DC-area Vote Lead Impact founder wants more Black representation in politics

Involving blacks in politics has been Krista Nicole Jones’ mission for more than 15 years.

Vote Lead Impact, Krista Nicole Jones, Founder and President

Voting rights will be front and center this week in Washington, while one local organization works to make sure people in Virginia have a diverse pool of candidates to choose from.

Involving blacks in politics has been Krista Nicole Jones’ mission for more than 15 years. While she was working on her master’s degree at George Washington University in 2006, she wrote her thesis paper on the shortage of black congressmen in Virginia.

Then she founded an organization dedicated to increasing the number of blacks running for office. Jones says the Vote Lead Impact has trained people in fundraising and media relations and provides guidance for people interested in entering politics while encouraging people to get involved in the community.

Although she knows candidates who have won races without much financial support, she says one of the main obstacles is that she sees fundraising.

Of some candidates, she says, “they simply did not build relationships, not necessarily on the ground in the community, but within the political community.”

Jones says Vote Lead Impact has offered scholarships through leadership development programs to people who want to build those relationships and advance their leadership knowledge and skills.

She says they have also honored black leaders in sponsored programs that provide opportunities to connect with political aspirants and give them the opportunity to meet with leaders who are already involved in politics.

The Florida native moved to the Washington area after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in political science. She lived in Washington for about a year before deciding to join the Peace Foundation.

Jones spent two years in Paraguay, South America as a volunteer, which she described as “one of the most significant learning experiences of my life.”

She says, “People were staring at me, making fun of me, and saying things about my hair.”

It was 2000. At the time, she thought she was suffering from racism, but over time, she said she realized, “it was ignorance.”

She says people have been greatly influenced by the stereotypes they saw of African Americans in TV series and sitcoms on American TV shows that were broadcast in Paraguay. Jones worked to build democracy in primary schools near the capital, Paraguay.

She also founded two organizations while there, one focused on minority Peace volunteers, and the other focused on the general volunteer population. These organizations were a precursor to the work to be done when she returned to the states to strengthen the power of advocacy.

Jones says, after years of working in business, she is able to see things from multiple lenses, “from the lens of the lobby/government relations to the official elected lens.”

She worked as a lobbyist for the Women’s Health and Mental Health Associations. She was the outreach director for Virginia Congressman Jim Moran and Congressman Don Baer. She is the past chair of the Arlington Commission on the Status of Women. Jones is also an active member of her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

This is part of WTOP’s ongoing coverage of people making a difference in our community written by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

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