“We [Black women] have been the backbone of democracy for decades. What we haven’t done as good a job of is requiring a return on investment through our elected officials. You will see us, you will hear us, and you will address us. We’re centering us in policy for the first time. That is where change will come.”
After putting her life back together following a traumatic and violent marriage, Rochelle Jackson became an advocate and organizer of the Welfare Justice Project of Just Harvest in 2001. The Welfare Justice Project was born in the aftermath of the 1996 welfare reform and Rochelle sought to educate and empower those affected by the welfare system to demand changes at all levels of government. Her passion for economic and social justice, as well as the elimination of hunger, is inspired by her own journey and informs the work that she does every day. Highly regarded for her dedication and commitment to the mission, Rochelle was promoted to Public Policy Advocate at Just Harvest in October 2012. During this time, Rochelle was a part of the first graduating class of the YWCA’s Enterprising Women Business Training Program, and she launched her own consulting and life coaching business in 2007.
With the help of various programs, while rearing four children by herself, Rochelle put herself through school to obtain both an Associate’s degree in Health Information Technology, with a minor in Child and Family Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, with minors in both Sociology and Psychology.
Rochelle serves on the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Income Maintenance and Consumer Subcommittee of Medical Assistance Advisory Committees. She is on the board of directors for Neighborhood Legal Services, the board of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, the President of the Clients Council of Pennsylvania, and a member of the Coalition for LowIncome Pennsylvanians (CLIP). She has been involved with Allegheny County Family Support for over 25 years and has served in various roles on the Policy Board, including assuming the role of chairperson. Rochelle is also on the board of directors for Dress for Success Pittsburgh, Jeremiah’s Place, and is the Vice Chair for When She Thrives. Most recently, Rochelle became a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (GPNP) Advisory Committee and joined the Board of Directors of the Keystone Research Center, a PA statewide organization.
In 2016 Rochelle was recognized and received the Excellence Award from the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network for her work over the years on behalf of low-income Pennsylvanians. A video of her accomplishments can be viewed here:
She is a graduate of the Coro Center for Civic Leadership’s Women in Leadership and has volunteered as a hotline counselor and advocate for both Womensplace Women’s Shelter and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. In July 2017 she joined the Women and Girls Foundation to direct their new Femisphere Project. In May 2019, she was selected as one of 25 Essential Pittsburghers.
In November 2019 Rochelle transitioned out of the Women and Girls Foundation to focus full-time on establishing the Black Women’s Policy Agenda and incorporating the Black Women’s Policy Center, Inc. In addition, Rochelle founded Catalyst for Change Consulting and Coaching, with the mission of empowering people with the knowledge and skills to advocate public policies for social change and civic engagement, as well as personal enrichment. Rochelle had the opportunity to contribute her expertise and experience to two book projects: “Scenes from a Single Mom” and “Women of Courage.”
Rochelle relishes working for the education and upliftment of women so that they can be fully informed to live their best lives.