Sitting in the corner of a Starbucks in Long beach with a cup of coffee in one hand and her Apple laptop in front of her, Brande Jackson was at work even when she was away from work.
Jackson, a 27-year-old Cal State Fullerton graduate, is the founder and executive director of Lokahi Outreach, a business she started five years ago. The purpose of the organization is to fight against social injustice - particularly global poverty, by bridging various non-profit organizations and campaigns with cultural relevancy and the media industry by taking non-profit organizations on tour with bands like Coldplay, U2 and Dave Matthew's Band.
While many non-profit organizations have booths or make some sort of outreach at concerts, Lokahi takes it a step further by actually going on tour with the bands.
"We're sort of this middle group. What we do is kind of weird and really specific, so it's a really hard thing for non-profits to do," Jackson said.
Lokahi connects with different fan bases by reaching out to people who want to get involved, but may not know how.
"A lot of people want to be involved and want to join stuff, but no one reaches out to them in a way that connects with them," she said.
The most recent Lokahi Outreach project was partnering up the ONE campaign to fight against AIDS in Africa and extreme poverty U2 and Coldplay.
The organization has given more than 350,000 volunteers an opportunity to be a part of their movement to help bring social injustice into light for the past two years through the ONE campaign.
One of her co-workers, Daniel Binaei said, "Working for Lokahi has been an overall great experience. Â The work we do is very rewarding. To be able to share important messages with others about human rights and the environment has been a fantastic privilege. Â Further, to have the opportunity to support others in improving their ability to share these messages has also been a wonderful experience."
As part of her job, Jackson gets to travel on the road with different bands the organization is working with. Occasionally, she's on the road for many months out of the year.
"I spend a lot of time on the road. With touring I'll be gone for three, six, eight months out of the year. I'm typically gone during the summer and in 2005, I was gone for nine months out of the year," Jackson said.
Another perk is her celebrity encounters.
"We have a lot of weird encounters. When we set up a show, it's usually not as much the band that we're working with, it's just random celebrities there at the venue with us," Jackson said.
Jackson describes some of the unexpected encounters she and her staff have had.
"We were in an elevator once with Jay-Z and Beyonce. We were at Madison Square Garden, and while we were loading out, Anderson Cooper held the door open for us," said Jackson.
What strikes Jackson's heart the most are the volunteers and fans they meet on the road and at events, she said.
"I think it's more of the fans we meet that are really cool. And that's what's rewarding, my staff and I probably talk to close to 1 million people, without exaggerating. I'm probably more inspired and interested in people I meet people on a day-to-day basis. It reenergizes you," Jackson said.
Jackson finds pride in her and the volunteers that help out with the outreach programs.
"A lot of people complain about what goes on in the world, but you woke up and chose to do something today and that's huge," Jackson said.
The most important thing to Jackson seems to be the impact the organization makes in the world.
"A lot of people care about stuff, but don't get to act on it, I'm sort of lucky in that I've managed to create something where we can get up everyday and act on it."
Long before Jackson became the founder and executive director of her own organization, she grew up constantly surrounded by her family business. Growing up in a business environment since she was 14, prepared her to start up her own landscape company at age 17. In her 20s, she began working with non-profit organizations.
"I wanted to do more with politics and activism," Jackson said.
While at CSUF taking grad classes, Jackson participated in the 2000 elections as a political activist. Jackson also took political science classes in grad school.
"Professors were in touch with what was going on culturally, politically at the time. It's easy to get isolated from that," Jackson said.
Pamela Steinle, professor of American studies and graduate adviser, was one of the professor's Jackson worked with during her graduate studies.
"It's the excitement of seeing them learn to ground their interests and abilities in historical context; to take up and refine their critical thinking through the interdisciplinary work that is inherent to American Studies," Steinle said.
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