Regina Jackson Wants to Empower Kids
Regina Jackson wants to see them treated with respect.
Civic Drawing Board asks Oakland citizens and civic leaders to identify a concrete change that would improve their town.
Photo by 123RF.com
Regina Jackson, the president and CEO of the East Oakland Youth Development Center, has nurtured, inspired, mentored, and empowered many young people over her two-plus decades at the nonprofit where she’s in charge of everything from strategic direction to fiscal management and business development. She’s a good listener—to the kids, to the community, to the EOYDC boards and trustees—and thinks Oaklanders should be, too, where youth is concerned.
“I often feel that young people aren’t given credit for being experts on their own experience. Over and over, adults decide what’s best for kids and don’t necessarily touch base to check if the decision resonates. But what I’ve found in my 20 years of leading EOYDC is that young people are more aware and informed than we think. They can tell if someone really cares, or if they’re just talking at them, rather than to them.
“My dream for Oakland is that it becomes a city where our youth are heard—which would not only empower them, but help the rest of us. And to do this, kids need to be involved in the city’s civic life and to learn that they have the capacity to lead. No one is always prepared when a leadership opportunity arises. But I’d like to see Oakland youth get and stay ready to be leaders so that when that moment comes, even if they’re nervous they can say to themselves, ‘I can do this.’ ”