of women can carry this organization forward. Their challenges will be different than ours and those of our founders, but I am hoping to keep this bridge intact. It is a big responsibility, but I want to see our community thrive.”


Throughout her career, Jenkins-Scott has worked to empower young professionals to be uncompromising in their ambition, be it through executive positions or volunteer efforts. At a time when women have more opportunities to find and secure their paths, Jackie is ready to cultivate an environment where Forum members are emboldened to do just that. 


Massachusetts Women’s Forum
Madison Shaw, Communications Associate
May 2019


Michaela Sawicki

All stories by: Michaela Sawicki