At the age of 12, Felicia Jones — Madison’s new affirmative action manager — thought one day she would be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She envisioned herself in her power suit and big office, and in college she pursued a business degree.
After college, Jones went to work at the office of state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, where she realized she wanted to achieve more than becoming a CEO. There, she learned she wanted to enter a public service role.
Later, working in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise — a program designed to help businesses owned by people from marginalized backgrounds — she acquired hands-on experience learning more about discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Working with the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, Jones said she had the opportunity to talk with entrepreneurs and learn about the professional obstacles they faced. She also was able to see the contractor’s perspective in her role as senior contract specialist.
Now in her third week as Madison Department of Civil Rights’ affirmative action division manager, Jones is in charge of helping implement affirmative action programs in the city, and deals with issues such as discrimination complaints.
“With this new position, I get to bring these two perspectives of the small disadvantaged businesses and large contractors together,” Jones said. “And I get to use all of that experience and all of that passion and drive to do this job, and I love it.”
She is currently working on multiple projects, including making city services accessible in languages other than English. Her department also oversees discrimination training for Madison Fire Department, Madison Police Department and other city agencies every three years.
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Jones said her department also works with businesses to ensure they are keeping up with affirmative action plans, among other projects.
Jones said she aims to live up to the mission of her department and make outreach more effective. The department’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all people by promoting equality while preventing and eliminating discrimination.
“My specific goal is to make sure I can do my part to make the mission come to pass,” Jones said.
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When Jones is not at work, she spends most of her time working with the youth of the Madison Pentecostal Assembly. This assembly gathers at the Madison Pentecostal Church and other churches across the state.
Jones said a lot of her drive comes from her personal experiences with discrimination and her desire to provide equal opportunity for her son and other underrepresented people in Madison.
“When you are passionate about something, you will work a million times harder to make sure you will succeed at it, regardless about what everyone else says, because it is most fulfilling,” Jones said.