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.”
Like many, we’re grappling to understand and respond to the chaos and disorganization around us—the senseless killing of George Floyd and so many others, police/protester violence, and unequal impacts of COVID-19. Here in Trenton, murders and gun-violence have spiked over the past few weeks, and yesterday, a twelve-year-old girl was shot next door to our Wood Street offices.
Threats are both immediate and systemic. From our educational system to business disinvestment to few supermarkets to pervasive lead poisoning in homes, brown and black families bear the proverbial, and real, boots on the throat. By the way, life expectancy in Trenton is 12 years less than 8 miles up the road in Princeton Junction.
Yet people remain resilient and capable. Isles’ work is rooted in an anti-racist belief that, if given the right tools and resources (like those the middle class takes for granted), families and communities can determine their own futures. We focus on a longer-term prize—family self-reliance and healthy communities, so we help residents care for themselves by growing food, educating young people, buying a home, training for future-focused green jobs and getting toxins out of communities.
Despite these efforts, much more is needed. In addition to the above, we are rolling up our sleeves and sewing masks, creating at-home grow kits, delivering food and supplies to families in need, and learning new online skills, like teaching high school students, job training and financial services.
We started to work specifically on youth anti-violence 5 years ago, and we developed a Leadership Academy to foster youth non-violence. Today, we build safe parks, gardens, homes and public interest centers. Recreation services for kids connect them to fun and each other. On a larger policy stage, Isles collaborates with the NJ Attorney General’s office, local police, and other nonprofits to expand youth recreational programs and support services, improve community policing efforts, and support safer streets.
Obviously, this is not enough. We continue to explore and push new ways to counter violence and build accountable policing. We’re supporting the creation of a ‘Use of Force’ database and advocating for standardizing use of force policies and reinvigorating citizen police boards. We’re implementing an anti-violence plan we helped develop with the Capital City Youth Violence Coalition.
We hear lots of voices rising up against the pain—a good and necessary start. But we urge real action, remaining hopeful that thoughtful steps can continue to move us towards a longer-term goal of fair, just, and sustainable communities—where all can thrive.
Isles Leadership Team
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.