Tishaura Jones is treasurer for the city of St. Louis. She is part of the growing group of Black millennial leaders that are actively involved in the future of urban communities. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Hampton University and a master’s degree in health administration from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health. As a former VP of public finance for an investment bank and educator, her background and experience give her a unique perspective on urban economic issues. Treasurer Jones attended the recent Hope Global Forum 2016 in Atlanta. Rolling out talked exclusively with Jones about St. Louis, Michael Brown, financial literacy, and the importance of a viable path out of poverty for blighted communities.
What inspired you to run for office?
My father was a former comptroller for the city. I saw his work and it inspired me to run for the Missouri State Legislature. I served as committeewoman of the 8th Ward in the City of St. Louis and two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives.
What has changed in St. Louis since the death of Michael Brown? What has been the financial impact to the St. Louis area?
Overall, the tourism and convention impact has been minimal. But there has been a stronger look at racial and equality issues since the death of Michael Brown.
A disproportionate number of residents in the St. Louis area have been levied high fines and fees over minor traffic violations. This seems to be a growing problem in urban communities of color. What are your feelings on this situation and how can this change?
This is a problem that has been identified statistically. There is a yearly report generated that gives the demographic data for minor traffic violations. This report goes to the governor’s office. Senate Bill 05 is a step in the right direction; this state bill limits the amount of revenue a city generates from traffic offenses to 12 percent. But there is still much more work to be done.
What has been your takeaway from the Global Hope Forum 2016?
This is great sharing platform that brings leaders together from across the world. It shows that there is a path to financial literacy that can create effective change in blighted urban areas. In St. Louis we have engaged the Chief Investment Officer’s of banks to engage the community more and to increase economic investment. We also must begin to hold individuals and corporate entities accountable for their role in urban blight. We must bring help to the financially vulnerable, credit wise, to bring low income citizens out of poverty.
You’re a member of Delta Sigma Theta. What ideal of your sorority do you practice in your role as a public official?
Social action; this is at the heart of Delta Sigma Theta. Our first social action program was about giving women the right to vote. The spirit of the 22 founders inspires me to be cognizant of what I can do to make my community better.