Get to know Kim Y. Jones

OCU is proud to welcome our new Executive Director, Kim Y. Jones. 

As an opportunity to help staff and our community better get to know our new Executive Director, our Development Director, Brittany Nixon, took all the crowd-sourced questions from staff and sat down with her to get her take on things like life, work and family. It was a lot of fun, and a bit surprising, to hear some of her answers. 

To learn more about Kim, read on…

What makes you most proud as a DC native?

I would say the thing that makes me the proudest is how intentional DC is about trying to care for people. People come here because, you know, we care for our residents. We put social systems in place to ensure they’re covered, and I think so many people take it for granted. You only have to go someplace else to understand how much this city is really trying to be responsive to human needs.

What college did you go to?

I went to Northeastern University for my undergrad. I went to American University for part of my graduate education. I was a Ph.D. student in the sociology department. And then, I left there to go to law school. And so I went to the DC School of Law, which is now UDC.

What is your favorite music album? 

It depends on the day, right? Alright, I don’t have a favorite ‘cause I have a very eclectic taste in music, so I listen to some of everything. The better question might be, what’s on my playlist? But if I have to pick an album for today, I would say it’s Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.

One of my favorite songs I’m feeling right now is a song by Stevie Wonder called “Stay Gold.” It’s a really pretty song. It’s a song about young people staying young—don’t rush to grow up. I think that’s a common theme you’ll find with me. The preservation of childhood is so valuable. It’s the foundation for everything!

Who is your favorite musical artist? 

I don’t know that I have a favorite artist. I like tortured souls, so Billie Holiday would probably be one of my favorites. And Dinah Washington, I love her music. She’s gritty, yea. And Missy Elliott! You know we can’t forget the queen Missy. I don’t have one artist ‘cause I like a lot of people.

If you could see any concert of any musician, dead or alive, who would you go see?

John Lennon.

What is your favorite food?

That’s really difficult for me. If I were on a desert island, somebody said, ‘Kim, this is your last meal; what is it gonna be?’ It would probably be olives, tomatoes, pickles, hummus, and some kind of lamb or something.

What is your favorite restaurant in DC?

I don’t have any favorites. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite, it would be McDonald’s! I love their cheeseburger and fries. Restaurants come and go, but McDonald’s is here forever.

Who is your favorite superhero? 

That’s so funny, ‘cause I don’t believe in superheroes, so I would have to say it’s my grandmother.

Your favorite adult drink?

Well, that has evolved. Now, it’s whiskey and lemonade. Crushed ice. It’s a little sweeter than whisky sour, but you still get the bitterness with the lemonade. Yea, it’s really good. 

What is something you love even though the rest of the public seems to think is trash?

The First 48. And McDonald’s!

What is your biggest irrational fear?

Mice! Well, in a lot of ways, it is irrational because they are more scared of us than we are of them. But I just can’t… I can’t have something like that roaming around my life.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Number one, I want to go to Ghana. I want to go to Senegal. And then I want to go to Switzerland to visit one of my friends from college who is an expatriate.

What book would you recommend that all staff read?

Something on cultural diversity… I went back to pull my book out; it’s called, Cultural Diversity in Organizations.

What is a thing you do weekly that brings you the most joy?

Cooking breakfast for my daughter every day. I’m like, “you can say that your mama cooked breakfast for you every day of your life!”

Do you have a hobby outside of work that helps you be a better person?

So, I have gotten much more involved in my church… well, my congregation. But, you know, I’m baptist, so we call it church. I think that one of the things that I appreciate about my church is that it is grounded in social justice, equity, and inclusion. And we are reminded every day, not about, you know, a form of faith, but about our common values and humanity and the work we do and how we show up in the world. And I think it helps to keep me honest and contemplative about my decisions and how I make them. It also helps me see and assess compassion for people who may need additional support.

How do you self-care?

Well, I’ve not been very good at that, admittedly so. I enjoy working, so I’m a bit of a workaholic. But there are times when I do need self-care. I usually take a nap when I need to, or I will veg out, doing something like watching TV or maybe doing a new project. Over the summer, I started doing puzzles to relieve my tension. And you would be so surprised at how focused you can be if you have to do a 1000-piece puzzle. My daughter said, ‘Maybe you should have started off at 250.’ I was like, ‘Yea, I know, huh?’ It took me a week! It was like a lot.

What practices for employee wellness do you believe in or hope to implement one day at OCU? 

You know this is tough work. I think you have to prioritize self-care in a way that best suits you and communicate with your supervisor when you need to take that. In terms of systems, I think that having leave policies and the ability and flexibility to allow people to do remote work where necessary is important. Having things like the retreat that we had, you know, breaks up the monotony and allows us to enjoy one another but also relax in a lot of ways, right? I can’t tell you how to relax, because you know you. So, you know, giving people the ability to say, ‘you know what? I need to be able to stand up when I’m working,’ right? Or ‘I need to be able to take frequent breaks or to meditate.’ And giving people flexibility in a work environment is important to be able to do that.

What information would you find helpful to allow you to make decisions about the next steps for OCU?

I think what’s helpful is thinking about how we show up in the ways we’re living our vision and values, right? And for us to keep reminding each other of them. And for you all to show me, through your actions, how we live those values and that vision. Yea, I think that is what’s most helpful, to show me how we show integrity and in what ways and things like that.

How will you prioritize the tasks and projects you work on first?

First, I like to get a sense of the organization’s operations. I think that’s important because if the operations aren’t tight, program people can’t do their work like they need to. So, I always want to look at operations to ensure there’s nothing impeding our ability to deliver services. And then, I look at what is needed to operationalize the work we say we do. And I like to prioritize that based on what we say we do versus how we say we do it. I want to look at how we commit our resources to support our programs and, from there, decide how we deliver those programs and whether or not we are managing those programs with fidelity.

How will you assess employee satisfaction?

That’s one of the things that is very difficult as you grow as an organization. Satisfaction is going to depend on what people’s roles are. I think for me, it’s important for people to self-evaluate first and benchmark for themselves to see whether or not they have achieved some increased satisfaction in the workplace. Then, use that as an instrument to determine what additional support the staff members need. I think for me what’s important is for us to be able to recognize people’s talents but also be able to support and accommodate whatever their particular needs are. Especially where we may need more training or support for staff members.

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