A 1994 ASU graduate, Jackson has worked for the Dallas-based Buckner Children and Family Services (CFS) international nonprofit organization for over three decades. Starting as a childcare specialist working with troubled teens, he has steadily risen through the ranks, culminating with his promotion to president in January. As such, he is now responsible for all Buckner CFS programs, including foster care, adoptions, family and youth development, and counseling services, throughout Texas and six other countries.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids and families that we work with, being able to touch their lives and see the actual work being done with those families.”
“I’m also responsible for developing the annual strategic plan,” Jackson said, “setting the direction in terms of service delivery and how we position the organization for future growth and development in alignment with the mission, vision and values of Buckner.”
But where Jackson really thrives is in the field, visiting the Buckner CFS sites in Texas, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Kenya.
“One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids and families that we work with, being able to touch their lives and see the actual work being done with those families,” he said. “I also love the people I work with. I love working with like-minded people who are very collaborative and have a mindset of how they live their work because of their faith.”
In addition to his work at Buckner CFS, Jackson is an ordained minister at Emmanuel NewLife Fellowship in Dallas, and he also volunteers on the board of Connection Homes, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring families for troubled teens.
Having lived through a troubled childhood himself, Jackson began to find his calling to help others at Angelo State. It was while being recruited by multiple colleges to play football that he got his first glimpse of why ASU is known as the Ram Family.
“It came down to where I thought I would fit in, who would have my best interests at heart, and who my mother thought was a good fit for me,” Jackson said. “My mother was a very spiritual woman. When Rams Coach Mike Martin and Coach Jim Hess came to my house, they told my mother, ‘We will take care of your son.’ That kind of sealed the deal.”
From that beginning, Jackson fashioned an All-American career as a linebacker for the Rams, nearly made it to the NFL, and went on to be the first in his family to graduate from college. That inspired him to earn a master’s degree from Amberton University in his hometown of Garland and to pursue higher leadership opportunities at Buckner CFS.
“It all started with my education at Angelo State,” Jackson said. “So many staff and faculty poured into me educationally and from a life-coaching perspective. The educational value and life lessons shared with me by many coaches have served me well in my career. Angelo State is a place where people go to grow, develop and learn.”
And Jackson wasn’t the only one inspired by his college degree.
“Now, my daughter has a degree, both my sons have a degree and my nephew has a degree,” he said. “So, the opportunity that ASU gave me also changed my entire family, not only my immediate family, but also my extended family. Getting my ASU degree opened the door for them to see the value of education and broke that barrier for my family.”
Now living in Rockwall, Jackson and his wife of 30-plus years, Lee, are empty nesters who enjoy attending their grandson, Aston’s, soccer games. He is also an active member of the ASU Alumni Association and annually comes to campus for the Homecoming football game. He has never forgotten the impact Angelo State has had on his life, and he’s also proud to work with another ASU alum, Dr. Albert Reyes, president and CEO of Buckner International.
“Buckner has Baptist roots, so there are a lot of Baylor folks here,” Jackson said. “So whenever Dr. Reyes and I get a chance, we’re like, ‘Go Rams’ and put the Ram Hand symbol up. We also display our ASU flags proudly, and we promote ASU and the Rams at every opportunity.”
“Hindsight is 20-20, and if I had to do it all over again, I would still choose ASU.”
“Hindsight is 20-20, and if I had to do it all over again, I would still choose ASU,” he added. “I wouldn’t want to miss out on the experiences I had, the challenges I had, the opportunities I had, the friendships I had or the education I had. I would do it all over again. It was the right place at the right time for me.”
And because of that, Jackson is now at the right place at the right time for children and families all over the world.