2009 Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award
Harry L. Jones Sr. ’72
Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, when survivors arrived in Charlotte’s Tyvola Coliseum disoriented and in desperate need, Harry Jones was there to help them. His quiet compassion and his commitment of many, many hours outside the limelight to connect them those citizens with services were characteristic of his leadership. As MecklenburgCounty manager and as a board member with numerous civic organizations, Jones is both a dedicated public servant and an extraordinary community leader.
In his role as county manager, Harry handles budgetary and day-to-day operations and tackles a series of sensitive and controversial issues with a high level of integrity. He brings to the task strong personal qualities that were evident at a very early age.
In 1969, then-Governor Robert Scott tapped him first as a student member of the N.C. Conference for Social Services and later as a state delegate to the White House Conference on Children and Youth. At Carolina, Harry was inducted into several honorary societies, including the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Order of the Grail and the Society of Janus.
He has used his UNC training — a bachelor’s degree in political science earned in 1972 and a master’s in public administration from 1974 — in a long and varied public service career in Fayetteville, Dallas and Charlotte. Along the way, he has found time to serve in leadership roles in organizations that advance his profession, including two terms as president of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. He also has been elected a fellow to The National Academy of Public Administration, an independent, non-partisan organization that helps federal, state and local governments improve their effectiveness, efficiency and accountability.
In his Charlotte community, Harry has brought his talents to numerous civic organizations. He chaired the Mecklenburg County United Way campaign so effectively that it surpassed its fundraising goal. He has served on the board of the Urban League of Central Carolinas, the Metro-YMCA of Greater Charlotte, the Wachovia Championship, Champions for Education Inc., and in an ex-officio capacity on the boards of United Way of Central Carolinas and the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
Currently, he serves on the board of directors of the Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation, which seeks to improve the quality of life for women, children, the elderly and the poor. In 2006, UNC’s Board of Trustees asked him to become a member of the University’s Board of Visitors. He and his wife, Becky, also have participated in the Black Alumni Reunion and hosted social activities for alumni at their home in Charlotte.
Harry is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Urban League’s Whitney M. Young Jr. Award, the Pride Magazine Public Service Award, the N.C. Association of County Commissioners Outstanding County Program Award, the Morehouse Alumni Association Community Service “Beacon of Light” Award, and the 2001 Charlotte Post “People of Prominence” Award.
He is a true visionary, a respected government official and civic and community leader, and the living embodiment of the concept of giving back.