2022 Woman of the Year: Dr. Mautra Staley Jones - 405 Magazine

2022 Woman of the Year: Dr. Mautra Staley Jones

She’s having a moment, exuding excellence and gaining national attention for our state — and she’s doing it all her way.

Photo by Shevaun Williams

She’s having a moment, exuding excellence and gaining national attention for our state — and she’s doing it all her way. The last few years have been a whirlwind for Dr. Mautra Stanley Jones. Earlier this year she was appointed president of Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC), making her the first woman and first woman of color to lead the institution. She joins just 5% of women of color at the helm of higher education institutions in the U.S.

This comes fresh off the heels of being named the 86th National Mother of the Year by American Mothers, Inc. Jones has three school-aged children: two sons and a daughter.

This lifelong education advocate and civic leader proudly boasts that she is “Sooner born and Sooner bred,” and will continue to elevate Oklahoma along her life’s journey.

Under her leadership as president, OCCC has forgiven nearly $4 million in student debt for its Fresh Start Initiative (which impacts more than 4,500 OCCC students) and awarded $1.8 million to help first generation college students, and was named one of MovieMaker’s 40 Best Film Schools of 2022 — the only Oklahoma school to make the list.

When discussing her life and recent accolades, Jones credits education and a giving mindset, something she learned from her grandmother while growing up in Ardmore. “She taught me so many principles [and] values and morals and set the stage for what my life’s work would be — because despite the things I went through as a child, not really understanding why some of the challenges existed, she always taught me hold my head up high and be someone full of pride and joy and confidence and optimism,” said Jones, “and how to work hard and dream big dreams. Everyone is the same and I shouldn’t be intimidated or scared. I saw her give service to our community; I remember us always being in some sort of a space where we are giving of ourselves.”

She believes she is “just walking in my purpose. In my current role at OCCC, it really feels like it has come full circle.” Jones started her job as president on March 1 — her late mother’s birthday. “It was really a way to honor her legacy and the dreams deferred and the things she didn’t get to accomplish. A lot of the students that I serve, their backgrounds and experiences mirror mine. I’m able to give of myself and my talents and everything that I have worked hard for, and fully invest in the students that we serve at OCCC. We are building resources, removing barriers and making educational opportunities accessible. We get to serve people from all journeys and all walks of life.”

This year she will be one of 11 named into the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame. “Education has been the great equalizer. It has opened so many doors and opportunities for me, and I don’t take it for granted,” said Jones, and her life’s work backs up that belief as she passes the gift on to as many others as possible.

Photo by Shevaun Williams