Meet wine scion Julia Jackson, founder of Grounded and a North Bay Women in Business Awards winner
North Bay Business Journal asked 2019 Women in Business Awards winner Julia Jackson to fill us in on her background, responsibilities and community involvement, and insights into what makes her a notable professional in the region.
Professional background: Second-generation proprietor at Jackson Family Wines
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Scripps College
Tell us about yourself and your company: I come from a family of farmers. The environment has been of deep importance throughout my life; my family's business depends on a symbiotic relationship to the land to produce wine, and our love and understanding of it is part of what has made us successful. I grew up feeling a profound connection to the planet and understanding the importance of taking steps to protect it.
Over the past few years, I have watched our climate crisis become increasingly devastating, with significant impact across the world. From catastrophic wildfires and flooding to unpredictable weather, we are seeing increasing rates of natural disasters weekly. That's why I launched Grounded, a nonprofit dedicated to accelerating scalable solutions to climate change and increasing awareness around this urgent issue. The inspiration for Grounded is personal as much as it is global. This isn't just about me, but the threat to humanity as a whole.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
In March, Grounded held its inaugural summit, which convened over 250 scientists, activists, world leaders, corporations and more to share solutions to our current ecological breakdown and serve as a platform for innovators working on tangible solutions. Establishing Grounded is one of my greatest accomplishments and this year's summit was an enlightening and inspiring way to begin the work.
Governor Jerry Brown opened the summit, which was an immense honor. To have this visionary leader and fierce advocate for the environment open the event was a humbling experience. It was powerful to see people from all different backgrounds and experiences come together to talk about the biggest threat facing our world today. Many important conversations and collaborations were started over the two days, and we formed an ongoing community that believes in driving solutions forward. We have a lot of work to do, but breaking ground is an incredible accomplishment within itself.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
This May, we received the Sustainable Event of the Year award from the Green Meetings Industry Council, Northern California chapter. We were very honored by this recognition, especially in our first year. It was our top priority to be a regenerative event, and to be highly conscious of our environmental impact, so it was especially meaningful to be recognized for our efforts.
What is your biggest challenge today?
My biggest challenge, and our biggest challenge as a society, is helping people understand the severity of climate change and the urgency at which we need to foster immediate and long-term solutions. Our planet needs to get its act together.
There is still a pervasive belief that we have more time before climate change causes lasting damage to our Earth, however, some studies show that we might be witnessing the Arctic's first ice-free summer within 10 years. I believe in human ingenuity and the ability to come together as a community, but we shouldn't be reacting at the 11th hour. This is why Grounded is looking to proactively accelerate critical and time-sensitive solutions not for the planet's future, but for ours.
Words that best describe you: Creative, empathetic, driven, optimistic yet impatient.
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
As a woman, I have found that I am sometimes underestimated. While that could be seen as an obstacle, I actually think that it's one of my biggest strengths. At face value, they would never anticipate that I like to take risks and set high goals. I have committed my entire self to Grounded by putting my head down and focusing on the work, without focusing too much on other people's opinions about me. Being laser-focused on the mission helps transcend any perceived obstacles.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
I believe there will be much greater demand for solutions within the next five years and that people will understand that in order to preserve humanity and a living planet we must support them.
There's a lot of talk about “saving the planet,” and not as much talk about “saving humans.“ The planet will regenerate, with or without us. We need to focus on researching time-sensitive solutions that will buy us some time to convert to a regenerative society. In the next five years, corporations will realize that it is in their best interest to preserve their profits by investing in the planet and we will be working together to accelerate climate solutions.