Miami Proud: For trailblazing attorney Yolanda Cash Jackson, it’s OK to be first, but never last
MIAMI – As the first black woman to serve as Chair of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the borough’s economic powerhouse, Yolanda Cash Jackson ticks another first on her list.
A Miami native, she grew up in Liberty City, graduated from Miami Edison High and is a double graduate of the University of Florida for both her bachelor’s degree and her juris doctorate.
In 1990, she had her first clerk job at a Miami law firm, being the only black female attorney.
A few firm steps later, she then joined Becker and Poliakoff (Becker Law), where she found her niche in lobbying.
Gifted at accessing and bringing legislators together, she has found success in the Government Law Practice Group and is a permanent shareholder. Among her numerous accolades, she was named Florida Woman of the Year in 2022 by Florida Trend Magazine.
Some of her proudest work has been representing private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“Ninety percent of these students come from families making less than $50,000 a year, and there’s a lot of talent out there,” Cash Jackson said. Currently, HBCUs receive about $30 million to use for maintaining access and recruiting in the form of scholarships.
“I love speaking up for people who need a voice,” Cash Jackson said. She was mentored by the late US Congresswoman Carrie Meek and company founder Alan Becker.
Along with her teaching parents, she credits them with shaping her for a career of firsts — like in 2019 as the inaugural speaker for her law school alma mater.
“You’ve never had a woman of color speak up before.”
Determined and resourceful, Cash Jackson was instrumental in commemorating the founder of Bethune Cookman University—and securing Mary McLeod Bethune a landmark presence at the US Capitol Statuary Hall in 2022.
This statue is the first black person to be selected by a state for this recognition.
For Cash Jackson, this was a “life-changing” event, she even traveled to Italy, where the statue was created, to see it unveiled there. Though she credits the university and others for the achievement, her role is undeniable.
As a champion of diversity, as chair of the Beacon Council, she wants to expand access to resources for all companies and support the new CEO in his role.
She says Alan Becker would have wanted her to take on the role. She says it’s important to highlight the ethnic “diced salad” rather than the “melting pot” of people across the county, a strength of the community, citing her barber shop as an example.
“In this salon is someone from Dominica, Ohio, Jamaica, Trinidad, Cuba, all in the same salon…this IS Miami.”
Community and roots mean everything, her hometown of Liberty City even honored her as a 2019 Liberty City Hero.
The trailblazer, steadfast rainmaker, never forgets where she came from and never misses an opportunity to inspire the next generation. She is a mentor, speaks on many committees and is well known in business circles and as a leader in civil society. How she describes herself is modest.
“I’m James and Ada’s daughter, that’s what my church members and my friends call me,” she says, adding, “Sharing my story might encourage another little girl from Liberty City to go to Charles Drew Elementary School who is.” Had Really Picky Hair in May Inspire her to go to law school and give back to the community. This is important.”
Cash Jackson says Congresswoman Meek was a big influence on her, and one of the things Meek taught her was that “service is the price we pay for the space we take up.”