Rene Jones ‘92
This lifelong philanthropist helps Hollywood stars give back.
By Omar Shamout
Rene Jones ’92 has never been shy about getting involved.
As the global head of philanthropy for the powerhouse United Talent Agency, or UTA, in Beverly Hills, Jones knows all about the importance of making a difference on the corporate level. As the founding director of the UTA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the international media, talent, and literary agency, Jones has guided the company’s charitable and volunteer opportunities since 2004. She also provides strategic philanthropic guidance for clients, executives, and corporate clients. As recognition of her hard work and the importance of her efforts, Jones was promoted to partner last year.
Jones’ desire to make a mark on her community and the world at large was fostered at UCR, where the San Jose native said the school made it easy for students to do more than just go to class.
“There were a lot of opportunities to get involved, and I have always been the one to get involved in activities,” said Jones, who studied business.
One of her most formative experiences was a UC American History exchange program with the College of William and Mary, which exposed her to Washington, D.C.
“It opened my eyes to wanting to get more involved in government,” Jones said.
That interest blossomed further after graduation through an internship in the Washington office of former Sen. Barbara Boxer, and later as an assistant to the senator’s chief of staff. Jones went on to become a finance director and consultant for many high-profile political campaigns.
“I found it to be just amazing to be among people my own age who had this similar passion of wanting to make a difference,” Jones said of her experience in politics.
After fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to New York, Jones worked as development director for several nonprofit organizations. Though she always figured she’d wind up back in the Bay Area, Jones ventured to Los Angeles, where she quickly reignited her philanthropic pursuits by launching the UTA Foundation.
Jones”We were still a young company at the time, so it was forward thinking of them to take on a division like this,” Jones said.
Some of the organization’s many programs include a global volunteer day, in which all employees at UTA’s six offices — from the CEO to the mailroom staff — take a day away from work to commit to causes important to them.
Jones and UTA have also maintained a 14-year partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, in which agents mentor a select group of juniors from University High School in Los Angeles, many of whom go on to become first-generation college students. In addition to workplace shadowing, resume building, and mock job interviews, UTA staff help prepare the students for the academic, personal, and financial rigors of college. One former mentee came back to UTA as a summer intern and was hired as an agent trainee. She now works in the company’s licensing and endorsement division as an agent.
When Jones isn’t spearheading UTA’s own philanthropic endeavors, she works closely with the agency’s clients to make sure their own efforts are realized in the most effective way. UTA represents such high-profile talent as Angelina Jolie and Seth Rogen.
In this capacity, she has had the opportunity to travel abroad — an aspect of the job she loves.
Recent trips include a visit to Malawi with a client to help bolster the nation’s mobile HIV and malaria testing clinics, and a journey with a young actress to a refugee camp on the Syria-Jordan border.
She has also traveled with clients and nongovernmental organizations around the globe to bring awareness to global causes such as clean water, girls’ education, affordable housing, microfinancing, and women’s empowerment.
“It’s an amazing privilege to see firsthand the incredible work happening around the world and in our own backyards to create sustainable change,” Jones said. “Clients look to me for guidance on the most pressing issues of our time, so it’s important to be able to talk about the work from a place of experience.”