With an established career as an inspiring visionary and leader in dynamic environments, Opal M. Jones became the second president and chief executive officer of DOORWAYS, a 501(c)3 nonprofit located in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2012. As the key executive, she oversees a $15 million organization budget that includes five housing programs, a licensed 24-hour residential care facility, multiple properties, and a staff of nearly 100 people.
Her genuine commitment to the agency’s mission and clients led to vibrant growth, as she quickly responded to increasing depth and breadth of need among clients. With a servant’s perspective, real estate development experience, and programmatic expertise, she guided the agency into expanded housing and empowerment programs.
Witnessing the ongoing HIV epidemic among the poor, and no space for further growth, Opal championed the urgency of creating a portal offering access to 360-degrees of resources. The focus was to build housing, physical/mental healthcare, income/employment, education, and community environments in one place to evolve simultaneously, synergistically stabilizing and strengthening clients and their families.
Using her strategic foresight, planning, and implementation skills, in 2017, she spearheaded the evaluation of capacity for and ultimate launch of a capital campaign. With a team of expert consultants, board members, client feedback, and staff support, combined with Opal’s energy and compelling evidence-based message, the campaign raised nearly $40 million from individual, corporate, foundation, and public funders. The three-acre Jefferson Avenue Campus will enable DOORWAYS to offer a pioneering model of care that uses housing as the mechanism for service delivery by the agency and numerous partners bringing their resources to campus.
Her charismatic personality enables her to build strong strategic alliances, donor relationships, and government/civic support. She has worked to establish a culture of respect, emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion for all associated with DOORWAYS. Her visible leadership and planning skills as well as honed business acumen have led to positions such as the President (2013-2019) of the National AIDS Housing Coalition in Washington D.C., where she met with national leaders, legislators, and government officials about HIV policies. Additionally, she served on the Missouri Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee (2014-2020) and continues as a member of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission Advisory Board (2014-present). She is a member of St. Louis Forum (2013-present) as well as the Rise Community Development and MUNY Board of Directors (2020-present).
Her career has been marked by numerous recognitions: St. Louis Business Journal C-Suite Award (2021), St. Louis Bar Association’s Spirit of Justice Award (2019), University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL) School of Business Salute to Business Achievement Award (2019), St. Louis Business Journal’s Diverse Business Leader Award (2018), St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award (2014), the UMSL Distinguished Alumni Award (2013), and invitation to participate in Focus St. Louis’ Coro Women In Leadership Program (2012).
Opal holds a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Management and Organizational Behavior from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.