• Where does the motivation to achieve and excel, sometimes against all odds, come from? Read More
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Watch Jolanda in Action

2009 Hero Awards 2009 Hero Awards

Debra Duncan Interview Debra Duncan Interview

Dilemma of Educating Student Athletes Dilemma of Educating Student Athletes

Heroes Among Us Heroes Among Us


About Jolanda

Jolanda “Jo” Jones rose from a childhood of poverty and tragedy to become a successful mom, business owner, lawyer, elected official, sought-after television personality, analyst, speaker and scholar. She is an author and guest contributor for various media outlets. She is a member of numerous Halls of Fame, a CNN Hero, a 4-time national track and field champion and an All-American basketball player. She has a proven track record of leadership, commitment, charity and teamwork. She is a community activist and life skills coach.

Jolanda was moved to make a difference as the direct result of her traumatic childhood that started tragically with her father committing suicide with her in the room with him. That defining moment taught her to fight and not succumb to adversity. She now fights to empower the powerless and has, among other things, won a CNN Hero award for her bravery in saving a young girl’s life by extricating her from a burning car that had fallen 100 feet and exploded right after Jolanda pulled her from the car and carried her to safety.

Why Jolanda? Her life of tragedy overcome gives her an inspiring perspective. Her experience as an elected official makes her analysis of local and national politics spot on. Her very successful legal career, starting off as a civil litigator and evolving into one of the toughest family and criminal defense lawyers in Texas allows her to go blow for blow with anyone on legal issues. Her experience as a survivor of domestic violence gives her a personal perspective and unique connection to women, especially those in abusive relationships. And finally her long-standing battles with law enforcement and “the system”, related to disparate treatment of minorities and the poor, gives Jolanda inimitable insight into topics dealing with race-relations and police brutality.

Jolanda is also fluent in Spanish as has done numerous interviews and commentaries on Spanish-language stations, including Univision and Telemundo.


  • Success For Yourself +

    I used to want to be successful to please everyone else. True maturity, I think, is wanting success for yourself. That's when you get really serious. That's when you think, 'I'm not doing this for anyone's approval. This is personal.'

  • Not Letting It Slip By +

    One of the worst feelings in life is 'What if...' If you attempt something, even if it's late in life, even if you fail at it . . . you won't go through the rest of your wondering, "What if I tried?' Or, 'I wonder if I could've done it...'

  • Literacy +

    Literacy is what has allowed me to achieve success. Books and newspapers allowed me to travel far from my surroundings as a child. And my extensive reading increased my vocabulary and helped me to be a better speller -- and a better writer. I cannot overstress the importance of reading.

    People who read well are confident in all aspects of life -- simply because reading is necessary everywhere, whether it be to review contracts; to submit a bid for an entrepreneurial endeavor; to follow driving directions; or just to understand warning labels on products. . . . Don't start out with a novel. The comics will suffice. And don't be ashamed if you don't read as well as you would like. I'm a better reader now than I was when I started out. I practiced, and I asked questions if I didn't understand.

  • Labels +

    The labels associated with where I come from don't have to lead to welfare, prison, or worse. You can learn positive things from adverse situations.

  • Telling the Truth +

    I've built a career and a life on being involved, ambitious, and committed - committed to others, and to myself. I'm building a business on helping those less fortunate, and, like my activist mother was in the 1960s, I'm a political person - as well as a brutally honest one. But as a great writer once said, "The most political act you can commit is to tell the truth.

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