Before Jackson Hignite graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May of 2019, he applied to Lead for America's inaugural fellowship cohort with an eye towards pursuing a career in public service in his hometown of Springdale, Arkansas. After being accepted as a Hometown Fellow, Jackson had to hustle to create his own position. In March of 2019, Jackson drove 700 miles from Notre Dame to Springdale to have an informational meeting with Mireya Reith, the Founding Executive Director of Arkansas United, the leading immigrant rights non-profit in the state. In that first meeting, Reith and Jackson were able to create a position. After attending Lead for America's month-long summer training in public administration, Jackson began serving as the Local Government and Communications Advisor for Arkansas United in August.
Jackson returned to Arkansas the day after the El Paso shooting, less than a week before the Mississippi ICE raids would be carried out. In the following weeks, amid the overpowering fear and the outpouring of support, the immigrant organizing movement would give Jackson plenty of opportunity to "learn by doing". From facilitating conversations about the meaning of allyship, to helping form a Northwest Arkansas youth organizers committee, Jackson's experiences of these first fast-paced months have only reaffirmed his commitment to immigrant rights and community organizing.
Jackson hopes to use these experiences in organizing efforts to make his hometown's local government more closely representative of the community because he believes that including everyone in the American experiment of representative government is one of the most important goals any local public servant can hold.