JOB ENVY: The Marine Reservist Rebuilding The City Of Detroit

career
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Name: Sean Seabright Jackson


Location: Detroit, Michigan        

Employer: Executive Associate at Rock Ventures, LLC

Branch of Service: U.S. Marine Corps

Every year, men and women who bravely serve America in the armed forces continue to help our great country through acts of public service, non-profit, and volunteer work, rebuilding parts of the U.S. left vulnerable by the recession. At only 26, Sean Seabright Jackson is one of these service members. The California native and Marine Corps reservist works for Rock Ventures, a real estate investment company headed by founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, Inc., Dan Gilbert, and is leading initiatives to help revitalize the city of Detroit, Michigan.

Task & Purpose recently spoke with Jackson about his experience.

His time in the military.

Rock Ventures executive associate Sean Jackson refers to a map of Detroit Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.AP Photo/Corey Williams

Jackson joined the Marine Corps reserves when he was 19, then living in Laguna Beach, California. As a civil affairs advisor with 3rd Civil Affairs Group, he’s worked with local leaders around the world to address challenges that affect the lives of thousands. In 2012, Jackson supported economic and governance development initiatives while working with the civil-military provincial reconstruction team to increase societal capacity and stability in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He also deployed to Haiti in 2011 during a humanitarian intervention.

“Working on the ground with a combination of non-governmental organizations, U.S. agencies, and foreign governments has exposed me to a myriad of different problem-solving philosophies,” Jackson says.

While in the reserves, Jackson also completed a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His studies focused on relations between nation states and nation building. “The world of academia, with its models and clean causality, necessarily simplifies complex issues, however the insights drawn from this analysis have real, practical value,” he says.

Ultimately, Jackson’s military experience in civil affairs and his academic background put him on a path to becoming a problem solver.

Making the revitalization of Detroit his mission.

After his deployment to Helmand, Jackson wanted to use his experience to help support his country. “After working with the economic development teams in Afghanistan, I knew that I wanted to focus on helping rebuilding the economy of great American cities when I returned home,” he says.

In 2013, Jackson applied for a two-year fellowship with Venture for America, a non-profit organization that works to connect recent college graduates with start-up businesses in emerging cities, a decision he calls one of the most pivotal of his life. According to Jackson, the goal of the organization is to train the next generation of entrepreneurs and put them in places where they can grow both their companies and their cities, and ultimately revitalize America through entrepreneurship.

After a five-week training camp, Jackson was sent to Detroit where his boss, Dan Gilbert, volunteered him to lead the Motor City Mapping Project, which worked with local residents to survey and map 380,000 properties in the city to better understand the physical condition of each property and track the spread of blight. He also authored three chapters of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Report, outlining a strategy to determine which properties needed to be destroyed and which could be saved.

“Everyday we are removing the cancer that is blight from the city of Detroit, and helping the rest of the world see the potential this great American city has to offer,” Jackson says. With nearly 250 demolitions being completed each week and numerous other revitalization programs underway, the goal of the initiative is to eliminate all blighted properties from Detroit within five years.

These days, Jackson works with the Detroit Land Bank Authority to build operational systems to track the massive blight elimination efforts underway. He says the tools that helped him succeed in the business world are the same as those he used in the military: “You need to be able to figure out how to get stuff done. Entrepreneurial hustle is the same thing that all good commanders and noncommissioned officers have, the ability to take a vision and figure out how to get it done, period.”

His advice for transitioning service members.

Jackson points out that a major advantage veterans have is that they started solving serious problems at a much younger age than their non-military peers. “A 20-year-old Marine corporal has years of experience making sure that his Marines stay alive. Those without military service won’t have had that level of responsibility for another decade,” he says.

Therefore, owning the fact that the military “makes you to be scrappy, adaptable, and gives you confidence work on problems that don’t seem to have easy solutions” is a solid way to set yourself up for success.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official's biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica.

Read More Show Less
Saturday Night Live/screenshot

President Donald Trump said that "retribution" should be "looked into" after this week's opening skit of Saturday Night Live featured Alec Baldwin being mean to him again.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. John Eller conducts pre-flights check on his C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 3 prior to taking off from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a local area training mission. Sgt. Eller is a loadmaster from the 535th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

CUCUTA, Colombia — The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure Saturday on beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, dispatching U.S. military planes filled with humanitarian aid to this city on the Venezuelan border.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

Read More Show Less
A pair of U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat aircraft from Fighter Squadron VF-211 Fighting Checkmates in flight over Iraq in 2003/Department of Defense

Since the sequel to the 1986 action flick (and wildly successful Navy recruitment tool) Top Gun, was announced, there's been a lot of speculation on what Top Gun: Maverick will be about when it premieres in June 2020. While the plot is still relatively unclear, we know Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Naval aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and he'll be joined by a recognizable costar: The iconic F-14 Tomcat.

It looks like the old war plane will be coming out of retirement for more than just a cameo. A number of recently surfaced photos show an F-14 Tomcat aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, alongside Cruise and members of the film's production crew, the Drive's Tyler Rogoway first reported earlier this week.

Read More Show Less