HHFA's "Sista to Watch" is:
Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones
Occupation: Treasurer, City of St. Louis
Hometown: St. Louis
Follow her on Twitter: @tishaura
Building on a background as a public servant, financial services professional, and educator, Tishaura O. Jones was sworn in as Treasurer of the City of St. Louis, Missouri on January 1, 2013. She is the first woman to hold the office in the history of St. Louis.
Treasurer Jones is the chief investment and cash management officer of the city. Prior to becoming Treasurer, Jones established a track record of leadership in the Missouri House of Representatives. She was a Missouri State Representative from 2008-2012 and was the first African American and first woman Assistant Minority Floor Leader. During her tenure, she was a strong advocate for education, women’s reproductive rights and healthcare, and economic development.
Treasurer Jones enjoys an active volunteer career as a member of the St. Louis Metropolitan Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She also sits on the boards of the Wyman Center, The Independence Center, and People’s Community Action Corporation.
Born in St. Louis, Ms. Jones has a Master’s degree in Health Administration from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Hampton University. Prior to being elected Treasurer, Jones was employed as Vice-President of Municipal Finance for Blaylock Robert Van and as an adjunct faculty member at the Anheuser-Busch School of Business at Harris-Stowe State University.
Treasurer Jones is the proud mother of Aden.
HHFA recently asked Treasurer Jones about her career in public service and what advice she can offer to Black women across the country that also want to engage, advocate and lead.
HHFA: What inspired you to want to work in the political arena?
JONES: I grew up in politics and actually didn’t want to be a politician. My father was active in the civil rights movement in St. Louis and I watched him rise through the ranks from Committeeman, to Alderman, to City Assessor, and topping out as Comptroller. He actively practiced the politics of inclusion and provided an environment where Black businesses had a fair shot at opportunities available with the city. However, his career ended on a sour note and I didn’t think politics was for me. But, there are times when God has a plan that’s totally different than what you would ever dream of. I honestly believe that God’s plan for my life is to be a public servant. As a single mom, I never thought a career in politics was even remotely possible. I was born to serve and I knew I had to use the blessings God gave me to help make this world better for my son and the children of our next generation.
HHFA: What advice do you have for Black women that want to spark change?
Jones: Plan your work and work your plan. When I entered the race for Treasurer of the City of St. Louis, I was outraised and outmanned. But, I had heart, and I had a plan. I researched other successful campaigns, pulled together a small group of people who believed in me, and made a simple campaign plan that we executed to the letter. In the end, we were victorious because we were consistent, we were patient, and we were steadfast in our belief that we would win.
HHFA: What do you feel is the single most pressing issue facing Black women today and why?
Jones: The single most pressing issue facing Black women today is under-representation in elected office. It’s often said that if white America has a cold, then Black America has the full-blown flu. Women in general are under-represented in public office, but this plagues black women even more. We work around the clock at being smarter, faster and stronger than our white female counterparts. This also translates to the fact that even though the pay gap between white men and women is 30 cents, for black women it’s 40 cents. It seems odd that although we’re in the early 21st Century, we are still celebrating several firsts for black women. Until we truly realize Dr. King’s dream, that we are judged not by the color of our skin but the content of our character, we will continue to live with these disparities in pay and representation.
HHFA: Tell us about a woman mentor that has helped you on your journey?
Jones: I have several, but two come to mind. My late mother, Laura Jones, who encouraged me to always ‘be a lady’ in everything I do. Even though I am in what has traditionally been a man’s role, her words forever ring true, “Please and Thank You go a long way, no matter who you are.” In 1998, I was an algebra tutor in an inner-city middle school. The school’s librarian, Cora Lemmon, took one look at me and said, “You don’t belong here. I’m going to help you get out of here.” She then took my resume and sent it to a friend of hers who hired me. That one moment began my trajectory to complete my master’s degree, get involved in grassroots politics, and ultimately become the public servant I am today.