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Activist, Filmmaker, and Northeastern Alumnus Designs for Social Change & Prepares for Fulbright in Austria

Jackson Hyland-Lipski.

Jackson Hyland-Lipski is an activist and filmmaker in New York City and a Northeastern alumnus who studied Film and Philosophy with a minor in Writing. He is currently the Visual Content Director for Women’s March Global, and recently accepted a Fulbright Scholarship for early next year to direct a short documentary exploring the treatment and experiences of Muslim women in Austria.

Jackson, who spent two years working as the Head of Web Development for Women’s March and for the original Women’s March on Washington, is now the Visual Content Director for Women’s March Global, an organization that supports local women’s human rights groups under its umbrella around the world. Jackson helped start the organization in early 2017, and there are now over 100 chapters on six continents focused on a wide variety of issues – from nationalism in Europe and reproductive rights in South America to combating gender-based violence in Africa and Asia. The organization was created to bring together a passionate, diverse global community of women and allies who seek to create a future of equality, justice, and compassion for everyone.

In his role as Global Coordinator and now Visual Content Director for Women’s March Global, he has focused on forming, upholding, and evolving the organization’s visual identity, as well as supporting the various chapters with their graphics and branding, communications efforts, organizational strategy and operations, and chapter on-boarding.

Every day is quite different for him – and unsurprisingly, there is always a lot going on.

“This year, we have supported many local actions around the world, and have also partnered with local and global organizations to form international actions, such as our Free Saudi Activists campaign,” Jackson explained. “When we’re preparing for the Anniversary marches on January 21st each year, the work intensifies as we come up with a theme, title, and logo(s) for the events. Disseminating the branding to our chapters as well as creating promotional graphics and videos is key so that as many people as possible are aware of and have access to joining events in their area. What has been really exciting for me as an individual is the amount of collaboration involved in organizations like this. There are roughly five full-time people at Women’s March Global, which demands and allows for a lot of brainstorming, fluidity, and collaborative problem-solving.”

Jackson’s time at Northeastern helped prepare him for such a dynamic, fast-paced role.

As a student, he completed a co-op as the Archival Assistant and Producer’s Assistant for the Netflix Original and Academy Award-nominated documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, which explores the life of musician and activist Nina Simone. While in New York, he also worked as Head of Development for Tangerine Entertainment, a production company that produces film projects written and directed by women.

“Both of these roles absolutely helped inform my interest in the intersect between film and human rights, as well as acted as a strong foundation to help me get jobs in these spaces after graduating,” Jackson said. “These positions introduced me to the documentary world and sparked my passion for the craft as an intersect between art and activism, which has very much led to my current positions and goals.”

Today, in addition to his work with Women’s March Global, Jackson has completed a lot of freelance video editing, filming, and graphic design work for groups such as Indivisible, DSA, March for Our Lives, Youth Empower, and The People’s Summit, among others.

“I have realized that I have so much inherent privilege as a cis white male that I feel it is my duty to use my privilege to support those who are marginalized as much as possible, amplify their efforts, and follow their lead,” Jackson said. “Being able to help so many devoted organizers around the world through my work is the most impactful and important way to use my skills and spend my time, and I am so fortunate to have the means to do so as my primary work.”

Jackson’s freelance projects are often hands-on and have a lasting impact – both on him as well as the organization he is helping. Last year, he had the opportunity to travel to Uganda with an organization called Operation International, which performs surgical missions around the world, to make a short documentary about the mission.

“This was a life-changing experience for me, as I was able to be involved in the surgeries to a small degree, helping deliver many babies, and being exposed to a level of extreme poverty I had previously never seen up close,” Jackson said. “This kind of direct impact is very different than the usual work I do in supporting people on the ground, so it has opened my eyes to another level of involvement within human rights work that I am driven to continue being part of.”

Jackson’s year ahead promises to be as busy (and rewarding) as the past few. This June, he will be traveling to Uganda again for a week and then to Liberia for two weeks to take part in two more missions with Operation International.

In addition, Jackson is starting to prepare for his upcoming arts-focused Fulbright in Austria, where he will be creating a short documentary titled ‘Othered’ that explores the treatment and experiences of Muslim women in Austria. He hopes to mainly explore the ways in which Muslim women are misunderstood, exoticized, and feared by the people of a predominantly and historically white society. Now, with the Fulbright a little less than one year away, Jackson is focusing on raising money for equipment, finding his main subjects, and planning everything else as much as possible. You can support and learn more about Jackson’s vision for the film here.

As he reflects on his projects and experiences so far, as well as his time at Northeastern, Jackson encourages current students to utilize their connections and lean into their passions and interests to pursue a career that is fulfilling and meaningful to them.

“I used to have the notion that the human rights and activism world is difficult to get into – that there is a strict and narrow identity/personality associated with this line of work, but this is very far from being true,” Jackson concluded. “If you are passionate about a specific human rights issue, or passionate about human rights in general, this world is open to you, and it needs people with every background and education. Many human rights organizations are in need of lawyers, accountants, graphic designers, videographers, web developers, and more – so don’t ever feel extraneous, because anything you bring to the table is very much needed.”