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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Right on Target

By Ryan Decker
Sept. 9, 2012

Kenya Jackson may not have seen it all, but a few minutes of conversation is all it takes to realize he’s seen far more than the amazing view he now enjoys from his 30th floor corner office.

“I try not to take it for granted,” he says of the view, “and to be honest it’s almost impossible not to look out there and just say, ‘Wow.’”

The view Jackson is referring to came with his position as vice presi­dent of marketing operations for Target.

Jackson joined Target in 2003, and he held numerous positions on his way to becoming a vice president in January 2010. While he’s cer­tainly come a long way since graduating from North Central University (Assemblies of God) in Minneapolis in 1992 with a degree in behavioral sciences, he’s also ended up nearby. The NCU campus is easily spotted in the view from his office, and Jackson and his wife, Kelly, currently live in the Twin Cites with their two sons, Kaleb and Asher.

The journey that has brought Jackson to that office, just a downtown mile away from North Central, took him literally around the world. After graduating, Jackson was invited to play basketball for Athletes in Action and over the course of the 1990s was a part of nine AIA tours. Those trips took him to Bolivia, Brazil, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Russia, Italy, Turkey and Australia.

Now a member of the AIA board of trustees, Jackson credits those opportuni­ties with helping to deepen his faith and develop the boldness to share it with others. This past summer he participated with an AIA team in Puerto Rico, and was excited to have his 8-year-old son join him on the trip.

Basketball has played a big part in Jackson’s life and his faith journey. He recalls committing his life to Christ at a Christian bas­ketball camp he attended while in high school, and he says that many of his best memories while attending North Central centered around his time on the basketball team as well.

Jackson transferred to North Central after a year at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he was recruited to play both basketball and football. With good reason, he is pas­sionate about the value of sports in personal and leadership devel­opment, as well as a platform to share the gospel.

“Any time a student can exercise their leadership muscles — whether athletic or non-athletic — it’s a big deal, especially in a team sport environment,” Jackson says. “You have opportunities to give and receive criticism, to work through problems.

“You learn how to approach people and have quality interaction in the right way, speak the truth in love, and be accountable — not just to those above you but to those on your peer level. And I can tell you from my professional experience that those people thrive, and not just in this organization. When I see that on a resume, it stands out.”

From the basketball court as a new Christian through his journey in the corporate world, Jackson continues to be driven to always give his best effort — something he says AIA reinforced emphatically — because competing well and winning directly corre­lated to a strong platform for sharing the message of Christ. That drive is a trait that has served him well and allowed him to make a positive impact at Target in a variety of roles.

In addition to his success in the various professional roles he has taken on (his cur­rent title is the fifth different position he has held at Target), Jackson is active in the Christian Business Network at the company, and has also been an active part of Target’s initiatives related to diversity.

Since May 2011, Jackson has been transitioning into another new role, as he became a group vice president of stores for Target Canada. This new role will soon take him and his family to Van­couver, British Columbia, where his office will be based, as he helps to implement the company’s expansion plans across the border to the north. Just what the view from his office will look like may not be clear, but Jackson is excited for the new opportunity and its challenges.

If his journey so far is any indication, there is much more to be accomplished. Still, he is quick to give God the credit for his success.

“I sit in this fancy office, but I have this not because of anything I’ve done or who I am. Anything I get is because of Him,” Jackson says. “If I can carry myself in the way God wants me to, that’s important to me.”

From NCU Magazine, Spring 2012. Excerpted with permission.

RYAN DECKER is assistant director of marketing and communications at North Central University in Minneapolis.

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