Karen Jackson will be presented with the 2023 Reimagining Spirituality Leadership Award by the Religion and Spirituality Interest Network of AAIDD at the Network Forum on June 5, 2023.
We are pleased to announce Karen Jackson as the 2023 recipient of the Reimagining Spirituality Leadership Award! This award recognizes the creative ways she has promoted opportunities for people with disabilities for personal spiritual growth, developing enriching relationships, and participating in spiritual or religious community.
Mrs. Jackson lives in Norfolk, VA with her husband Scott and daughter, Samantha. She graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a BM in Music Education and Clarinet Performance and from Temple University with an MM in Music Education. She has been a professional music educator for 33 years and is currently Director of Bands and Fine Arts Department Chair at Norfolk Christian Schools.
Karen’s experience in the faith and disability community began 15 years ago when, while searching for a congregation that would welcome her daughter who is severely affected by autism, she began advocating in congregations in her community. In 2007 she accepted a position as her Catholic church’s first Parish Advocate for persons affected by disability. This volunteer position led Karen to found Faith Inclusion Network in 2008.
In addition to leading Faith Inclusion Network for the organization’s first 14 years, Mrs. Jackson has spoken at a variety of conferences, including the AAIDD Annual Meeting, TASH Annual Conference, the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability and the AUCD Annual Conference. Her published writing includes articles in The Catholic Virginian, U.S. Catholic, TASH Connections and for various websites. She also contributed to the book, Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability and Inclusion by Mark Pinsky and is the author of her own book, Loving Samantha published in 2015.