Get to Know the 24%: Senator Shannon Jones
Senator Shannon Jones entered into a profession in politics the way a lot of young people do: by volunteering. As a young woman she was interested in public policy, but she never thought that interest would lead her to a career at the Ohio State Legislature. Now, after serving two successful terms in the House and one in the Senate, Senator Jones is entering her final term as a State Senator.
With the time she has left in office, Senator Jones has committed herself to issues about which she is passionate: “During these last few years I have made an effort to push for the awareness of Ohio’s abysmal infant mortality rate,” she remarks, identifying her current mission. In Ohio there are over 1,000 deaths per live births. But infant mortality is only one byproduct of an even larger problem which stems from inadequate access to healthcare for women and children, primarily in communities with large populations of people of color. “We have to be vigilant to raise awareness to the significant racial disparity in birth outcomes. We need to be conscious and focused on these health issues because they cannot be separated from the primary issue of infant mortality.” In her attempts to find legislative solutions to address infant mortality, Senator Jones has found that increasing opportunities for family education at birthing hospitals prior to discharge, as well as screening families for safe sleeping environments for infants, makes a significant impact. A lot of this work is done in collaboration with a committee centered on lowering Ohio’s infant mortality rating.
As she describes her commitment to her current mission, Senator Jones explains the larger process of her role as a State Senator. She admits that passing legislation on some issues isn’t easy, and sometimes defeat is inevitable; however, she doesn’t discredit that work because in the long run, more has been done to make people cognizant of issues within the community. “As legislators, we are only one piece of the pie. We rely on our partners to tackle a problem in a comprehensive and collective way, and we use our position to raise awareness to the broader public and our stakeholders.” She encourages people to get involved and fight for issues that are important to them. She says, “Sometimes legislative work is filled with a lot of disappointments, but you have to own them to revel in the success. You have to be able to take the flak. It is a privilege to serve the people of the state of Ohio. From the successful days to the unsuccessful days, it truly is the greatest profession.”
About the Author
Farnaz Alimehri joined Women In Government as a Graduate Policy Fellow in June 2015 after successfully completing the Future Women In Government Program at the Western Regional Conference in May 2015. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Minors in French and Spanish from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. In the past, Farnaz worked as a Legislative Intern at the Colorado State Capitol, and as the General Manager of KRCX, Regis University Radio. Farnaz is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Security Studies at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service with the intent on graduating in May 2017.
About Future WIG
Women In Government supports women of all ages in leadership roles, and is working hard to ensure that young women are given the resources and mentorship they need in order to achieve their goals. This program takes place at WIG Regional conferences, where WIG asks women state legislators and leaders in the private sector to encourage young women across the country to pursue leadership roles. This program is made possible by Southwest Airlines.