Beyond Politics

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New trustee Susan Jackson ’80 brought a corporate background to the Bermudian Parliament.

 

It was 131 years ago that the great-grandfather of Susan Jackson ’80 was elected to the Bermuda Parliament, only the second black Bermudian to be elected to the body. Her father and mother both held seats in the legislature. And in 2012, Jackson followed in their footsteps, riding a wave of support for the newly formed One Bermuda Alliance party. She’s been an advocate for people with disabilities, and she wrestles with difficult issues, such as immigration. She also works for HSBC Bank Bermuda Limited as head of marketing for commercial banking. We wanted to learn more.

Second Act

Jackson entered the workforce after her children, now 24 and 27, left home. It gave her “quite a capacity to commit to public service as well as the corporate world.”

Passionate Debater

As the whip of her party, Jackson has to think strategically and debate passionately and persuasively, but the game of politics leaves her flat. “I try to stay out of the political piece of it because it can get vicious.” She’s learned, though, that while debates can get heated, her colleagues remain friendly.

Bermuda’s Future

In Bermuda, as in the U.S., immigration is a hot-button issue. Competition for limited land—Bermuda is only 21 miles long and three miles wide—can be fierce. ”It’s been a really hard sell to convince this aging population that we need to attract younger people from abroad to keep the economy healthy by having people who are working and establishing new businesses.”

More to Give

Jackson plans to stay in Parliament for the foreseeable future. Elected to her second five-year term in 2017, she says she is still a political neophyte. “I know that I have a huge contribution to make in the political environment.”

She Persisted

That commitment to see something through was one of the skills she learned at Williston. A geometry student in the class of Dan Carpenter, she was struggling with the material and shared her concern. She will never forget his response: “Susan, just come to class every single day, sit in the front row in the center and you’ll pass this. You’re going to make it.” And sure enough, it worked. She has fond memories of walking into Carpenter’s class and seeing him covered in chalk, “happy to see everybody and raring to go.”

A Wide Perspective

As an international student, coming to a New England boarding school exposed Jackson to a broad range of perspectives, another influential experience. “I learned to have a respectful appreciation for other people’s opinions.” As a lawmaker with a close relationship to her 1,200 constituents, she has found that this openness is essential.

The Williston Promise

As a new trustee, Jackson is excited about the direction the school is taking. “I want to make sure we stay on a really healthy and prosperous path.”

For more stories about Williston Northampton School alumni, click here.