Jolanda’s Biography

4 Generatons of Joneses

Jolanda “Jo” Jones rose from a childhood of poverty and tragedy to membership in numerous Halls of Fame, a CNN Hero, a 4-time national track and field champion, an All-American basketball and track athlete, an honor roll student, a Rhodes Scholar nominee, a successful business woman, a Houston City Council member, a television personality and a nationally recognized public speaker. She has a proven track record of leadership, commitment, charitable work and teamwork.

Jolanda was raised by her single-mom after her dad committed suicide. Amazingly, Jolanda was with him when he did it. Ultimately she and her four younger siblings, most of whom had different fathers, were confronted with multiple evictions, lack of food, gas, water and electricity. Their rent house burned down from using candles due to the lack of electricity. Sadly her family lost many treasured belongings, including Jolanda’s loss all of her father’s belongings, including his American Flag for his US Marine Corp. service. True to form, Jolanda and each of her siblings attended school the next day smelling of smoke in borrowed clothes but never missing a step. As the oldest, she had the adult responsibility of cooking, cleaning and caring for her siblings. Jolanda was raped by an uncle over a period of years as well as by an acquaintance in college; domestically abused by her boyfriend and husband; shot at and seen dead bodies in her neighborhood; and bullied by classmates and friends. She overcame a difficult relationship with her mom that has now been repaired; the murder of her brother, aunt and numerous cousins; the SIDS death of her niece, and survived death threats related to her legal practice. These experiences have given Jolanda a level of toughness and compassion that allow her to connect with audiences in a positive and never before seen manner.

Jolanda has distinguished herself legally in the courtroom and among her peers. She won prestigious legal awards such as the NAACP Alex Award for outstanding legal skill, as well as the Houston Lawyer’s Association Francis Williams Founder’s Award, among others. In the courtroom, Lawyer Jones helped shut down Houston Police Department’s Crime Lab by shining a light on HPD’s shoddy science which locked up innocent people and allowed the guilty to roam free. She used her legal acumen and fearlessness to take on then-State Representative Talmadge Heflin, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, who had illegally taken the child of Ugandan immigrant Mariam Katamba. Jolanda reunited mother and child. Her trial skill was displayed when she convinced a jury that her innocent young Black unemployed client, who was at the scene of the crime and was caught fleeing the scene, was not guilty, on two counts, of ambushing the police and firing 17 shots at them notwithstanding that the majority of the prosecution witnesses were either police officers or DEA agent eye witnesses to the crime. After a two week trial, Jolanda’s client was found Not Guilty, as he should have been, while his co-defendant cousin, in the same trial with the same jury, was convicted on both counts and sentenced to 20 and 40 year sentences, respectively.

Houston Style Magazine

While on City Council, Jolanda was the voice for Houston’s disadvantaged and disenfranchised. She stood up for fairness and equality for all while working on job creation and business opportunities especially small and minority businesses. She helped govern a $4 billion dollar budget and negotiated an unprecedented $250 million dollar, three-year contract for Black and Hispanic health care providers with the city. Her legal knowledge and hard knocks upbringing played a huge role in re-calibrating that unjust system and raising the standards for incumbent city council members to meet./p>

To date, Jolanda has saved five lives. One: a gunshot victim. Two: an SUV rollover victim who was ejected on the freeway. Three: a hit and run victim. Four: a victim passed out on a busy street. And her fifth and most notable save, for which she won a CNN Hero Award, was Megan Kaplan. A teenager, whose car fell approximately 100 feet off of a freeway interchange, caught fire and exploded seconds after Jolanda and her son extricated her. Jolanda ran 50 meters, with Megan in her arms, to safety. If someone is in danger and Jolanda is near she will be the person who rushes in to save whoever needs saving. Jolanda feels obligated to save people due to the many times she was a victim of circumstance and in need of help combined with her mother’s teachings that she had better have the courage to do what is right and help people who, but for her help, would be helpless./p>

Jolanda’s biggest accomplishment is her son, Jiovanni. Although she raised him as a single-parent and struggled to do so, he is now a senior Dean’s List scholarship Finance Major at Texas public university. Jolanda works hard and smart at everything she puts her mind to and helps and inspires people along the way no matter the obstacles./p>


Jolanda’s Motivation

Jolanda Jones Running
  • A child born in a region known as Third Ward in Houston, Texas, to a 19-year old mother and a 20-year old father
  • A child whose father committed suicide while Jolanda was in the room with him, an event which profoundly impacted and shaped her life.
  • A child who was sexually abused on a continual basis by her uncle.
  • A child who endured psychological abuse daily.
  • A child who saw gun-shot victims, alive and dead.
  • A child whose friends never considered college an option.
  • A young woman who’s brother was brutally murdered, shot five times, exactly two weeks before she tried out for the 1996 United States Olympic Team.

Jolanda’s Experience

Jolanda’s speaking experience has taken her to venues as varied as Mistress of Ceremonies for audience listening to Miss America; keynote speeches from St. Louis Missouri to Miami, Florida; conference rooms in corporate America; prisons for incarcerated youth in Providence, Rhode Island; gatherings of public school educators and administrators in Boston and Dallas hotel ballrooms; informal groups of both secondary school and university students and athletes, from the East Coast to the West Coast; conferences of fraternities and sororities; and gatherings of disenfranchised people. Her ability to connect with audiences on subjects of importance is versatile and unlimited.
Jolanda Jones Speaking At Kipp
  • Abstinence: Sex and Drugs
  • Balancing Athletics and Academics
  • Character
  • Education
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Leadership
  • Life Skills
  • Literacy
  • Overcoming Obstacles
  • Self-Esteem
  • Study Skills
  • Team Building
  • Violent Crime Effect
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