For Dr. Cari Jackson, her personal work of breaking through her self-limiting beliefs and behaviors and a deep belief that all people are one family serve as the foundation for all of her service in the world. She approaches her work as a writer, speaker-educator, social healer and leadership coach as opportunities to help people to express their greatest capacities. She integrates her personal story with her unique insights as a scholar, pastor, counselor, and leadership coach to help individuals, organizations and communities realize and achieve greater purpose by helping them identify and overcome self-imposed limitations and systemic barriers.
Mistakes give us the opportunity to learn. In order to use mistakes as the foundations of truth and learning, we must forgive ourselves.
Writing across several genres, Dr. Cari is as skillful in her comedic dialogue as in her scholarly writings. Through her self-help books on relationships, books engaging critical social analysis, screenplays featuring romantic comedy and adventure, poetry covering a range of themes, and more, Dr. Cari expresses the breadth of her interests in human relationships, religion and spirituality, and political, social and environmental issues.
Her writing is designed to help individuals from a cross-section of backgrounds and experiences to live into their fullest, deepest authenticity and to challenge ways of thinking and systems that impede individual and collective wholeness. She is a storyteller who uses her writing to expand the possibilities people imagine for their lives and society at large. She is the author of five books: Still Got Game (2015, co-author Carlton Greene), Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt (2013), For the Souls of Black Folks (2013), For the Least of These (2012), and The Gift to Listen, The Courage to Hear (2003).
Dr. Cari launched her Forgiveness Tour after being prompted by pain-filled questions about forgiveness during Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt book-signing events. She recognized that the ability for individuals and communities to thrive is directly connected with their ability to use forgiveness as a resource to heal from painful experiences.
Through Creatives Unlimited, Dr. Cari is now expanding her literary focus to include publishing and promoting the projects of other talented writers of books, television, and film who tell stories that inspire personal overcoming and empowerment, reflect the dignity of diverse cultures, and uplift the global human spirit. Look out for several upcoming projects!
Loving someone does not require that you intuit what they are feeling or needing. Love prompts you to set aside your assumptions about others and open yourself to see clearly what is possible in the current moment.
Her joyful spirit, genuine caring and insightful wisdom are readily apparent when Dr. Cari speaks. Whether in a television interview, a church setting, academic environment or community event, she inspires, informs and challenges audiences. She draws deeply from her toolbox of down-to-earth mother-wit, genuine love for all people, strong passion for social justice, vast theological knowledge, excellent comedic rhythm, and her special blend of intellectual, spiritual, and political acumen.
She addresses issues at micro interpersonal levels as well as macro political, social and economic levels with impact across racial groups, cultures, and nations. She does not shy away from controversial social issues, such as classism and poverty, racial discrimination and criminal profiling, gender and marriage equality, and reproductive freedom in fresh, transformative ways.
Her ability to connect publicly with others translates well in a variety of venues. Whether at a women’s prison in South Africa, an LGBTQ rally in Cuba, a primary school in Kenya, or a classroom of deaf students in the U.S., Dr. Cari captivates audiences with her natural style and approachable ease. She engages audiences in meaningful and interesting ways, often crossing language barriers. With or without the assistance of interpreters, Dr. Cari has a masterful ability to “speak in tongues.”
Once, when Dr. Cari was the final speaker on a panel in Cuba discussing religion and sexuality, despite her need to communicate through an interpreter, the audience became significantly more enlivened when she began her presentation more than they had been with any of the earlier, Spanish-speaking panelists. After the presentation, when she asked what made her presentation so distinctive from the other panelists, and she was told simply, “You spoke to our hearts as well as our heads.”
Dr. Cari has been adjunct faculty at Union Theological Seminary and One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, both in New York City, where she taught such courses as “The Christian Chase for Power” and “Ministry in Multicultural Contexts.” She has taught, lectured, and preached in Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Interfaith spiritual gatherings. When speaking in seminaries, she urges, “The ultimate value of your studying and learning in these hallowed halls becomes clear only when you engage theory and theology with the real issues and circumstances of people’s everyday lives.”
