Jessica Jackson JD '11Santa Clara University School of Law alumna and Alexander Law Prize winner Jessica Jackson JD ’11 was chosen as one of 121 stellar leaders from around the world under the age of 40, to be among the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Class of Young Global Leaders.

The World Economic Forum, a not-for-profit foundation founded in 1971 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, “engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does,” according to the Forum website.

Being a Young Global Leader connects these outstanding young adults to the Young Global Leaders Forum, which works to spur public-private cooperation among disparate fields of expertise, “to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest,” according to the Forum website.

Jackson, who received the 2019 Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara Law, is a human rights attorney who began her career representing California death row inmates in post-conviction appeals. Striving to end mass incarceration and mass supervision, Jackson serves as the Chief Advocacy Officer for REFORM Alliance, and she is co-founder, with Van Jones, of #cut50, a bi-partisan national initiative to reduce the prison population by 50 percent, and she has served as national director of that organization. Jackson earned her B.A. in political science from the University of South Florida Honors College and her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law, where she received the Dean’s Outstanding Student Leadership Award.

“Jessica has always demonstrated the qualities that make her a global leader: intelligence, empathy, vision, and a belief in a better tomorrow for all,” said Ellen Kreitzberg, professor, Santa Clara Law. “She is also a woman of determination, action and accomplishment—translating her ideals into a reality,”added Kreitzberg.

“Jessica’s passion and commitment to human rights and the dignity of all have spurred so many people—including Van Jones, Kim Kardashian, Jared Kushner and many others including myself—to action,” said Colleen Chien, professor at Santa Clara Law. “She elevates the Global Leaders group.”

“I am honored to be named a 2021 Young Global Leader, and cannot wait to get to know this incredible class of changemakers from around the world,” said Jackson. “I’m excited to work with my peers to tackle issues of injustice and incarceration and learn from their experiences. My time as a law student at Santa Clara prepared me to go into the world and make a difference, and I’m proud to represent SCU as a Young Global Leader,” she added.

Jackson’s Advocacy Work

On December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law The First Step Act, a major prison reform bill that The New York Times said will deliver “the most significant changes to the criminal justice system in a generation.” Jackson, who was serving as national director of #Cut50 at the time, co-led with Van Jones the successful effort to put together a bi-partisan coalition to get the bill passed. The law has set free more than 16,000 people.

Jackson has spearheaded other prison reform efforts, including the “Dignity for Incarcerated Women” campaign, an initiative led by formerly incarcerated women—as well as celebrities that Jackson enlisted—that sought to improve the treatment of women in prison, including allowing them access to their children while incarcerated. At REFORM Alliance, Jackson directs the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts, focused on changing hearts, minds, and the laws surrounding supervision. To date, REFORM has logged substantive victories in California and Michigan, and is working on legislation in seven additional states. Jackson also oversaw REFORM’s response to COVID in prisons, including the organization’s SAFER Recommendation plan that was adopted by 48 states.

Jackson has served on the Committee for a Fair Judiciary, and as an advisory board member of the American Constitution Society Bay Area Chapter.

In November 2013, she became the youngest ever elected official in Marin County when she joined the Mill Valley City Council, becoming the mayor of Mill Valley in November 2016, where she focused on affordable housing in one of California’s most expensive cities.

About Santa Clara University School of Law

Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property. For more information, see

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