Join us on Saturday, November 14 at 6 pm for Isles’ virtual year-end event, the Harvest Celebration. Broadcast from the Social Profit Center at Mill One via Zoom, the Harvest Celebration will feature highlights of our work throughout the year, and a panel discussion in which new CEO Sean Jackson and Founder Marty Johnson answer your questions about our past, present, and future. For more information and to register online visit isles.org/harvestcelebration
Isles’ new CEO Sean Jackson was a guest on RVN TV’s Rainmakers Roundup, where he spoke about his transition from politics to nonprofit work, why he got involved with Isles, and the latest on the Social Profit Center at Mill One.
Trenton, NJ – Isles, a nonprofit community development and environmental organization headquartered in Trenton, NJ, is pleased to announce that Sean Jackson has been selected to serve as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective October 1st. Sean will succeed President Marty Johnson, who founded Isles as part of a student-led initiative at Princeton University in 1981.
A long-term trustee of Isles, Sean brings extensive experience in public policy, law, and real estate development. He previously served as State Director for U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli before transitioning to the private sector as Sr. Vice President of Rosemont Associates, a government relations consulting and real estate development firm. There, in addition to serving as a consultant for dozens of New Jersey firms, Sean developed and managed more than 70k sq ft of commercial development, most of which is located in Trenton. Sean joined Isles’ Board of Trustees in 2013, later becoming its Real Estate Committee Chair. He also served as Chair of the Pipeline Committee, where he helped develop and evaluate Isles’ services.
In early 2019, Sean stepped off Isles’ Board of Trustees to manage the Social Profit Center at Mill One, a 75k sq ft conversion of a formerly vacant historic mill into office, studio, and flex space. The Social Profit Center will house charities (including Isles’ headquarters), other social profit organizations and artists under one roof, bringing shared services and a regional hub to improve the capacity of organizations across the region.
“Marty has built an innovative, barrier-breaking organization aimed at family self-reliance and community health, and I am honored to carry that legacy into this new, exciting chapter as Isles’ next Chief Executive Officer,” says Sean Jackson. “Our community, and indeed our country, face awesome challenges that require innovative, disciplined solutions. Isles management team is talented, experienced, and resourceful. I’m excited to work with them to meet these challenges in the months and years ahead.”
“Sean is the right person to lead Isles in this moment,” says Founder Marty Johnson. “We have learned a lot over the years, and Sean has been alongside us. He is well versed in shaping public policy, launching the Social Profit Center, expanding our lead poisoning prevention work, and grounding our green energy work to jobs and development. These are exciting times for Isles, full of potential. I’m proud to have spent my adult life helping build it.”
Marty, who had been working as a part-time CEO/President while teaching Social Entrepreneurship at Princeton University and Lafayette College, will stay on in a part-time capacity to work closely with Sean and Chief Operating Officer John Hart to support the transition.
“As COO, John is key to this transition, managing Isles’ operations for over 6 years, building partnerships and bringing a social and racial justice lens to our work,” says Marty. “He and Sean are a powerful team, committed to Isles’ systemic change agenda.”
“I look forward to working closely with Sean to advance our unusual work,” says John Hart, who had previously served in senior roles in NJ government and regional nonprofits. “Sean has been a force as a trustee and colleague at Isles. He is a coalition builder, vital to our policy and legislative work. He’s developed strong ties in Trenton and statewide and understands the on-the-ground challenges and opportunities in the Trenton region.”
The Isles Board of Trustees created a subcommittee to lead the year long search process, which involved reviewing numerous candidates and comprehensive interviews with a select few.
“After 40 years, we are replacing a founder – not an easy task!” says Willard Stanback, Search Committee Member and Vice Chair of Isles’ Board of Trustees. “Concluding our broad effort, we are proud to select, as our next leader, someone who knows Isles very well – Sean Jackson. It is truly promising to have Sean – who was a former board member with me and more recently has been a consultant supporting Isles – bring to this new role his array of skills and depth of knowledge about the organization, obtained through experiences in his prior roles. We look forward to helping him lead Isles into its next era.”
Join us on Tuesday, June 16th for a one-day, virtual fundraising event to support fostering self-reliant families and healthy, sustainable communities!
Watch videos from Isles staff, volunteers, and customers on our Facebook page that share inside looks into our work and its impact in the region – now and for the future. We’re also raffling off one-of-a-kind giveaway packages.
Click here for full event details.
Click here to see our Pandemic Response web page.
Friday, April 10th was Isles’ 39th Anniversary! Watch the message Isles’ Founder and CEO Marty Johnson sent to the Isles team in recognition of this important milestone.
On this very day 39 years ago, a fellow student and I borrowed a car from a Princeton classmate and drove to Trenton to officially incorporate Isles, a new kind of nonprofit development organization. Motivated by my family experience with poverty in Akron, Ohio and my Anthropology thesis, I grappled with a presumptuous notion – that Princeton students could do almost anything.
We thought we could create, in challenged places like Trenton, better ways to assist families and communities to become more self-reliant and healthy. We took a leap of faith in two ways: we could learn what to do, and the universe would support us.
Over four decades, that faith felt mostly well-placed. Despite larger trends towards inequality and environmental un-sustainability, our efforts were rewarded with steady growth, purpose-driven personal satisfaction and real, visible progress.
Then along came Covid. It threatens all of us, but not equally. It particularly hurts those without savings, room to stretch out, access to health care and steady jobs. Of course, that means largely brown and black-skinned people.
At Isles, we feel assaulted on multiple fronts. As a species, we are social animals, wanting to be together, and Isles’ community development work builds upon that nature. Yet the virus forces us to separate. Families we serve face immediate threats. So does our organization. Isles’ business model relies on donors, government partners, foundations, public contracts, volunteers and allies like local universities. They also face their own survival threats, and they are re-trenching. So yes, our investments and livelihoods are at risk.
Once again, I feel like that senior at Princeton, taking a leap into the unknown, hoping we can learn, and cautiously hoping that the world helps us succeed.
Luckily, we’re not starting from scratch again. We’ve learned a lot. We know how to keep staff and volunteers safe and healthy, feed hungry students in our alternative high school with a food pantry, move education and job training online, and offer phone and web-based financial counseling to families that face financial ruin. We’re safely helping hundreds of families on 70 “Covictory” gardens – so Trenton can grow more of its own food.
In these uncertain times, we return to that leap of faith. This Covid era that both threatens and teaches will not last. It too will pass. Let’s not just hope, but make sure, that we learn from it.
Marty Johnson, ‘81