For Holly Jones, public service and community involvement have always been part of her life. Growing up in Wadesboro, her father served in the state Senate and later on the county commission. Her mother taught in public schools for more than 25 years, a career her brother followed, too. Holly has always been guided by her faith and a commitment to give back to her community.
After graduating from high school in Asheboro, Holly went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a B.A. in Public Policy Analysis and a Masters in Public Health. A lifelong United Methodist, Holly also received her Master’s of Divinity from Duke University and served in the mission field for three years.
Holly began her stateside career as a public health educator in Durham County. After 3 years of working in Durham schools and neighborhoods, she took a position as Executive Director of the YWCA of Asheville. She found a crumbling building and an organization in decline. Under her guidance, she helped turn the YWCA around, spearheading a $4 million capital campaign. She increased the annual budget from $750,000 to $3 million and went from a staff of 55 to one of 120 employees. Today, Holly is Director of Member Services for the YWCA USA.
Helping women and families through the YWCA led Holly to seek elected office. In 2001, she ran for and won a seat on the Asheville City Council at a time when the city was transforming from sleepy mountain city to a bustling economic center. She served on the council, including two years as Vice-Mayor, until 2007. In 2008, Holly won a seat on the Buncombe County Commission helping the county weather the Great Recession better than many areas of the state.
In addition to her public achievements, Holly also found love and a family in Asheville. She met and married Bob Falls, founder of Poetry Alive!, a nationally known educational company. Their 13 year old daughter Gabriela is an 8th grader at Asheville Middle School. Holly and family live in a neighborhood north of downtown Asheville and are actively involved in the city they love.
Holly Jones is currently a Director of Member Services for the YWCA USA. She previously served as Executive Director of the YWCA of Asheville and as Director of the Southeast Region. She began her career as a public health educator in Durham.
- Increased YWCA Asheville’s annual budget from $750,000 to $3 million while delivering budget surplus for 15 years. Improved YWCA fiscal stability by diversifying revenue streams, improving fee generating potential, building a significant reserve fund and having no long-term liabilities
- Led $3.9 million capital fundraising campaign for YWCA Asheville and Increased YWCA contributions from $17,000 to $120,000 and corporate donations from $10,000 to $90,000
- Increased the YWCA staff from 55 to 120 and diversified program management - 50% of program directors being African-American or Latino
- Launched and grew a health and fitness center to 1,100 paying members while expanding programming in teen pregnancy prevention and health disparities
- Launched Asheville’s “YWCA Stand Against Racism” initiative in 2008, which has been a springboard for community dialogue and action annually
- Pioneered the greening of YW facility to model environmental and financial stewardship. Achievements include: installation of 30 solar panels for hot water heating, the utilization of biodiesel buses, development of a teaching garden for children, elimination of paper product use and recognition as the community leading advocate for women and people of color being included in our developing green economy
- Designed and initiated Buncombe County’s Americorps program, which works with six youth-serving agencies addressing underachieving youth in the local school systems
- Wrote Durham’s Community Health Diagnosis in 1994
- Served as project manager for a breast and cervical cancer program for low-income women
Holly has served in local government for 14 years, and currently serves on the Buncombe County Commission. She has been a driving force behind the growth of Asheville and Buncombe County, helping them weather the economic storm of the Great Recession better than most other parts of the state have. Asheville and Buncombe County have been among the state’s most successful governments.
- During her tenure on the county commission, Buncombe County has aggressively recruited good-paying jobs, particularly in advanced manufacturing. The results:
- 2,860 new jobs paying an average of $44,667 per year
- As of June 2015, Buncombe County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state
- $1 billion investment in Buncombe County’s tax base
- Buncombe County Schools provide among the top dozen highest teacher salary supplements in the state
- During Holly’s tenure on the county commission, Buncombe has built six new public schools, including the replacement of two inner-city schools that had been neglected for over 50 years
- Holly supported funding referendum for renovations, improvements, and new construction for Asheville-Buncombe Technical College (facilities costs = $129 million)
- Holly spearheaded Buncombe County’s effort to address domestic violence by engaging law enforcement, victim services providers, social service providers, and prosecutors in the development of a comprehensive plan to address violence against women. The plan’s implementation highlights evidence-based models, such as a Family Justice Center and lethality assessments, both proven to reduce homicides and to increase victim safety
- Funded a state-of-the-art Public Safety Training Facility for first responders and emergency personnel from across Western North Carolina..
Sustainability & Environment
- Adopted the Energy Independence Initiative, setting Buncombe County on a path to reduce carbon emissions annually by 2%, until an 80% reduction is achieved. These are the most ambitious goals set by any NC county
- Placed 3,676 acres in conservation easements to preserve viewshed and farmland, one of the most successful land conservation programs in the state
- Adopted one of the region’s strongest steep slope ordinances to protect and preserve ridgetops
- Initiated Asheville-Buncombe Flood Reduction Task Force, to proactively propose regional solutions to future flood risk
- Championed the adoption of domestic partner benefits for Buncombe County employees
- Thanks to Holly, Buncombe is one of only four NC counties to include sexual orientation and gender identity in its non-discrimination policy
- Reinstituted the Buncombe County Women’s Commission
Community Leadership and Recognition
Holly has served on numerous boards and councils, including:
- Smart Start of Buncombe County
- Buncombe County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council
- Transportation Advisory Committee of the French Broad Metropolitan Planning Organization (2001-2014)
- Land of Sky Regional Council (Treasurer 2008-2012)
- Asheville Housing and Community Development Committee Chair (2001-07)
- Buncombe County Board of Health (1997-2003)
In 2001, Holly received the Athena Award from Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of the William Friday Fellowship in Human Relations and Leadership Asheville XVI. Holly’s excellent managerial skills were recognized in 2007, when she received the Ken Roberson Award for Management Excellence in the Non-profit Health and Human Service field.
Holly received her B.A. in Public Policy Analysis and a Masters in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Masters of Divinity from Duke University. She did three years of mission work with the United Methodist church before returning to North Carolina to become a public health educator in Durham.
She is married to Bob Falls, with whom she has a daughter, Gabriela, who is an 8th grader at Asheville Middle School.
Last week, we experienced another horrifying shooting when a disturbed former news reporter shot two former co-workers in the midst of an on-camera interview and posted a video of the murders on Facebook. It comes in the wake of the Charleston shooting that shocked the nation and opened up a needed discussion about race. While states across the South began taking down Confederate flags and confronting their histories of race relations, few people seriously talked about the need to address the problem of guns and violence.Continue readingEarlier this week, I launched a petition to ask the North Carolina House of Representatives and Governor Pat McCrory to oppose the so-called Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, that was passed by the Senate and would be put on the ballot during the presidential primary in March. TABOR itself is a bad idea but the process of making it an amendment to the constitution is worse and putting it on a ballot during a low turnout primary is just plain wrong.Continue reading
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