Addison Jacobs, 2009 Woman of Achievement
“A problem solver’s problem solver.” “A consummate professional.” “An outstanding, effective leader” who “quietly gets things done – usually behind the scenes.” That’s how friends and colleagues describe 2009 Woman of Achievement Addison Jacobs.
Born in Manchester, Connecticut, Addison and her family lived in Tennessee, California, Idaho, and New Jersey before moving to Washington state.
Her mother taught English in high school and college and managed the Adult Basic Education/English as a Second Language program at Columbia Basin Community College. Her father, a nuclear engineer, also appreciated the importance of education.
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Addison recalls, “My mom and dad both encouraged my sister and brothers and me to get our education and be whatever we wanted to be,” said Addison.
She considered becoming a lawyer but decided instead to pursue a career in business and political science. She earned a degree in business administration from the University of Puget Sound then became a key accounts manager for a national sales corporation.
Addison’s public service career began in Tacoma and Pierce County, where she coordinated programs that provided transportation and housing repair assistance for elderly residents and persons with disabilities. In Southwest Washington, she coordinated Liz Luce’s successful campaign for Clark County Auditor and served as Washington Centennial Committee Director in Clark County.
Addison formed her own public affairs firm and managed it successfully for 14 years before becoming vice president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, she joined the Port of Vancouver, where she serves as director of public affairs and where, as a colleague noted, her “unique blend of acumen and personality makes her not only remarkably effective but a joy to work with.”
Two words sum up Addison’s life and career: civic spirit. A colleague noted that Addison is sought after for “her strategic mind, her gracious attitude and her razor-sharp business and political prowess.”
“The things that I’ve been drawn to over the years are those things that create a civic spirit,” said Addison, who has served on the boards of community organizations including the Southwest Washington Workforce Development, the Clark College Board of Trustees, and Identity Clark County. She also served as a commissioner on the City of Vancouver/Clark County Cable Commission.
“I like those activities that shine a light on the best of humanity and culture.” She adds, “I’ve always had this strong emphasis in my life on those things that provide prosperity and economic health for a community.”
She remembers, “At the end of the centennial celebration, we had a huge time capsule and I remember, to this day, that I used the word ‘prosperity’ in my statement for it. If you have a prosperous community, it means there is a lot of good to go around. People have jobs and they have their families and they have access to education and parks and more.”
Addison and her husband Don have two children, Jesse and Shelly. Addison describes herself as “deeply humbled” by being named a 2009 Women of Achievement honoree. “‘Women of Achievement’ aren’t, in many cases, women whose names roll off our lips or who are on the news all the time. They are women who have given to the community without thinking about reward. Amazing, amazing women.”
In business and in life, Addison Jacobs likes to see people reach their potential. “Don’t let that little voice – or other people – detract you from doing what you feel you most need to do or can give,” she says. “I like to see people do what they are passionate about…to encourage people to use what they have and fly.”