'Blessed are the peacemakers' doesn't mean keeping peace at all costs. Sometimes, we have to stir things up in order to make peace.
Dr. Cari has a special ability to see, analyze, and explain complex social issues in ways that promote social transformation and visible changes in people’s lives. As a scholar and teacher of social ethics and theology, and a student of psychology, sociology and public policy, she examines how the intersections of religion, economics, and politics influence how individuals and groups understand themselves and how they relate with others.
She has worked tirelessly as a bridge-builder, bringing together people of different races, social strata, religions, sexual orientations, and cultures to help them engage in rich dialogue and build meaningful, transformational relationships. As one white woman noted, “Because white people don’t feel judged or shamed by you, you help us look more honestly at ways many of us are privileged. You help us look at the ways we do contribute – intentionally and unintentionally – to the oppression of others.” Using scholarship about social systems, Dr. Cari seeks to inform those who are most privileged by systems that oppress others about the certain fragility of privileges derived from a system of oppression, and works to help them develop better, more sustainable social systems. She also seeks to educate those who have been socialized in systems of marginalization to distinguish the impacts of socialization from their innate human rights, and help empower them to engage in strategic action for social reform.
Dr. Cari is the executive for religious leadership and advocacy for Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. In that role, she innovates RCRC's public witness and pastoral care, expanding public understanding about "REAL pro-life" (not merely pro-fetal) as that which seeks reproductive justice rooted in the realities of women's lives and affirms the full humanity of all people.
She is founding director of Center of Spiritual Light, a non-profit community services organization which provides spiritual counseling and retreats to help individuals reimagine themselves for greater happiness, freedom and power in their lives. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC), Dr. Cari works ecumenically across religious and spiritual traditions. She has served as pastor of congregations in three Christian denominations – UCC, United Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church-USA.
Dr. Cari innovates ways to foster social healing. In South Africa, Dr. Cari adapted her “Taking Back My Life” program to facilitate a ground-breaking workshop for predominately male clergy to raise their consciousness about working with individuals who have experienced sexual violation. She spearheaded Every Valley: King Legacy Symposium on Community Economic Empowerment bringing together The Riverside Church, Union Theological Seminary, New York Theological Seminary, and U.S. Small Business Administration as partnering organizations to provide theological and entrepreneurial strategies and resources for economically disadvantaged communities in New York City.
Leaders are expected to be perfect, flawless, and know everything... However, guided by these expectations, the outcomes of decisions and overall impacts of leadership are often greatly limited.
Her work as a leadership coach and management consultant began when she was working in the staff training and development department of Prudential. As managers recognized her natural insights about management and leadership, she was sought out for advice and coaching well beyond the scope of her job to develop and conduct training classes.
Dr. Cari is the President of Excellent Way Consulting, a consulting group specializing in building the capacity of leadership and organizational effectiveness and impact. Dr. Cari works intimately with organizational leaders, integrating psycho-spiritual methods with traditional leadership strategies to maximize impact and positive change. As a result of her work, her clients become more effective in both their inter-personal, interactional skills, and also in their inner-personal, overall life skills. Her trademark focus is “leadership from the inside out,” helping effective leaders to become exceptional leaders by identifying and transforming any narratives they have about themselves or others that impede them from excellence.
One area of particular intellectual focus for Dr. Cari is social power. Through her book, For the Souls of Black Folks, she presents her analyses about power dynamics that disempower and marginalize, and offers practical strategies for shifting those dynamics in ways that strengthen the moral agency of black churchgoers. Dr. Cari challenges leaders to acknowledge the ways that power struggles in faith communities impede their potential to make valuable and meaningful contributions to one another and the world. Dr. Cari earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Social Ethics from Drew University, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology from Oberlin College.