Getting Black people involved in politics has been Krysta Nicole Jones’ mission for over 15 years.
Voting rights will be front and center this week in Washington, while one local organization is working to make sure people in Virginia have a pool of diverse candidates to choose from.
Getting Black people involved in politics has been Krysta Nicole Jones’ mission for over 15 years. While she was working on her master’s degree at George Washington University in 2006, she wrote her thesis paper on the lack of black congresspeople in Virginia.
She then founded an organization, dedicated to increasing the number of blacks who run for office. Jones says Vote Lead Impact has trained people in fundraising and media relations and provides mentoring to people interested in entering politics while encouraging people to get involved in the community.
Although she knows of candidates who have won races without significant financial backing, she says one of the main stumbling blocks is she sees fundraising.
She says of some candidates, “They simply have not built the relationships, not necessarily on the ground in the community, but within the political community.”
Vote Lead Impact, Jones says, has provided scholarships through leadership development programs to people who want to build those relationships and further their leadership knowledge and skills.
She says they also have honored black leaders in sponsored programs that offer networking opportunities for political hopefuls and have given them the chance to meet leaders who are already involved in politics.
The Florida native moved to the Washington area after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Political Science. She lived in Washington for nearly a year before deciding to join the Peace Corp.
Jones spent two years in Paraguay, South America as a volunteer, which she calls, “One of the most critical learning experiences of my life.”
She says, “People would stare at me, laugh at me, say things about my hair.”
It was 2000. At the time, she thought she was experiencing racism, but as time passed, she says she realized, “It was ignorance”.
She says the people were greatly influenced by the stereotypical images they had seen of African Americans in soap operas and sitcoms on American TV programs that aired in Paraguay. Jones worked on democracy-building in elementary schools near the capitol of Paraguay.
She also founded two organizations while there, one focusing on minority Peace Corp volunteers, the other on the general volunteer population. Those organizations were precursors to the work she would do when she returned to the States to promote the power of advocacy.
Jones says after years in the business, she is able to see things from several lenses, “from the lobbyist/government relations lens to the elected official lens.”
She has worked as a lobbyist for women’s health and mental health associations. She has been the director of outreach for Virginia Congressman Jim Moran and Congressman Don Beyer. And, she’s the former chair of the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women. Jones is also an active member of her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.
This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference in our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.
Credit: Source link