Jamaal Young

Jamaal Young

Hometown – Columbia, SC
Undergrad – Georgetown University, Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service
Title – Public Affairs Consultant

Greatest Impact

Before eight years ago, if I were to describe my greatest impact, I could have rattled off any number of career achievements as a political campaigner, policy advocate, and writer. Eight years ago, however, the trauma of my past threatened to overwhelm me, and I arrived at a point where I was almost unable to care for myself. Facing ever-increasing instability and deteriorating health, I made the choice to prioritize healing over professional ambition. This meant a daily effort to marshal the resources and support I needed to stabilize. It meant a serious commitment to mental health treatment. Trying to heal while living in a society where individuals and institutions alike openly discriminate against those with mental health disorders also meant educating myself on disability rights, fair housing, and health equity. Along the way, my greatest impact came into focus. People in the community noticed my success in battling unforgiving public agencies, callous employers, and capricious landlords. Neighbors began knocking on my door, asking me for advice on how to navigate the eviction process here in South Carolina, which maintains the nation’s highest eviction rate. Those interactions fueled my discussions with the national company that owns my apartment complex about the unfair, often denigrating treatment so many tenants had been subjected to by apartment managers. Most of those residents are people of color who have experienced trauma. Those discussions led the company to agree to my request to train their staff at over 40 locations across six states on how to provide trauma-informed housing services to low-income communities. Similar internal changes have happened after my interactions with other institutions, including a local university, hospital system, and police department. For me, there has been nothing more rewarding than to have my experience of healing also improve the quality of life for others.

Bio

Jamaal Young is a native of small-town Kansas with a perpetual wanderlust, having lived everywhere from Seattle to Spain to South Carolina, where he now resides. He has worked as a political campaigner, media researcher, newspaper columnist, public affairs executive, and entrepreneur and is considering a possible return to school to pursue a law degree. Currently, he is working with the Ron Brown Scholar Program to develop new ways to support the emotional well-being of our Scholars.