"You are not the thing that broke you"
When Nona’s mother found out she was pregnant with her, she cried. She didn’t want the burden of a child and, even though she was married to Nona’s father who wanted a child, she didn’t want to be a mother. When Nona’s father passed away two-months shy of her second birthday, her mother moved to a new state to be with a man she barely knew. After a string of boyfriends over a two year period, she settled with a guy who became her live-in boyfriend. And that’s when the abuse began.
When Nona was just 5-years-old, her mother’s boyfriend began hugging her when her mother wasn’t around; holding her too close to his body and too tightly for too long. Although she was too young to understand what he was doing, it scared her enough to make her start locking her bedroom door when her mother worked late at night. But she learned at that young age that a straightened wire hanger could pick the lock.
At first Nona told her mother what he did to her and her mother had him arrested. But one day her mother took her outside and said she needed his money in the house to pay bills and said she was bringing him back home. At 7 years-old, Nona learned that nothing she said mattered, so when the abuse started again, she stayed silent. And for four years, she pretended she was invisible.
Nona was invited to church for the first time by a classmate in the 6th grade. She had never heard of God or the Bible before that time and didn’t know what to expect when she attended her first service. The preacher spoke directly to her heart that day when He said “God is a father to the fatherless.” After hearing that, she wanted to know more about who God was and began studying the Bible for herself at 11-years-old. And at 12, she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
For the next five years, Nona grew more and more active in ministry, becoming a worship leader, youth leader and, eventually, a minister-in-training. At 17-years-old, Nona was licensed into the Gospel ministry in Jacksonville, Florida. She quickly began preaching around Florida and was eventually invited to preach around the country. When she went to college at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, she became a sought after preacher and public speaker on campus and in area churches.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor in Communications and Master of Business Administration, Nona experienced meteoric success in her career. She was appointed to her first executive role at only 23-years-old with a Fortune 100 company, giving her exposure at an early age to business strategy. She was then offered an executive role in the public sector, leading the public affairs and regulatory strategy of a multi-service, municipal utility with revenues in excess of $500 million. In this role she was awarded the American Public Power Association’s Robert F. Roundtree Rising Star Award as national peer recognition of her leadership while under the age of 35.
Immediately following this role, she was recruited to the nonprofit sector C-Suite to build the external affairs strategy for a statewide network of alternative schools. In her role, she provided leadership on Federal and State legislative advocacy, resource development, brand strategy and program expansion. She became a respected voice in the juvenile justice reform movement, keynoting Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Youth Violence Prevention Summit and the United Nations GirlUp International Summit.
Nona was then asked to join Facebook and leverage her business acumen and ministry leadership to build its global faith-based partnerships strategy. Having never worked in technology before, it was a God-appointed opportunity that has shaped her unique expertise in leveraging social technology to build The Kingdom. She has worked with the largest churches in America and abroad and is considered a thought-partner to many of the world's most influential faith leaders. Nona has equipped thousands of church leaders with her approach to shifting from social media to social ministry.
Nona is blessed to be married to her partner in life and ministry, Pastor Timothy L. Jones, Sr.. Together they lead Open Door Ministries in Gainesville, Florida, a church filled with love, truth and passion for seeing the lost come into the knowledge of Christ. She is the proud mother of Timothy, Jr. (8), Isaac (5), and Goldendoodle Shiloh.
Beyond the pulpit and boardroom, Nona is an accomplished vocalist, songwriter, worship leader and musician who wrote, composed and co-produced her Billboard-Charting Gospel Album, “Take Me.” She has also written five books and is an avid runner and fitness enthusiast, having recently run her 13th half-marathon in Paris, France.
Nona has been profiled by ESSENCE Magazine as an “Under 40 Woman to Watch” and Florida Trend Magazine as one of Florida’s “30-Something All Stars.” She is currently President of the Gainesville (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and serves on the University of Florida Digital Advisory Council. She most recently served as Secretary of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association Board of Directors and on the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force. She is a graduate of Leadership Florida and the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, a unique leadership development initiative led by President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.
Nona has been recognized as a University of Florida Outstanding Young Alumnus and is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.