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Jackson was the former dean of Claremont Graduate University's Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management.
Before coming to Claremont, Jackson was the president and CEO of the Arizona State University Foundation. He also was appointed in August 2002 as the first president of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. He was also a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Centerfor Public Leadership (2004–2006).
From 2000 to 2002, he was the director of the Center for Business and Government at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. From 1987 to 1999, Jackson was executive vice president of BankBoston. He previously worked in government, where from 1983 to 1987 he served as Massachusetts Commissioner of Revenue under Governor Michael Dukakis, and was previously chief of staff for Boston mayor Kevin White.
With Jane Nelson, he is the co-author of Profits with Principles: Seven Strategies for Delivering Value with Values (Doubleday, 2003), a book about social responsibility in corporate investment.