By Darren Thompson
On Tuesday, the Business Forum announced Kelly Jackson as the recipient of its 2022 ATHENA Award. As a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Jackson is the first Indigenous woman to receive recognition from the collaborative organization Madison-based.
“What an incredible honor to be recognized and to share this award with Christy Clark-Pujara,” Kelly Jackson told Indigenous News Online. “There is nothing that warms my heart more than being part of an award that supports the ‘lift as we climbing’ vibe. I have been truly blessed to be surrounded by some of the most prosperous and most generous and I would not have accomplished much of my efforts without them.
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Jackson was nominated by Oneida/Ho-Chunk attorney Samantha Skenandore and was nominated along with five other women for the prestigious recognition. The announcement was made during a virtual celebration planned by the organization for International Women’s Day. The organization said on its website that this year’s celebration aims to “recognize and honor 6 nominees who have achieved excellence in their work, dedicated time in their communities and helped women realize their full leadership potential. “.
The Business Forum is a diverse and dynamic mix of professional women who support and empower Madison-area women through programs, events, and philanthropic work.
“For 25 years, the Business Forum has honored individuals who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative to improve the lives of others in our community through our annual ATHENA® Award celebration,” said Member Jenny Krueger. of the committee and the board of directors of the Business Forum ATHENA, Indigenous News Online. “We were delighted to honor Ms. Jackson with the 2022 ATHENA Award for her efforts with InnoNative Solutions in education and advocacy for equity and inclusion, social justice, cultural identity and cultural preservation.”
Jackson founded his own consulting firm, Innovative Solutions, in 2019 to provide business development, culture, diversity and inclusion, and equity training to businesses, governments, and other organizations. Her commitment to the growth and development of girls and women has always been important in her professional and personal life. Her company actively creates and develops the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Initiative (MMIW) and youth programs that focus on media solutions, social justice, cultural identity and cultural preservation (entitled History Through Our Eyes ).
In 2016, she founded Spirit of a Woman, a non-profit organization, with Danielle Yancey, a member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, to empower and inspire young girls and women to succeed. Together they launched Indigenous Girls Rock, an annual musical retreat for Indigenous girls where they learn to play an instrument, form a band, write an original song and perform a live concert.
Jackson is also an award-winning musician; her debut album “Spirit of a Woman” won Best American Album of the Year at the Native American Music Awards in 2012. As a musician, she tours nationwide and performs in Paris this summer.
“I am inspired by the contributions our Indigenous women make to our families, our careers and our communities,” Jackson said. “Chi-miigwitch for this amazing recognition.”
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