President's Biography

In May 2011, Deborah C. Jackson became the fourth President of Cambridge College, a private, nonprofit institution that for 41 years has been a leader and pioneer in adult learning.   President Jackson is an accomplished leader with over 30 years of professional experience in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.   She has been recognized for her exemplary leadership skills and solution-driven expertise on local, national and global issues involving public policy research, workforce development, education, health care, urban policy and community services. 

President Jackson’s commitment to engaging our students, faculty and the broader college community to leverage the college’s enormous potential for continued growth and success in an increasingly challenging environment,  has been a significant underpinning of many of the initiatives of her first two years.  Since her arrival, her accomplishments have included:

  • Launching the Pathways to Persistence Initiative to develop and provide a comprehensive  array of services to enhance student success, retention and degree attainment. 
  • The creation of the college’s first Office of Partnerships to foster strategic relationships with community, corporate and government partners to support and advance the mission of the college in serving students, enhancing the academic experience and fostering greater engagement of the college community in civic and community service activities.
  • The successful planning, design and launch of the College’s first Career Resources Center to  support the efforts of students to compete effectively in their pursuit of professional opportunities.
  • Completion a new Strategic Plan, “Vision 2016: Access, Innovation, Success” that will further position the College to be the leader in educating and preparing adult learners for professional success and in promoting social justice;
  • Creating new linkages for the College and our community-at-large, to outstanding leadership models by creating the Cambridge College Leadership Speaker Series.  To date, the series has hosted the Honorable Deval Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the second African-American governor in history and the first to serve two elected terms, and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, appointed by President Obama and the first Hispanic and woman to serve in this capacity 
  • Executing a unique public/private partnership for the development of on-line learning program for the college in order to expand access for adult learners and
  • Launching the college’s new website as part of an overarching vision to strengthen the College’s identity and message, to support its ability to meaningfully engage our core audiences and to greatly improve the functionality of this critical tool in support of this engagement.   

Ms. Jackson joins Cambridge College after nearly a decade as the CEO of the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts, one of the nation's largest Red Cross units.  Prior to this role, she served as Vice President of the Boston Foundation where she managed its $50 million grant and initiatives program.  Much of Ms. Jackson’s career has been in the healthcare sector where she served as   Senior Vice President at Boston Children’s Hospital. She spent nearly a decade early in her career at Abt Associates, Inc., one of the country’s largest for-profit research and consulting firms, where she served as the Director of the Health Care and Income Security group.

Throughout her career, Ms. Jackson has been actively engaged in a wide range of civic activities.  Her leadership has been sought for appointments to numerous commissions and boards.  She currently serves on Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission, the Advisory Board for IDEAS Boston, Eastern Bank and Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, the National Diversity Advisory Council for the National American Red Cross and “City to City”, a program that focuses on examining national and global best practices for urban policies. Ms. Jackson served for over 15 years on the board of the American Student Assistance Corporation, the nation’s first student loan guarantor agency; and has previously served on the boards of Roxbury Community College, Boston College Carroll School of Management Advisory Board, Northeastern University Corporation, Milton Academy, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the Group Insurance Commission. She is a member of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum, a chapter of the International Women’s Forum, an organization established to recognize and cultivate the contributions of women leaders around the world. 

President Jackson has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award for Achievement in Management, Boston Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Women in Boston,” the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Carl F. Barron Business Person of the Year Award, El Planeta Newspaper’s “One of the 100 Most Influential People in the Hispanic Community,” in addition to being inducted into the Women’s Business Hall of Fame.  She was a 2009 Barr Foundation Fellow; a Senior Fellow at Boston University's Graduate School of Business/Institute for Non-profit Management and Leadership; and was a Fellow of the British-American Project of Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies.   

President Jackson attended Hampton University and completed her undergraduate studies at Northeastern University.  She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Urban Studies and Planning for graduate studies and Harvard University’s Advanced leadership Program.