Obituary: Todd Jackson, BA’96, EMBA’08, ‘We Have to Be the Change’

Photo of EB, Todd and Allie Jackson
EB, Todd and Allie Jackson (DANIEL DUBOIS)


In 2003, Todd Jackson was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was surgically removed and followed by 30 doses of radiation therapy. Last year another cancer, this time a grade IV brain cancer, surfaced, and Jackson died June 9, 2014, at age 40 in Nashville. During the decade between diagnoses, he did his best to ensure that researchers have the resources to create innovative cancer therapies.

In 2009, Jackson and his wife, Emily Blake (“EB”), a business administrator with the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, formed Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Young Ambassadors, a group of young professionals with a shared interest in fighting cancer.

“We have to be the change,” Jackson once said. “If you want things to get better, then take a position and do something.”

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Jackson dedicated several years to the fine arts in the Mid-Atlantic region. He returned to Vanderbilt in a fundraising role in 2001 and established a strategic vision for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s annual giving program.

Whenever the Commodores hit the football field, the basketball court, or the baseball field, Jackson could be found in the stands. Earlier this year he received the Vanderbilt Alumni Association’s new Alumni Volunteer Award in recognition of his efforts in launching the Young Ambassadors program and leading the Owen Graduate School of Management Alumni Council.

Survivors include his wife of six years, their year-old daughter, his parents, a brother and other family members. Memorial gifts to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Young Ambassadors may be made at