What does it mean to lead with integrity and wisdom?

2020 BOLD Thinker: Macy Jones

In early spring, NHSA named 14 individuals as 2020 BOLD Prize winners in recognition of their extraordinary leadership in response to the unique challenges they encountered in 2020… Over the course of this summer, NHSA is sharing insights from each BOLD Prize Winner about leading through unprecedented times and overcoming uncertainty and adversity to support both staff and the children and families Head Start serves.

Exemplifying ambitious and welcoming leadership, serving with integrity, and being grounded in faith make Macy Jones a 2020 BOLD Thinker.

Macy Jones is the Head Start Director at Alexander County Head Start in Taylorsville, North Carolina. Last year, Macy’s small North Carolina community was hit hard by COVID-19 cases, as families struggled with food insecurity and the economic impact of the pandemic. In addition, a local Black Lives Matter march divided the town and was countered by members of the KKK and other white supremacist protestors. With all of this happening around them, Macy knew that her program’s children, families, and employees would need strong and consistent social/emotional support. She hired a full-time licensed clinician to provide support for their children, families, and staff, held regular meetings to discuss topics like racial inequality, continued working towards hiring a third staff person for every classroom to better support children who have experienced trauma, and worked with partners like the North Carolina Emergency Management System to get families what they needed.

One lesson that Macy learned this year is that in times of crisis, leaders cannot fall apart. The multiple critical issues facing her Head Start community and the larger community pushed her to deliberately step up as a leader in new ways. Last year, Macy ran for County Commissioner, and while she did not win, the statement her candidacy as an ambitious Black woman made was in its own way a victory. As a leader, Macy believes that especially when confronting difficult challenges, you often have to stop thinking about something, and just do it. That’s what led to her run for office and also the bold leadership that supported her Head Start families and staff through such a turbulent year.

In her own words:

“I am a BOLD leader because I had the courage to run for County Commissioner knowing that I did not have a chance to win the election. I ran to make a statement… I am a BOLD leader because I am a person of integrity and wisdom. One without the other can be dangerous. I’ve learned that just because I can say or do something, doesn’t mean that I should. This is wisdom. I’ve learned that people listen to what I say, but they watch what I do. This is integrity. Looking ahead to 2021, I will lead by example. I will rely on my faith, wisdom, education, and life experiences to continue to guide and strengthen my children, staff, families, community, and to support the Head Start mission. I’ll keep learning, reading, and serving. I’ll continue to consult with stakeholders to make sure that our visions are aligned and accurate but yet flexible. I’ll continue to step up and speak up when it’s not popular… I will do so with grace, compassion, and a little bit of firmness and definitely sincerity.”

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Through all of 2020’s turbulence, Head Start leaders boldly faced the challenges and lived up to an unprecedented level of extraordinary leadership. The National Head Start Association’s 2020 BOLD was created to recognize, celebrate, and reward this bold leadership.

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National Head Start Association

National Head Start Association

NHSA is a nonprofit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in life.

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