Joan B. Jackson Michigan Excellence In Service Series Memorial Scholarship

This year we honor Joan B. Jackson, our program co-founder, with a scholarship for women accepted into the 2016-17 MEPSS program. The focus will be on a commitment to service and lead in the community.

Joan left a great legacy for us to follow. It is with great pride, that we honor JoanJackson, formerly of Northport Michigan, by providing the first Joan B. Jackson MEPSS Scholarship for the 2016 program.

Joan is being honored and remembered for her many years of service to women and men, Republican officials and candidates, campaigns and issues on all levels of government.  She was a staunch advocate for good government, strong leadership,and campaign strategy training and success with winning elections on the local level. She lived on Cathead Bay in Northport since 1995, and resided and served as the 4th District Chair.  

She was admired for her keen ability to understand issues and candidates. Her political efforts began with the Goldwater campaign in 1964. This lady knew how to WIN elections.  During campaign seasons, you heard Joan and her late husband, Lowell, say that "Politics is the only game in town for adults" and "all you need is one more vote that your opponent to win!" Joan taught many of us it is very important that "first you win the argument, then you win the vote" as coined by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in President Ronald Reagan's era.  

One of Joan's strengths was her leadership at the 'grassroots' level.  During the 2010 general election, and as results came out, she was delighted to say that finally, after 10 years of work, her home base, Leelanau County had turned out the largest percentage of voters at 61.60%! Once again, she had shown "All politics is personal."  

Joan took pride in starting as a “block worker” and then rising to the elected position of Precinct Committeeman in 1962.  Developing her political leadership, in 1971 she was elected First Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin in a contested race.  She joined the National Federation of Republican Women’s Board and Executive Committee while serving as President of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women.  

Professionally, Joan worked in the executive and legislative branches of government, both at the state and federal level – as Administrative Secretary for State Assemblyman Tommy Thompson (Assistant Minority Leader – later Governor); Special Assistant to Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Reagan appointment as Regional Representative for the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in Region V including the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio; and concluding her career as a Legislative Assistant to a Member of Congress before retiring to Leelanau County in 1995.

In retirement, she enjoyed her English Cocker Spaniels and photography. She was wooed back into politics coming to the aid of her neighbor’s property rights battle.  Joan was a founder and past president of the Republican Women of Leelanau County; completed her 4th District chairmanship of the Michigan Republican Party in 2010; was a co-founder and past president of the Michigan Excellence in Public Service Series, a program that educates and trains Republican women to run for public office.  She also served as chair of the Leelanau County Board of Canvassers and was a member of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions steering committee.

It wasn’t all politics with Joan. She was one of the founding officers and past president of the Northport Community Arts Center – a civic organization that helped to build a 450-seat auditorium and raised privately 1.2 million dollars to fund its construction.  It’s mission, “bringing home the arts." Kathyrn DenHouter, a graduate of the 2011 Michigan Excellence in Public Service Series, once had Joan Jackson say to her at one of the presentations, "Each person needs to decide and then, stand by their decision. That's what makes democracy work."

We invite you to support the Joan B. Jackson Michigan Excellence in Public Service Series Memorial Scholarship by making a financial donation. Checks can me made out to MEPSS, with scholarship in the memo line, and mailed to MEPSS, P.O. Box 13042, Lansing, MI 48901.