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Jewel Jones has been a predominate force in Anchorage municipal government for 32 years. Serving at the will of six mayors, her responsibilities have included executive management of City of Anchorage Social Services Department and the Municipality of Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services. During her time in public service, Jones recruited and mentored hundreds of minority men and women to work in public services and was instrumental in shaping the municipal health system, establishing the Anchorage Senior Center, and advocating for services for low-income families.
After leaving government service, Jones established her own consulting firm and spent several years providing business management consultation. She then took a “temporary” job as the interim executive director of the Anchorage Community Land Trust (ACLT) in 2007. ACLT is a community development organization that invests in grass-roots, community-based projects, specifically focusing on revitalizing Mountain View, a very low-income neighborhood in Anchorage. This temporary job has lasted six years and accomplished rehabilitation of a former abandoned furniture warehouse into a modern office building complex, facilitated bringing the first financial institution to Mountain View in more than 20 years, created affordable spaces for individual artist, and supports many community-based groups including William Tyson Elementary School.
Born in Oklahoma and an only child, Jones spent most of her primary years living with her paternal grandparents in Harlem, N.Y. One of the most memorable moments of her childhood was “having my grandmother walk to school with me every day and wait for me until school was out to walk back home.” Jones grew up with strong family influences. Her maternal grandmother owned oil-producing land in Oklahoma City. Being a woman of wealth in a segregated society, stores brought their goods to her home because she wasn’t allowed to shop openly in the department stores. Jones’ grandfather owned a soft-drink bottling company – ‘Jay Cola’ – during a time when a black person could not own a franchise, so their territory almost exclusively catered to the black community. Jones explains how her grandparents and parents “instilled a ‘can do’ and a ‘take-whatever-opportunity-is-before-you’ attitude and taught me to give it my best shot with full effort.”
In addition to her public and private service career, Jones has been active on many boards and community groups, including the board of Commonwealth North, United Way of Anchorage and the board of Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. She also spent eight years as the chair of the board of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, where she helped to ensure that senior housing projects were built across the state. Jones has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for women and minorities in Alaska and she has been active in the Alaska Black Caucus and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. With her close friend and colleague Eleanor Andrews, she was instrumental in the formation of the Anchorage Urban League which focuses on empowering young people, such as those who have aged out of foster care, but need assistance on their road to becoming contributing adults. She currently serves as a member of the board of trustees of Alaska Regional Hospital. She also has been the recipient of many honors and awards including the 2011 BP/YWCA Women of Achievement Award, the 2003 Anchorage Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Award, as well as “Citizen of the Year” from the National Association of Social Workers Alaska Chapter in 2001.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/hJ_p4O46-OY