Dr. Jackie Young ’52

2014 Charles S. Judd Jr. ’38 Humanitarian Awardee
By Scott Osborn ’94

Dr. Jackie Young’s ’52 impact on Hawai‘i might not be evident to the younger generation, now that disability and gender equality rights are such widespread values in our society. From being a founding member of the Windward Spouse Abuse Shelter to serving as a member of the Hawai‘i State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Young has consistently worked to reduce discrimination in Hawai‘i and create a more equitable society.

After living in the continental U.S., Young moved back to Hawai‘i in 1977 and worked at the Hawai‘i Department of Education. She wrote rules and regulations, and helped to develop services to integrate children with disabilities into the public school system. She also served as the DOE’s director of gender equity.

In 1990, Young was elected to represent the Kailua – Waimanalo area as a state legislator. She became the first female vice-speaker of the House of Representatives and helped pass more than 30 bills related to crimes against women as part of the Women’s Caucus.

But as a supporter of marriage equality legislation since 1993, one of her proudest moments occurred recently when the Hawai‘i Marriage Equality Act passed in 2013.

Young has received numerous awards for her work in gender equity and civil rights from organizations including the National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Hawai‘i Women’s History Foundation and Hawai‘i Pacific University.

When asked about why she entered politics, Young remembers her grandfather saying: “If you care for your family, you have to care about politics.” She says her community involvement began as a student at Punahou, where she participated in many extracurricular activities off-campus.

As a student in the Academy, Young wrote a regular column for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin where she featured high-school student leaders from Hawai‘i. To this day, she runs into people who remember reading that column.

Young is also a breast cancer survivor and spent the past 15 years with the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific, broadening access to care for cancer patients. She retired in May 2013 as its chief staff officer, though she still manages to keep busy as a member of the Hawai‘i State Judicial Selection Commission, as well as serving on several executive boards, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I keep going because there is still so much to do,” she says, adding that, “life is good, but it can be better.”
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