After a thorough search and interview process, the Communications and Public Engagement (CAPE) Department is extremely excited to announce it has hired Leonard Jones as a Community Development Specialist. This position requires unique skills and knowledge of Buncombe County, and Leonard’s experience in local government paired with his enthusiastic passion for working in his hometown will be an immediate asset to our outreach and communication efforts. “This position forms critical connections in the community,” explains CAPE Director Lillian Govus. “Not only is this role responsible for leading our community markets that connect residents to voter registration, vaccines, blood pressure screenings, food security, and more, but this role also partners with County departments to utilize the Inform, Consult, Engage, and Partner (ICEP) model.”
Leonard is a third-generation Asheville native and already familiar with Buncombe County having worked in our Health and Human Services Department for six years. “Our Communications and Public Engagement team is committed to connecting our employees and community members to County resources, and Leonard’s background and skill set make him just the right person for the job,” notes Rasheeda McDaniels, who leads the County’s public engagement work. “I’m especially excited for the new ideas he’ll bring.”
Serving on the County’s Equity and Inclusion Workgroup and other community-based boards, Leonard brings strong existing ties to the area. “As a native of Asheville and especially as a Black man, this is an opportunity for me to give back to my community in a professional capacity. I look forward to the opportunity to advocate, educate, and collaborate with the community,” says Leonard, noting that as the County changes, he wants everyone to have a voice so they can feel connected to the County.
A major aspect of the Community Specialist position is coordinating and working at our weekly community markets, a critical point of contact for better understanding and serving the County’s various and diverse neighborhoods. “These markets are an opportunity for community partners and the County to serve, listen, and address some of the challenges various communities are facing,” explains Leonard. “I have passion for history, especially local history… I want to use that knowledge to learn from our past and strive to incorporate that knowledge as we move toward solutions for the future of Buncombe County.”
Leonard’s first day in his new role as Community Specialist is Monday, March 29.
After finishing a Bachelor’s Degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, I returned home to work in finance at the Grove Park Inn and Bank of America. In 2010, I took a position with the City of Asheville where I begin my career in local government and joined various community boards. In 2014, after completion of my Master’s Degree from Western Carolina University and involvement with the Diversity Engagement Coalition, I joined Buncombe County Health and Human Services on the contracts team in finance. Over the past six years with Buncombe County, I have had the privilege of being a part of various opportunities to serve the community as well as the organization. Most recently, I’m part of the Equity and Inclusion Workgroup. I will continue to bring a level of integrity and commitment to service to this position that has been a cornerstone of all my prior work and lived experiences.