Rev. Dr. Janette C. Wilson currently serves as Senior Advisor to Rev. Jesse L Jackson Sr. and National Executive Director of PUSH For Excellence. She has worked with PUSH as a volunteer and/or staff member since she graduated from law school in 1980. Additionally, Dr. Wilson is the Senior Pastor of Fernwood United Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois and National Executive Director of PUSH Excel and Senior Advisor to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.
Dr. Wilson began her career as a chemist, transitioned to the legal profession and finally to Christian ministry. In 1971, Dr. Wilson received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. Four years later, she earned a Master of Arts Degree in Environmental Science/Planning from Governor’s State University and in 1980, received her Juris Doctorate from the John Marshall Law School and was admitted to the Illinois Bar the same year. Dr. Wilson accepted the call to the ministry in 1994, when she preached her first sermon on October 5, 1994, at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois. She was awarded a Doctorate of Divinity from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio in May of 1997 and was ordained by the Reverend Clay Evans, Pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, in September 1997.
Her employment record is as diverse as her educational background. Dr. Wilson has taught at every grade level, served as an environmental chemist, a pump engineer, trial lawyer (for 15 years), hosted a weekly cable television broadcast (for 25 years), administered a union based medical center (for 8 years) and has been engaged in the struggle for civil and human rights all of her life.
Dr. Wilson developed the first public school Interfaith Community Partnership for the Chicago Public Schools system (CPS), and was later employed as the Manager of School Climate for CPS. She organized the volunteer legal clinic for the National Rainbow PUSH Coalition Inc. and became its first volunteer director for a number of years. Prior to her employment with CPS, Dr. Wilson was the Acting General Counsel for Chicago State University. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of Operation PUSH. In this role, she implemented day-to-day operations of the organization, created community development networking programs, created local and national voter registration and education seminars, and introduced alternative sentencing programs in cooperation with various religious organizations.
Dr. Wilson has served as Associate Pastor of Grace Calvary United Methodist, Cosmopolitan Community Church, Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, Associate Pastor for Family Ministry at the First Baptist Congregational United Church of Christ in Chicago, and Associate Pastor of Leadership Development and Strategic Planning for the Providence MB Church. Additionally, she served as the 1st African American female Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
Dr. Wilson spent most of her adult life as a civil rights advocate. She has utilized her investigative skills developed during her years as an environmental scientist, her negotiating skills developed while practicing as a criminal defense attorney and her conscience as a Christian, to assist minorities in receiving social justice and economic parity. Additionally, Dr. Wilson’s commitment to youth is unquestionable. She has spent her adult life hiring, mentoring, employing, and establishing internship programs for youth.
Rev. Dr. Janette C. Wilson currently resides with her husband, Rodney Howard in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Wilson is a member of several civic and religious organizations including: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., American Bar Association uand Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Inc.