Union Leaders – Dr. Jackie Young

Dr. Jackie Young

Union Institute & University’s historical commitment to ethical and creative leadership and the insights gained over the past 50 years as a leader in adult learning is the inspiration for the monthly series, Union Leaders.

This month Dr. Jacqueline (Jackie) Young UI&U Ph.D. graduate is featured. Dr. Young is a consultant, speaker, advocate, life-long learner and volunteer on projects and issues that inspire social change and healthy communities. Currently she serves as Chair of the Hawaii State Judicial Selection Commission; member of the Hawaii State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and a board member of ACLU Hawaii. On the national level she is a member of the U.S. Department of Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. There is no “one size fits all” leadership style. It depends on the organization, culture, time constraints, mission and the personalities involved. Being flexible is a key characteristic as plans change.

Basically, I view leaders as responsible for moving things forward towards a vision or a goal.

Q. Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.

A. When I became an elected official in 1990 the concept of Servant-Leadership (as coined by Robert Greenleaf) fit well into the role of being a community leader as the focus is on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. Listening is a key characteristic of an elected leader as is persuasion and vision leading to policy decisions that impact all.

Q. What leader do you admire most and why?

A. I admire the leadership style of Irene Natividad. She is the President of the Global Summit of Women and every year brings together women leaders from around the world. I worked with her when she was President of the National Women’s Political Caucus an organization devoted to recruiting, training and electing women in politics. I served as vice-president of the organization and saw her in action. She was well-respected and was able to move the organization forward in a volatile political environment and because of her dedication, integrity and reliability, plus that x-factor of having media charisma, brought great credibility to the organization and its mission.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. I have two favorite quotes that go hand-in-hand.

Dr. Tom Frieden, former Director of the Center for Disease Control, said that “Irrational optimism is crucial to success.” He was talking about global epidemics and cancer, but it seemed to explain my being involved in social justice causes. Of course, reality checks are also crucial to success. Then there’s President Harry Truman’s famous quote that I believe all leaders should aspire to: “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”

We all stand on the shoulders of others.

Q. When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?

A. When I was a teenager, I was elected president of several high school clubs. One of them, the Y-Teens, was affiliated with the YWCA statewide program. In my junior high school year I was elected President of the Y-Teen Inter Club Council. I felt very honored as the council consisted of representatives from many public and private high schools throughout the state. This required a different level of responsibility, collaboration and decision-making and exposure to new ideas and a more altruistic vision of eliminating racism.

About Dr. Jacqueline (Jackie) Young

Dr. Young is a consultant, speaker, advocate, life-long learner and volunteer on projects and issues that inspire social change and healthy communities.

Currently she serves as Chair of the Hawaii State Judicial Selection Commission; member of the Hawaii State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and a board member of ACLU Hawaii. On the national level she is a member of the U.S. Department of Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

In 1990 she was elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives. In 1992 she served as Vice-Speaker, the first woman to hold that position. She championed issues related to Native Hawaiians, the environment and crimes against women.

In 1998, while undergoing breast cancer treatment and speaking publicly about her experience, she led the Protect Our Constitution Campaign in Hawaii, which became the nation’s first campaign for marriage equality.

She retired in 2013 as Chief Staff Officer of the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific.

Jackie has received many awards: the President’s Award in 1994 from Union Institute & University; the National Education Association in 1999 for her work in advancing the rights of women and girls; Named an Extraordinary Woman of Hawaii from the Women’s History Project; Woman Leader Award from the YWCA; ACLU Leadership Award in 1999 for her work in social justice issues; the Light of the Orient Award for her work in the Korean Community after the Los Angeles Riots. In 2014 she received Punahou High School’s Alumni Award for Humanitarian Service, and in 2016 she was named a University of Hawaii Distinguished Alumni.

In addition to her 1989 Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from Union, she holds a B.S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Hawaii and a Master’s in Speech and Special Education from Old Dominion University.

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