Wanda H. Jackson
Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Talent Officer
National Urban League
New York, N.Y.
Wanda H. Jackson had no inkling that her four-year career in retail would segue to one in human resources, but the foundation laid by her tenure in that sector proved priceless. “I started my retailing career as a management trainee at Macy’s,” says Jackson, explaining that the eight-week program allowed her to gain important insight into how a business is run, even if the business is a nonprofit.
As senior vice president for human resources and chief talent officer at the National Urban League, Jackson manages the day-to-day HR activities of the 106-year-old civil rights organization. She also directs the National Urban League Career Fair, which she turned into an event with $100,000 of net income. “I am affirmed by paying it forward knowing that I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life, but [those you help] also become part of your network,” she says.
Jackson uses her middle initial to distinguish herself from Wanda Lavonne Jackson, the white country singer popular in the 1950s and ’60s. She credits the National Urban League with giving her opportunities outside of human resources. “My experiences have provided me exposure to different cultures, organizations, people and systems that I may not have had in other places. I have been allowed to be innovative and creative in a manner that has made an impact,” she muses. A little more than eight years ago, for example, she had a rare photo opportunity with then-Sen. Barack Obama. At the time, someone quipped that he one day may be president.
A Delta Sigma Theta soror, Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s in Human Resources Management from The New School in New York City. She enjoys participating in clubs like The Links and Jack and Jill of America, as well as cooking and relaxing with friends on Martha’s Vineyard.