By Andre LaFontant
Malvern, PA — When asked to describe her remarkable ascent through the pharmaceutical industry—which is much more than a light jaunt at thirty-four years of experience—Kamil Ali-Jackson, Esq., Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary of Aclaris Therapeutics used one word: serendipity.
“I wanted to be a lawyer who argued international cases at The Hague in the Netherlands,” Kamil explains. “I started out as a litigator and ended up as an international transactional lawyer, working in-house for a pharmaceutical company. I ultimately co-founded a few small specialty and biopharmaceutical companies where I also was the only in-house attorney.”
In 2012, Kamil parlayed her legal aptitude into the co-founding of Aclaris Pharmaceuticals Inc., a company whose mission centers around finding drug solutions to dermatological conditions that were sorely underserved.
One of five children, she attributes her respect for her mother, Ruth, as a source of constant motivation. “She was bi-polar, a homemaker,” says Ali-Jackson, “She never reached her potential because of her mental illness and life choices. She was never sad or depressed. She was always up. If she could be happy with less, then why would I, with all of my opportunities, be sad?”
Her own experience as a mother also puts the conquering of the corporate arena into perspective. Kamil states, “I have dealt with life and death. I had four children, one son, and three daughters. My son, my oldest child and only son, died at three, in a car accident. My husband and I had to make the decision to take him off life support.”
Any kind of obstacle that arises in the founding of a company could never measure up to that kind of hardship. As Kamil puts it, “the battles I have engaged in and endured have only empowered me and made me stronger and more committed to helping the historically and currently disadvantaged.”
Kamil has honed her sense of fearlessness, born from challenging times, into a distinctive work ethic. The career pinnacle that she has attained, however, is not one that she wishes to keep only for herself. As she states, “I can use my hiring and purchasing power to establish, promote, and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives. If I feed myself, I’m the only one that survives. It’s a lonely existence. If I give other disadvantaged people the opportunity to earn a living to feed themselves and their families, an entire community, of which I can be a part of, survives and thrives.”
A commitment to her identity is something that goes hand in hand with Kamil’s beginnings. Her mastery of the industry in which she works reinforces her ability to navigate inherently non-diverse spaces. “Until the concept of racial identity is eliminated,” she explains, “we must all continue to ‘wear the mask.’ That is the reality of being black in America-no matter where you are in life. My identity as a black woman is with me everywhere I go, so I embrace it and never deny it.”