Julie Jones is a volunteer, advocate, and experienced leader with a heart for service. These days, she spends her career in the service of those with developmental disabilities at Abilities First. As Assistant Executive Director, Julie spearheads a new position that is bringing community awareness to the organization. She proudly described the depth of services Abilities First provides, including monetary support, case management, and inclusive employment and arts opportunities.
A Springfield native, Julie spends her free time boating at Table Rock Lake, hiking the Ozark trails, and enjoying nature. She thinks Springfield has the perfect combination of attributes – great size, things to do, and ways to enjoy the natural environment. Her vision for Springfield is to continue making progress toward greater diversity and inclusion, especially as it pertains to abilities. She would love to see more employment of people with developmental disabilities.
Julie is not just a Signature Class 6 Leadership Springfield Alumni Member – she has also served on the Leadership Springfield board (2013-2018) and volunteered as an Academy Class Advisor, which brought her the most personal satisfaction. She remembers how impressed she was with the youth in our community remarking, “The world is in great hands.”
Despite all her achievements, Julie’s proudest accomplishment is being a four-year breast cancer survivor. She credits that experience with a shift in outlook, giving her greater perspective on work/life balance and making family a top priority. She also feels that being a survivor has given her a hunger to go out and serve the community in a more hands-on way.
So what is ahead for Julie Jones? Julie was excited to share about the upcoming Silver Strands Celebration in March, where Abilities First will honor Dr. Missy Lucas for the difference she has made in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. She also encourages everyone to participate in the Abilities First summer biking event, “Ride On,” that will be held at Lake Springfield Boathouse. Proceeds benefit the many programs offered at Abilities First.
When asked what leadership wisdom she would impart, Julie pointed out the importance of mentors. She feels blessed by the mentors in her own life, like John Rush, former President and CEO of the United Way of the Ozarks, and Jim Anderson, former President of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. She urges all up-and-coming leaders to find a good mentor. Julie also pointed out the importance of getting involved. Whether it is on a board of directors or a hands-on volunteering role, she believes all leaders should go out into the community and get plugged in. She explains that it’s not just who you know or what you know, it is both. “Find a mentor, get involved, lead!”