Features

Nicole Jackson – Events DC

From demolitions to digital content, a GC is hitting it out of the park

On the silver screen, demolitions are generally a simple matter of pushing a big red button. The reality is far more complicated, as Nicole Jackson knows all too well—but it can still be a lot of fun.

The general counsel for Events DC since October 2018—joining as a deputy general counsel in 2009—Jackson is part of a team that began working on the demolition of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in the District of Columbia in 2019. While the District owns the stadium, it leases the surrounding land from the National Park Service. Although Events DC operates the 45,596-seat closed stadium, it chose to proceed with a $20 million demolition as the stadium was over 60 years old.

Nicole Jackson | General Counsel | Events DC

Nicole Jackson | General Counsel | Events DC

Jackson helped put together a request for proposals to find a contractor to clean out and demolish the stadium. A contractor was chosen in February 2022, and a few months later, abatement work and interior demolition of walls and bathrooms began.

Events DC is hoping that demolition of the structure will be complete by the end of 2023.

“It’s been a complicated process but also a fun challenge—and we’ve certainly had a lot of those since 2020,” Jackson says.

When the team can’t leave the couch

As the name suggests, Events DC hosts conventions, entertainment, sports and cultural events in the District of Columbia. So, the organization isn’t just razing RFK Stadium but also putting together a farewell campaign. This includes selling the seats to fans and collectors. The final in person event will take place outside of the stadium in the summer of 2023 during the ongoing demolition process.

That timeline is fine with Jackson because she’s been busy with another project that started around the same time in 2020: the creation of Events DC’s GATHER website. The “virtual venue” was designed by Events DC’s Creative Serivces Division to bring the local community, clients and partners together for live streamed events. GATHER also functions as a repository for on-demand content related to food, sports, music, entertainment, culture and community.

This was a huge departure from Events DC’s regular business of hosting and organizing in-person events. As such, Jackson and her team shifted their focus to developing and executing new types of licensing and content related agreements. They also found new ways to streamline the procurement process, which helped them accommodate the evolving, unique business needs of Events DC’s Creative Serivces Division.

Nicole Jackson | General Counsel | Events DC

Nicole speaking with the Chief Administrative Officer in front of their offices in the Washington E. Washington Convention Center

“This was nothing like anything we’d ever done before but that was part of what made it a fun, new challenge,” says Jackson, who began working closely with the recently hired chief creative officer.

The effort was worth it. In 2022, Events DC’s original programming was nominated for three Emmys: “Sticks and Stones” for best sports story, “The Pins of Madeline Albright” for best documentary and “Embassy Chef Challenge” for best historical and cultural short form content, which won the Emmy.

“We had to navigate a whole new world, but it was—and is—fun,” Jackson says.

Hitting the right notes

Jackson enjoys the legal side of the entertainment business—unsurprising as both her parents are attorneys.

“I also wanted to be a singer too, but I can’t carry a tune,” she tells Vanguard with a laugh.

After graduating from Duke University School of Law in 1998, she started her career as a civil lawyer and became a judicial law clerk for District Court Judge Curtis L. Collier in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 2000, she moved to the District of Columbia and began asking the local legal community about where she could have the biggest civil rights impact. That led her to become an associate at the law firm of Kaye Scholer from September of that year until February 2006.

While there, she worked on a class action employment discrimination case and helped win an $80 million settlement for her client. She grew tired of law firm life and left Kaye Scholer in 2006, but in 2007, one of her friends in the District’s Department of Small and Local Business Development needed a general counsel. While it was a departure from her previous work, she became its general counsel and director of policy and planning in February 2007.

“My friend, he just convinced me to take the leap—and it was a great decision, even though it was very different from firm life,” she says.

When that friend left that agency to join the District’s Sports and Entertainment Commission, she eventually joined him in April 2009. That organization merged with the District’s convention center authority in October of that same year and became what is now the Sports and Entertainment Division of Events DC.

“I’m not a civil rights lawyer like I had planned—but I also don’t think I’m that far off from my original goal,” Jackson says. “I work closely with the District and the people who live here to provide them with a rich, fulfilling event experiences—and chances to create wonderful memories.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.

Published on: February 23, 2023

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