Macy Jones, Bold and Decisive Leader in Times of Crisis

Macy Jones is the director at Alexander County Head Start in Taylorsville, North Carolina. In 2020, Macy’s small North Carolina community was hit hard by COVID-19 cases, as families struggled with food insecurity and the economic impact of the pandemic. In addition, a local Black Lives Matter march divided the town. With all of this happening around them, Macy knew that her program’s children, families, and employees would need strong and consistent social and emotional support.

She hired a full-time licensed clinician to provide support for their children, families, and staff, held regular meetings to discuss topics like racial inequality, continued working towards hiring a third staff person for every classroom to better support children who have experienced trauma, and worked with partners like the North Carolina Emergency Management System to get families what they needed.

One lesson that Macy learned is leaders cannot fall apart in times of crisis. The multiple critical issues facing her Head Start community and the larger community pushed her to deliberately step up as a leader in new ways. As a result, Macy ran for County Commissioner, and while she did not win, the statement her candidacy as an ambitious Black woman made was in its own way a victory.

As a leader, Macy Jones believes that especially when confronting difficult challenges, you often have to stop thinking about something and just do it.

In her own words:

“I am a person of integrity and wisdom. One without the other can be dangerous. I’ve learned that just because I can say or do something, doesn’t mean that I should. This is wisdom. I’ve learned that people listen to what I say, but they watch what I do. This is integrity. Looking ahead, I will lead by example. I will rely on my faith, wisdom, education, and life experiences to continue to guide and strengthen my children, staff, families, community, and to support the Head Start mission. I’ll keep learning, reading, and serving. I’ll continue to consult with stakeholders to make sure that our visions are aligned and accurate but yet flexible. I’ll continue to step up and speak up when it’s not popular. And I will do so with grace, compassion, a little bit of firmness, and definitely sincerity.”

Malkia Payton-Jackson

Malkia Payton-Jackson is NHSA’s first-ever director of alumni engagement. Back in Cambridge, Head Start is where she made her first best friend — and now, she’s inviting Head Start alumni to connect with one another, share their unique stories, and help keep Head Start strong for generations to come.

Related Content