Amber Jones is bringing her passion for community and public service to her new role as community outreach coordinator for the Council of Minnesotans of African Heritage.
“This is our house, the capitol is our house,” said Jones. “I really want people to feel comfortable to come to our house and to make sure our issues are heard.”
Since starting her new position virtually in early April, Jones is closely monitoring information coming to the Council from the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. After collecting requests from the community and working through which issues are more urgent, Jones along with the Council will submit the information to state agencies and community partners.
“(COVID-19) is going to be an ongoing thing and our communities are not going to be bouncing back so easily when the economy gets started,” said Jones. “We are working on strategy and will be reaching out to our community partners very soon so that we can be in front of the line and not the back of the line as we continue to see how our government is shaping policies and funding to address this pandemic.”
As outreach coordinator, she wants to “utilize and leverage the Council’s connection to the governor, legislature and state agencies to directly ensure our communities are being served effectively and equitably.”
Before joining the Council, Jones worked as an inclusion and community engagement associate at the Minnesota Historical Society. During her time there she facilitated culturally-specific and multicultural teen programming to inspire diversity in the museum practitioner’s field. Jones also brings about 10 years of experience in community engagement and advocacy.
“Not only does she bring a high level of professionalism and a lens that is focused on racial equity and what is best for our people,” said the Council’s executive director, Justin Terrell. “People are really excited she is doing this work. That is a good sign from the community.”
Jones’ high school, college and professional careers have weaved in and out of different sectors and facets of community such as education, community organizing, nonprofits, and more. Within the past year or so she has noticed an underlying commonality in all of the work she has done.
“It's been really important to me to make sure people of African descent are readily represented and able to benefit from the work that I’m doing in the systems that I am working in or the organizations I am working for,” said Jones. “I’ve been able to notice the thread and coming into this position with that level of clarity is really essential because of the gravity of work and the responsibility.”
Jones looks forward to using her range of experience and coming to the Council with this type of clarity with a holistic approach.
“Now I am focusing on the social, economic and political advancement of people of African descent and heritage in our state,” she said. “It benefits me to have multiple lanes of exposure in my career overtime and continue to build on that because we are not just looking at a monolithic person of African descent. We are not looking at a one-issue person or a one-issue community because all issues affect our community. We are multidimensional people.”