Double trustee: Julie Annette Jones
The title trustee derives from the word trust. It is one of the University’s few positions that does not have a business-like title. The state, the students, and an array of other stakeholders expect trustees to steer the University and make decisions in everyone’s best interest. Being a trustee is a heavy responsibility that impacts everyone in the state whether they are affiliated with Illinois State or an external constituent. Julie Annette Jones ’90 never imagined herself as a trustee, but anyone who knows her or her commitment to Illinois State understands how she is a person to trust to continue to make the University great.
“People think that in order to get a position such as this you have to do something extraordinary or know someone of influence who puts in a good word for you or that you have some sort of connections. None of that is true in my case. If you do things for the right reason, people will notice your work. I never imagined in a million years I would be a trustee. My friends jokingly call me double trustee,” Jones said.
The reason her friends call her double trustee is because Jones is also a trustee of St. John Missionary Baptist Church on the far South Side of Chicago. In addition to being a double trustee, she is also a member of the Illinois State University Alumni Association board of directors, Black Colleagues Association (BCA), Illinois State’s Attorneys Advisory Board, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the National Council of Negro Women-Chicago Central Section serving as president, and the Gospel Kitchen Inc. serving as secretary. Professionally, she serves as principal attorney at the Julie Annette Jones P.C. firm in Chicago. Despite her impressive service record, Jones will be the first to tell others to invest in what they love.
“When people think about me they think about the all the organizations I’m involved in. I’m involved for real to make an impact. Just be sincere and have a real commitment. I’ve spent time and money at ISU supporting what I love. All of those things I did for no reward, I did it because I love the University,” said Jones.
She was not always connected to Illinois State in this way. After completing a dual degree in political science and psychology at Illinois State, she moved to Atlanta for law school, and when she returned home to Chicago, she didn’t have strong connections to the University. Jones did not get involved until she ran into former BCA president Janessa Williams in a Calumet City Target store.
“Janessa was the face of ISU’s black alums for many of us. I didn’t know her personally. She asked me if I had attended ISU and if I wanted to come to a black alumni board meeting,” Jones said. “I became membership chair, and I began to work to make sure people knew about BCA because I knew they would join if they did. It was one person that took time to reach out who brought me back, and that is true for many alumni.”
Ever since Williams reintroduced Jones to Illinois State, it has been a central institution in her life, and she is happy to give back. “ISU changed my life. Ninety percent of my friends are Redbirds and 70 percent of the activities I’m involved in are related to ISU. I have to give back to other people. When I started my own firm a lot of my first clients were ISU alumni. So many people have deposited in me over the years, and they are still depositing in me.”
As a member of the Board of Trustees, Jones hopes to continue to advocate for students who may not be able to always advocate for themselves. Amid the 20th month of a budget stalemate in the Illinois House of Representative, her mind is focused on the student experience.
When discussing the budget, Jones said, “The budget looms over everything. I want to make sure we keep the students first whether we get state appropriations or not. My first thought when decision-making as a trustee is how is this going to impact the students.”
As a first generation college student from the far South Side of Chicago, Jones is in disbelief about what she has been able to achieve.
“I’m living in a ‘pinch me’ moment. I’m just a little girl from Roseland who is constantly in awe at how far God has brought me. It is incredibly humbling and it makes me want to do more. I am constantly thinking that I have been so blessed. Is there any other opportunity for me to give back? What else can I give?”