Tell us about yourself.
I am native to the region, growing up in Mt. Lebanon, PA. I also spent a fair amount of my childhood in Monessen, PA, my mom’s hometown and where my maternal grandparents lived. For undergrad, I attended my Dad’s alma mater, The Pennsylvania State University, graduating with Honors with a B.A. in Crime, Law and Justice. I then attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. During law school, I was a summer associate at Tucker Arensberg, P.C. and then started my career with the Firm upon graduation, where I found my passion as a finance attorney. From there, I transitioned to in-house counsel at PNC Bank. Two of my other most important roles today, however, are as wife to my husband, Ron Jones, also an attorney, and mother to our two children, ages 1 and 3.
What do you find inspirational about Black History Month?
I love that Black History Month often allows for under-recognized black figures to be highlighted and celebrated, even within our own community. During the month, I usually learn about individuals that I have never heard about before, but that deserve to be recognized and celebrated for their contributions. My hope is that we continue to do more to highlight such remarkable individuals more than just one month out of the year.
Who is your Black hero or role model and why?
My husband and I both come from incredibly close-knit families. I am inspired by our parents and the generations before them. I remember some of my favorite moments just sitting in the kitchen with my grandfather and hearing about his life, the times he grew up in, and what he endured and overcame. We are who we are because they endured and persevered through some of the most difficult times in our history and paved the way for us and our children. They are my everyday heroes and give me such drive to work hard to pave an even better way for my children.
What advice would you give to a young African American lawyer just starting out in their career?
Be self-aware, and willing to push yourself while understanding who you are. As an introvert, I tended to struggle early on in my career with relationship building and networking, especially as an African American attorney. I received the advice to start attending more events that centered around a topic of interest to feel more at ease even while outside of my comfort zone. I took that to heart and became much more intentional about networking opportunities, organic relationship building, board involvement, etc., and it really led me to a more fulfilling place in my career, my relationships, and my community involvement.
What advice would you give legal employers about what they can do to make workplaces welcoming and supportive for Black lawyers?
Create a culture and leadership that focuses on getting to know each individual attorney. The partners and managers who have influenced my life and career the most have grown to genuinely know me as a person. An inclusive legal culture must start with a concerted effort to learn about people regardless of their ethnicity and background – getting to know their families, goals, and aspirations. You cannot truly include someone if you don’t take the time to know who they are.