Jackson first won elective office in 1989, upsetting a long-time Democrat incumbent Jefferson County clerk. She was re-elected in 1993. In 1998, Jackson ran for and won the race for Judge/Executive, and served one term. She was the last person to serve in that office before city and county governments merged in 2002; the office was largely replaced by the Mayor of Louisville Metro, though technically the office still exists in a largely ceremonial capacity. Jackson had been a staunch proponent of a consolidated city-county government.
Jackson joined the WHAS Crusade for Children in 2005, the first person from outside the WHAS-TV corporate structure to hold the post. She has been instrumental in establishing an endowment for the telethon, funded by bequests from people who left the Crusade donations in their wills. This endowment is designed to fund the day-to-day operating expenses of the organization, allowing 100 percent of the donations collected from the general public to go directly to agencies providing direct services to children with special needs.
Jackson is also active in her church, Highview Baptist Church. In 1980 she founded Kentucky's New Horizons, a social-recreation program for adults with handicaps, a ministry of Highview Baptist. She has directed it ever since. In 2006, she was appointed by Fletcher to the Board of Trustees for the University of Louisville.
Jackson has been married to Ralph W. Jackson since 1969. The couple has three sons and three granddaughters.