Charitable Foundation Executive Director Presents Bartels Lecture April 12

Charitable Foundation Executive Director Presents Bartels Lecture April 12

The way Emily Tow Jackson sees it, college students have a choice.

“You could stay on campus and simply go to your classes, study and socialize, or you could break out of the four walls of your university to learn who lives in the area and what’s going on politically and socially,” she says. “That may open your eyes to how you can make a contribution while you are in college – and it could shape your academic choices and future path.”

Interacting with the people who make giving back their life’s calling is the most rewarding part of her work as executive director and board president of The Tow Foundation, a charitable organization that supports work in the areas of justice reform, medical research, higher education and cultural institutions.

“We work with intelligent, driven, inspiring people who have selflessly dedicated themselves to doing good in the world,”says Tow Jackson, who joined the Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 1988 and has been executive director for more than 20 years. “I feel truly privileged to be supporting their work.”

Tow Jackson will discuss her career as part of the Spring 2016 Bartles Lecture Series. She will visit campus on Tuesday, April 12, and will deliver a campus-wide address titled “The Power of Philanthropy to Impact System Change.” The talk will begin at 11 a.m. in Bucknall Theater in Dodds Hall.

The Tow Foundation, she says, prides itself on its entrepreneurial spirit. “One of the things that differentiates us is our willingness to invest in people and plans that are untested,” says Tow Jackson, who in 2012 was named a standout among “The Giving Generation" by Barron’s magazine.

This has been especially critical in the Foundation’s efforts to advance juvenile justice reform. “When you approach entrenched systems that aren’t working,” she says. “you have to go out on a limb, take a risk, try something new and be bold.”

Two years ago, The Tow Foundation partnered with UNH to create the University’s Tow Youth Justice Institute, the first of its kind in Connecticut dedicated to juvenile justice reform.

“UNH is a real hub of knowledge and is an intellectual and action-oriented community,” Tow Jackson says. “It’s exactly the kind of strategic partner we need in our work. The investment in the future leadership in this field is very important to us.”

She encourages students to have the courage to experiment and try new things, understanding that it is okay to deviate from an original career path. “This is your moment to get involved, to find out what your talents are, what you are good at, and maybe what you aren’t so good at. College is a great time to discover what motivates and excites you.

“Even with the requirements in your chosen course of study, there is still room to take a class in something you never thought you would be exposed to,” she continues. “Or you can go out and volunteer somewhere. Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone and consider the challenges other people are facing and how you might make a difference.”

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