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On Island Profile: Kevin Jackson

July 30, 2006 – Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, St. Croix and St. Thomas, Kevin Jackson is the quintessential renaissance man. A well-rounded individual, Jackson is as much at home on the dance floor as he is in intellectual pursuits.
One can usually find Jackson at the Divi Carina Beach Resort, where he is assistant general manager. In fact, he was part of the initial crew that opened the resort in 1999 and served as the hotel manager for several years. Jackson has an associate's degree in hospitality/tourism management from the College of Boca Raton in Florida. Immediately after college, he was hired by the V.I. Department of Tourism's Miami office as its youngest sales representative, where he was responsible for eight southern U.S. states.
His knowledge of the hospitality industry, along with an engaging personality, led Jackson to several opportunities in the field. His list of accomplishments include being involved in the startup of several properties including the Tamarind Reef Hotel, Divi and most recently the newly constructed White River Wilderness Resort and Spa, an eco-resort in Dominica.
Jackson has also worked at the Boca Raton Sheraton, the Coral Gables Holiday Inn and the White Plains Hotel in New York City.
Jackson is one of those people who never seem to have a bad day – and if he does he rarely shows it. He has an infectious laugh that can put anyone at ease and knows that a good personality and the right attitude matter in the hotel business and in life.
"To be in the industry, you should have a definitive like for people first and foremost," Jackson said. "There's a tremendous difference between service and servitude, and being able to cajole, listen and anticipate the needs of others are attributes that are most needed in this biz."
Clearly Jackson has the right stuff to succeed in his chosen career; but it is the chance to make a difference in the lives of the young people he meets that gives him his purpose in life.
"I take every opportunity to mentor and guide the youngsters who pass my way," Jackson said. "I enjoy passing along the knowledge and experiences I've garnered over my life and share them with youngsters hoping it would help them grow and develop into a strong individual able to stand on their own feet."
Jackson said the youth of today are missing a vital component in their lives – the benefits of the extended family.
"At one time here in the territory it was a commonplace thing," said Jackson, "but the components of the extended family have changed or have been phased out of the collective conscious of our community." He does his part by taking youngsters he encounters under his wing.
In regards to personal pursuits, Jackson has two great joys in life: traveling and reading. He loves to read so much that he made up his own name for his "bookmania."
"I'm a bookaphile," he said. "I read and collect books like some people do with shoes." Jackson said he has more than 400 books in his collection. His tastes range from books about the Harlem Renaissance, to 11th-century mystic poet Rumi, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison, E. Lynn Harris, Octavia Butler, Pedro Juan Gutierrez and James Baldwin.
Jackson said over the past month he's read the "Covenant with Black America," "The Purpose Driven Life" and the first novel by Crucian author Ahmad Simone, entitled "Lions and Butterflies."
Books and airplanes often go together, so it's no wonder flying is another passion of Jackson's.
"Put me on an airplane and I'm the happiest man on the earth!" said Jackson. He said he's "done the European thing" but has a great love for the Latin countries – including Miami. "It may as well be a Latin country," he said. Jackson is planning a trip to South America "with an emphasis on [the Brazilian state of]Bahia," and he hopes to travel to Cuba soon.
Talking to Jackson you sometime get entranced by his voice, which has that Barry White, late-night, smooth-jazz radio feel. That voice, another aspect of Jackson's personality, has enabled him capitalize on a side career as a professional voice-over artist. He is a former anchorman with the local ABC affiliate and is called on by community organizations to be master of ceremonies at various functions.
Just when you think you know a lot about Kevin Jackson, he asks if you knew that within the last three years he has lost a total of 155 pounds through diet and exercise.
"I currently weigh in at 205 pounds and went from a 48-inch waist to a 36, said Jackson. "It simply boils down to diet and exercise."
Jackson said he runs three miles three days a week and five miles twice a week. He also does resistance training and started a kickboxing class recently.
"I've realized that every Johnny cake and pate is not my friend, and besides I want to be the best looking and fittest old dude around."
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