“We always talk about generational wealth. Well, education is a part of that,” says Dr. Kimberle Jackson-Butler, the new executive director of the law school pathway program, Law School…Yes We Can.
In addition to her new role, Jackson-Butler is the founder and principal of RE+Cognition, LLC, an educational consulting company focused on applying relevant research from the neurosciences to help organizations and educational institutions develop a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment.
No stranger to serving and supporting under-represented communities, she spent over 20 years as a school administrator and counselor, as well as many years as a board member in various community-based organizations.
When the opportunity presented itself at Law School…Yes We Can (LSYWC) in July of last year, she immediately thought, “That’s it; that’s my dream job,” says Jackson-Butler, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
She attributes the start of her passion for community involvement and education to her parents who were “always involved in the Black community.” The youngest of three children, she has two older brothers, one of whom happens to be former Denver County Court Senior Judge Gary Jackson. He was recently inducted into the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame.
In high school, she was one of the last few people to be bused from Cherry Creek to Manual High School where she was able to witness a role model like James Ward, the first Black principal in Colorado. That was, at the time, a direct representation of what she believed a leader should be.
“Their voice and their commitment to the Black community just resonated with me in alignment with my family values, and I think that is when I wanted to become an educator,” Jackson-Butler explains.
Law School…Yes We Can was established and founded in 2014 by Christine Arguello, the first Hispanic United States District Court Judge in Colorado and a Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inductee. The program closes the gap between high-achieving college freshmen from diverse backgrounds and law school. Being the first-ever college-to-law-school pipeline of its kind in Colorado, its goal is to illustrate the law school application process and give these students access to the legal profession using pillars such as mentorship, community and exposure. Each fellow of the program gets direct access to four mentors, who include a law student, a junior or mid-level attorney, a senior attorney, and a judge, for all of the fellow’s college career and beyond.
As someone who almost pursued a career in law, Jackson-Butler understands the importance of representation, mentorship and having the right tools. Though she had exposure to lawyers and judges through her brother and his friends, she believes that if she had the special connection that the mentors provide to the students via Law School…Yes We Can, she may have decided to pursue a career in law. She emphasizes that the program also preps fellows for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and provides a scholarship so that they can take it without worrying about the cost.
With this new responsibility of steering the organization and managing its operation, her focus and passion is on ensuring the program is dispelling all the “invisible barriers” that its students will have to experience. She believes that one of the many exciting parts of doing this work is that every student will be able to be aware of the difficulties they may face on this journey to law school, and in turn “if they know what they are, they’ll be able to attack them better.”
She finds importance in each student knowing that not having the advantages of their counterparts does not mean that they cannot “pursue their dreams.”
Jackson-Butler wants has many goals for the future of the program. She wants to bring in more Black students especially males, develop a program that will target students as young as middle school all over the state, and make connections with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country. Lastly, she’s passionate about continuing to tap into the power of mentorship even for students that leave the program and decide that they no longer want to pursue law.
Law School…Yes We Can is taking applications for fellows and mentors until the end of March.
Editor’s note: Information is available at https://lawschoolyeswecan.org and applications can be found under Apply on the main menu.