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avatar for Christopher Jones

Christopher Jones

ioby.org
Memphis Action Strategist
“In my heart, I’m kind of a small town, community guy,” Chris says. While he’s called Memphis home since he moved there in 1994, Chris grew up in Starkville, Mississippi, which he calls a very close-knit community.
“If you live in a big city, you can be snarky or cutting or dismissive to someone and you may well never see them again,” he says. “But it doesn’t work that way in a small town; you can’t just isolate yourself in your little clique. You’re going to run into everyone and their family members at the grocery store, in a parking lot, and at church—and people remember things for decades!” Chris says this frame of mind also influences how neighbors in close proximity are apt to take care of each other. When you are familiar with everyone in your community, he says, you know when one of them is hurting. “And then you know that you and your neighbors should help that person—not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because you understand that your time of need will come.”
When Chris left Starkville to attend Talladega College—Alabama’s oldest private historically black college, founded in 1867—he saw concern for community expressed in a different way: by administrators and other academic professionals who weren’t just concerned with doing well in their careers, but who also wanted their work to have a positive impact on the people and places around them. “That really stuck with me,” he says. Then, as a law student and then as an attorney in Memphis, he saw how lawyers were using their skills to further social justice causes, like stopping unwarranted police searches, representing indigent individuals, and voiding oppressive contracts. “Those experiences left the impression on me that it’s not enough just to do well in life,” Chris says. “One must also try to do good.”
While forging a career as an employment lawyer with a Fortune 500 company, Chris cast a wide net of community involvements, including board service with local organizations like The UrbanArt Commission and managing a grassroots congressional campaign. Then he got to a point in his legal career where he wanted to expand his perspective and skill set—particularly his leadership and leadership development skills. “I wanted to become a more well-rounded professional,” he says. “ioby gave me the chance to do just that while improving Memphis’s neighborhoods, and remaining involved in the same ways I was before. It was a natural fit.”