Thirty-six years of civil service highlight Cora Jackson Fossett’s career as she makes plans to pursue her passion for books and reading through the audio publishing industry as well as community service. In retirement, her desire is to begin narrating audio books and to support literacy and reading at public libraries.
“I will really miss being able to help people,” said Jackson Fossett. “People can and do get lost when looking to government for answers, so there has always been a sense of satisfaction for me in helping residents get to the right people or having their concerns and issues resolved.”
Later serving as the Public Affairs Director for the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Jackson Fossett learned at a very early age from her mother, Georgia Francis Meeks, to write press releases for their church in Gary, Indiana. In addition to her mother, she credits four “amazing women” who provided her with inspiration and guidance in the field of public affairs: former Board of Public Works Commissioner, Valerie Lynne Shaw; former Department of Transportation General Manager, Rita Robinson; former Operation Clean Sweep and Office of Community Beautification Director, Delphia Jones and L.A. Sentinel Executive, Brenda Marsh-Mitchell.
“I gained so much from interacting with, watching and learning from these very special people,” said Jackson Fossett while reminiscing about her career. “I truly thank these wonderful women for supporting and strengthening my belief in serving the people. And it’s because of their dedication as well as the commitment of many others, my career has been devoted to government being accountable, transparent and holding true to the public’s interest.”
She thanked the city's leadership and stressed her accomplishments were a reflection of many team efforts and those of the people she worked with every day. “The support I received throughout my career has made my job easier, and the best moments were personally rewarding for the shared experiences in making a difference for city residents.”
Jackson Fossett earned a bachelor’s degree at Indiana University and completed graduate courses at Columbia College in Chicago. She also holds certificates in marketing management and standardized emergency management. She began her civil service career in 1978 as a mail handler and newsletter editor at the U.S. Postal Service in Gary, Indiana and as a public affairs specialist in Chicago, Illinois and Long Beach, California.
In 1990, she was hired by Los Angeles World Airports as a public relations specialist for the Los Angeles International Airport. Her most memorable moments at LAX include meeting Nelson Mandela as an awardee of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to dismantle apartheid in South Africa before he was elected its first black president, and meeting former U.S. President Bill Clinton. She said, “Both men were gracious and kind, so down-to-earth and unpretentious.”
In 1999, Jackson Fossett was promoted to the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works to serve as the director of the department’s Public Affairs Office, where she managed the Board of Public Works’ community and media relations programs. Under her leadership, the Public Affairs Office received nine industry awards for its outstanding, creative and highly effective communications programs. In addition, she received five Emmy nominations for producing programs about public works activities and operations.
Jackson Fossett served as vice president of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Professional Managers Association, the bargaining unit representing the city’s top level employees and was president from 2006 to 2012 of the Los Angeles Association of Black Personnel, the official representative for city employees of African American heritage.
Jackson Fossett was featured in the publication, “Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles” for three consecutive years. In 2008, she was recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of L.A.’s most successful women, and in 2009, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a honoree of the National Association of University Women.
In 2010, Jackson-Fossett was elected to the board of directors of the American Public Works Association as director of Public Works Management and Leadership. She is the first African American woman to serve on the national board of the 28,000 member organization.
A member of Brookins Community A.M.E. Church, Jackson Fossett serves as a Sunday School teacher, chairs the public relations committee, and is a member of the Steward Board. In addition, she is the religion editor for the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper, the largest African American weekly on the west coast, and a member of the National Association of Religion Writers. She is married to Kelvin Fossett and mother to one son, David.