Opal M Jones
President & CEO
Location: St. Louis, MO
In 2017, Opal M. Jones led the DOORWAYS nonprofit to embark on its first capital campaign, a decision she said would result in her team being heroes if it succeeded or her firing if it failed.
Jones, the president and CEO, spearheaded the planning and ultimate launch of the campaign to raise nearly $40 million from individual, corporate, foundation and public funders to build a three-acre campus for DOORWAYS. Founded in 1988, the nonprofit is an interfaith organization that provides housing and related services to improve quality of life and health outcomes for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
“The agency had never undergone a capital campaign, and this project required a mix of private and public funding sources that were incredibly complicated to weave together,” Jones said. “Early on, I knew it would take years of commitment by myself, the staff and board. If successful, we would prove heroes. If not, I knew I’d be fired for leading us down the path. Thankfully the community was generous, and various stakeholders championed the project. With their help and more than six years of hard work and dedication from the staff, we opened in October!”
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. The agency plans to break ground on Phase II of the project in 2023. It will include another 39 units of housing for people living with HIV but who also experience another condition, such as a serious mental illness or substance use disorder.
Jones became the second president and CEO of DOORWAYS in 2012, overseeing a $15 million budget that includes five housing programs, a 24-hour residential care facility, multiple properties and a staff of nearly 100 people. During Jones’ 10-year tenure as CEO, DOORWAYS’ revenue has grown 300%, and the number of clients served has doubled.
Jones has served 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. She also 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 the St. Louis Forum (2013-present) as well as the Rise Community Development and MUNY Board of Directors (both 2020-present).
Jones’ career has been marked by numerous recognitions, including the St. Louis Business Journal C-Suite Award (2021), St. Louis Bar Association’s Spirit of Justice Award (2019), University of Missouri St. Louis 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), UMSL Distinguished Alumni Award (2013) and invitation to participate in Focus St. Louis’ Coro Women In Leadership Program (2012).
She holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in management and organizational behavior from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Opal makes a habit of traveling abroad at least once per year. In fact, this year she climbed Machu Picchu in Peru!