Beverly Jones stands at podium while giving a lecture.

“Campus feminist” creates long legacy at OHIO with work in advocacy

Samantha Miller
September 15, 2016

When Beverly Jones, BSJ ’69 MBA ’75, began her college career at Ohio University years ago she didn’t realize the impact and legacy she would leave at her alma mater. Jones consistently broke down barriers and blazed her own trail, allowing women behind her to follow for decades.

As an undergraduate, it occurred to Jones that the inequality between men and women was prevalent in every aspect of Ohio University’s campus. From the dress code women had to abide by to the pay of female custodial workers, she saw the unfair treatment based on gender everywhere. These were the days before Title IX — federal legislation that eliminated discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions — so Jones used her communications skills to raise awareness of the clear inequality. Using her connections at The Post, and giving speeches around campus, Jones became the “campus feminist,” talking about the obvious need for women to have the same rights as men.

This wasn’t the only way she pushed the envelope. Jones became the first woman to be admitted into Ohio University’s master of business administration (MBA) program in 1970. This was never her goal, it just came to her from Harry Evarts, the dean of the College of Business.

“One day he told me it was time to put my money where my mouth was, saying it was fine that I was going around talking and giving speeches about women’s issues, but if I really wanted to make a difference in life then I needed tools. Harry told me I could get those tools from the College of Business,” Jones said.

Evarts informed her that the College of Business had never enrolled a woman in the MBA program, but it was about time they did. Not only did they want to admit a woman, he wanted her to be the first. He hired Jones as his graduate assistant, but also warned her that it was not going to be easy being the first — and it wasn’t.

"My male classmates didn't hesitate to tell me that I was taking the spot that should belong to a man who would have to support a family," Jones said, "and the faculty wasn't much better."

When the University closed in 1970 due to riots, Jones took a position with WOUB, which led to more opportunities to publicly air her views on. Her work toward equality caught the eye of Ohio University’s then-President Claude Sowle, who asked Jones to write about women on campus. “The Status of Women at Ohio University,” published in April 1972, was the first report to look at how women on campus were being treated compared to their male peers and offered a bold list of recommendations. President Sowle accepted Jones’ report, along with most of the recommendations. Soon after, in June 1972, when Congress passed Title IX, President Sowle hired Jones as assistant to the president. With this position, she was able to implement changes throughout the University related to Affirmative Action and to bridge the gaps she had been working on since her undergraduate career.

“I was in my twenties and knew nothing about management, leadership or how people grow, but my job and my passion was to help move people – women, people of color and anyone who might be marginalized – into leadership tracks. I put everything I could into doing that,” Jones said.

Even though she was working on Affirmative Action efforts for the University, Jones was still able to continue her MBA part-time and graduated from the program in 1975. Jones went on to law school at Georgetown University and became a Washington lawyer and Fortune 500 energy executive. Although her career led to amazing opportunities, her true passion was always to help people move up by getting them engaged in their careers, lead others and maximize on their opportunities.

In 2002, Jones launched an executive coaching and consulting practice, Clearways Consulting, where she leads retreats and mentors professionals of all ages to advance their careers, shift directions or boost their productivity. Based in Washington D.C., she works with accomplished leaders in Congress, major federal agencies, NGOs, universities and large corporations to develop their abilities. Recently she took the advice she’s been giving clients for years and wrote the book, “Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO: 50 Indispensable Tips to Help You Stay Afloat, Bounce Back, and Get Ahead at Work” to help people learn practical ways to handle workplace challenges.

“For all these years, the thing I think I’m best at, that I care the most about, is helping groups to function more effectively and help people grow and reach their potential,” Jones said. “My goal is that this book will help people transform their current ways and see how much more they can accomplish.”

Aside from running her own firm, she also serves as a Visiting Fellow and Strategic Coach for the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, advising students and staff on leadership development.

“Beverly Jones has played and continues to play a large role in the development and ongoing success of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University,” Mark Weinberg, founding dean of the Voinovich School, said. “As a Senior Fellow, she is a valued adviser, coach and mentor; recruits talent to the School; develops program, marketing and branding strategy for the School; and works with many of our faculty, professionals, students and partners as a team and one-on-one basis.”

Jones’ career has always been fueled by the desire to assist others and to better her communities. From her work on Ohio University’s campus to advising executives and institutions, she has used her leadership abilities to push those around her while also learning from their styles.

“I never stop recognizing that every single person I come across could have an impact on my life, no matter how humble their role is now,” Jones said. “I believe this is true of everyone and people should be conscious of the relationships they make.”

To learn more about Beverly Jones and her book “Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO,” visit Clearway Consulting, LLC.