50 for 50

Harry L. Jones Sr. – A Sandhills Success Story

Harry L. Jones Sr.

One of the most important and influential people in the Charlotte area thanks the people of Sandhills Community College for his academic start – and the strengthening of his leadership skills.

“Dr. Raymond Stone, the first president of Sandhills, took me under his wing and spent time with me,” recalls Harry L. Jones Sr., County Manager of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. “I had been a leader at East Southern Pines High School and what I saw observing Dr. Stone certainly helped me hone my leadership skills.”

Mr. Jones described Dr. Stone’s style of “management by walking around” and recalls that Dr. Stone was a president who was visible and engaged students.

Today, Mr. Jones is the leader of 5,200 full time Mecklenburg County employees, serving more than 900,000 county residents, with an operating budget of over a billion dollars. “My office door is always open, just like Dr. Stone’s was,” he says.

Young Harry Jones had come to Sandhills right from high school. He earned an Associate in Arts degree in 1970 and served as president of the student government association. He then earned two degrees from UNC Chapel Hill.

“I don’t know if I could have made it at Chapel Hill without the solid foundation I received at Sandhills,” says Mr. Jones. “I wasn’t the best student in high school and hadn’t applied myself. But the instructors at Sandhills and counselor Jane McPhaul made a difference in my life.”  

Mr. Jones, who has a long and varied career in public administration including receiving the 2012 Public Service Leadership Award from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, is a huge fan of North Carolina’s community college system. “I tell young adults, if you’re not sure about what your future should be, spend some time at a community college,” he says. “You’ll have more immediate access to people who can help you. I sure did in my time at Sandhills.”


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