Valeisha Butterfield –Jones
Valeisha Butterfield-Jones is the National Youth Vote Director for the Obama for America campaign and the Co-founder and Chair of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Butterfield-Jones was recognized by ESSENCE Magazine as a top 40 executive under 40 years of age in 2010. She formerly served as the Executive Director of Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), as the National Director of Diversity for the Alzheimer’s Association and as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Butterfield – Jones is a recognized award-winning communications and political strategist with a specialization in youth mobilization. She has been featured on Black Entertainment Television, AOL’s Black Voices, Our World with Black Enterprise and other major news programs. Butterfield – Jones was born in Wilson, NC and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Clark Atlanta University. She is married to Dahntay Jones of the Indiana Pacers and is the daughter of U.S. Congressman G. K Butterfield and N.C. Legislator Jean Farmer Butterfield. Follow Butterfield – Jones on Twitter at @valeisha.
Getting to Know Valeisha Butterfield-Jones
1. What inspired you to pursue your current career path?
My hometown, Wilson, NC, is located in the 4th poorest Congressional district in the United States. Growing up, I attended public schools and had an opportunity to witness first-hand the impact the lack of effective political representation can have on our community, particularly young people. My parents are both elected officials, representing that district and from an early age I knew public service was my calling.
While working for a non-profit civic engagement organization, I had the honor of meeting Senator Obama. Soon after, I began volunteering for his campaign and never looked back. Working to re-elect our President has been a rewarding experience and I look forward to engaging young people this year.
2. What is the key to balancing your professional, philanthropic and social commitments?
For me, finding my passion was key. Earlier in my career, I tried to do it all and realized very quickly that it was impossible to be great at all things. For me, it’s about being strategic and only taking on projects that you feel completely passionate about. There is nothing professionally and socially more important to me right now than the re-election of President Obama and so it doesn’t feel like a job as much as it feels like a dream come true.
3. What is the biggest mistake young professionals make?
A lot of young professionals choose a career path based on financial reward and gain. My recommendation is that young professionals instead choose a career path of purpose. When we follow our dreams and enter careers we’re passionate about, the money may not always be there right away. Public service isn’t the most financially rewarding career, but the personal rewards are so much greater. My work on the campaign is the most fulfilling work I have ever done.
4. What advice would you give other young professionals who desire to excel in the nation’s capital? Specifically, for other young women of color?
Working in the nation’s capital gives young professionals, particularly young women of color, a front seat. Washington is a competitive, results driven town and you’re forced to either sink or swim professionally. During my time in Washington, I definitely sharpened my skills and it provided an opportunity for me to go back into my work of organizing young people to vote in a meaningful way.
5. What’s been the best experience of your career thus far (or the most rewarding)?
My work on the Obama Campaign is the most meaningful work of my career.
President Obama has a vision for a fairer economy which restores middle-class security where everyone plays by the same rules and hard work and responsibility pay. This is a vision that I believe in and it’s the vision this country needs moving forward. He’s done unprecedented work for African Americans and young people, and I’m proud to play a role in ensuring that he is re-elected for a second term to complete all that he set out to do.
6. What’s next for you in your career? What should we look out for?
Next up, I plan to focus on my organization, the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) full-time. We provide civic engagement, financial literacy and career advancement opportunities for young women ages 14 – 28. WEEN currently has more than 49,000 members and we plan to expand in the years ahead to empower and educate young women.
7. Lastly, give me three words to sum up Valeisha?
Purpose-driven, fearless and confident.