Dr. Shelley Jones-Holt confronts racism, division, and discrimination head-on with open and respectful dialogue and education free of shame, blame or victimization. Shawn Fair has chosen her as one of the distinguished Start to Speak figures for The Leadership Experience Tour, the number one speaking platform for aspiring and seasoned speakers.
Dr. Shelley Jones-Holt is the CEO of Leadership Legacy Consulting and Family Legacy 5, two companies at the forefront of addressing the most crucial social issues of the present era. Leadership Legacy Consulting specializes in diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racist leadership training, facilitation, and support. Family Legacy 5, on the other hand, is a non-profit organization with a mission to eliminate the tragic school-to-prison and poverty pipeline by creating a trajectory for career and life success.
A series of awakenings motivated Dr. Shelley to lead the charge against racism and other systemic and structural oppression in the homes, schools, and other institutions. As a school district superintendent, Dr. Shelley Jones-Holt placed great value in her career and earning a living. However, this made the impression to her son that she prioritized her job over his well-being and the opinions of educators over the experiences of her own children. At the time, the adults in Dr. Shelley’s son’s school, which was in her district, were treating him so horribly that he even considered suicide. This experience caused Dr. Shelley to reassess her success as a career woman and a mother.
In addition to the domestic impacts, Dr. Shelley Jones-Holt was also labeled a racist by the mostly white teachers and administrators in a former ‘Sundown community’ for bringing attention to racial equity gaps in student achievement and discipline as well as financial discrepancies. Their perception of her, which was exacerbated by fear of knowledgeable leadership, made Dr. Shelley realize that many educators, leaders and people in general still have a lot to learn about the true nature of racism, its origins and its insidious effects.
With over 15 years in educational administration, Dr. Shelley has seen her fair share of racially motivated behaviors from students, parents, educators, administrators at every level. Shifting the mindset that causes and justifies this harmful behavior is at the core of Dr. Shelley’s masterful ability to facilitate interracial conversations about race. Dr. Shelley considered these events followed by a viral pandemic, global racial uprising and almost a year of home quarantine as an awakening of her true calling—guiding her family and others toward intentional anti-racism. Ensuring that the next generation is prepared for the challenges of their day and equipping them with the tools to become future leaders is the only job that should matter to any and every parent or guardian of children. Dr. Shelley believes that she and her husband “can either raise accidental racist or intentional anti-racists” and while their blended family is admittedly far from perfect our core values are unwavering. In her experience, the problem with addressing systemic oppression “usually isn’t desire, it is that people do not know how and need a safe space to be taught.”
Dr. Shelley Jones-Holt provides historically informed experiences for schools, government agencies, and other organizations. She assists various institutions in developing internal cultures that are racially proficient and equitable. Through her expertise as a racial and educational-impact anthropologist, Dr. Shelley relays her profound understanding of the identity, privilege and power dynamics that lead to racial tension and discriminatory practices.
Eliminating the systemic and structural effects of racism, one of which is the school-to-prison and poverty pipeline, is also at the top of Dr. Shelley’s priorities. Family Legacy 5 is creating pipelines for students to learn skilled trades, build network connections and gain an understanding of business, ultimately providing a community scaffolded transition to adulthood. She believes that everyone can develop knowledge, skills, and moral fortitude to promote healthy practices and build generational wealth as long as the opportunities and support are there. For youth that want to be nurtured by equity-driven leaders in explicitly anti-racist systems, Dr. Shelley Jones-Holt establishes these principles as the foundation of the upcoming Career and Life AcademyTM.
At the core of Dr. Shelley’s efforts to address systemic racism and the school-to-prison pipeline is the task of challenging beliefs and value systems. Even the most well-meaning people carry inherently oppressive biases. Throughout her career, Dr. Shelley has trained many educators and leaders who look back and recognize the false beliefs that they were exposed to in their upbringing. “If racism starts at home, anti-racism must start there too,” emphasized Dr. Shelley.
Dr. Shelley Jones-Holt earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. Not long after, she earned her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Hayward. Dr. Shelley’s post-graduate degrees include a Master of Arts in Urban Educational Leadership from California State University and a doctoral degree in Urban Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California. Dr. Shelley currently confronts social issues head-on as a keynote speaker, author, adjunct professor, and facilitator of adult professional learning.
For Dr. Shelley, anti-racist leadership is everyone’s responsibility. The journey toward this ideal requires courage; “it can be overwhelming for people to engage in the cause if they think they are alone.” Dr. Shelley has effectively created a community village where passionate individuals can work through these social issues together.