Cory Jackson, '12, earned a bachelor’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Grand Valley and has since used his education, research, and career to fight for social justice through wellness initiatives.
Jackson started his career with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids before serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston, South Carolina. He has remained with the YMCA for six years, representing their core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. His contributions have been recognized through the Three Circle Award, among other honors. The Three Circle Award is a national award given annually to the leader who best exemplifies the culture of the YMCA and whose work serves as a benchmark for others within the organization.
In 2015, Jackson was named the nutrition and wellness director for the YMCA of Western North Carolina in Asheville. In this current role, Jackson manages a nutrition team and oversees a budget that is funded by federal funds and grants from private foundations. He earned a $160,000 grant from the Biltmore Estate to expand the YMCA's mobile nutrition fleet. The program now includes a food pantry and three mobile units.
Jackson’s passion and innovation made him a key leader in the development of the YMCA’s nutrition department. He increased access and reduced barriers to healthy food by integrating a cross-supportive approach to nutrition education, introducing behavioral science methods to nudge healthy selections in food pantries, and partnering with government and local resources. In addition, Jackson launched the YMCA’s Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen, the country’s first all-in-one mobile nutrition education vehicle.
In 2016, Jackson was the recipient of the Young Alumni Award, presented by the Grand Valley Alumni Association in recognition of his tireless efforts to provide equal access to healthy food for all.