‘It Takes a Mom’ interview series highlights our recent Mother of the Year® honorees by sharing their stories every week. These moms from across the country contribute to our collective voice as mothers. They show us how they harness their maternal energy and how it really does take a mom to do it all! Here’s our interview with Dr. Mautra Staley Jones, 2021 National Mother of the Year® from Oklahoma.
Since being awarded Mother of the Year®, what are some things you have realized about motherhood and maternal energy?
Maternal energy is an amazing force and notion that connects us all as mothers. The energy is something all mothers share in common and manifests itself in various ways as we fulfill our roles as caregivers, nurturers, community servants, and leaders. Motherhood brings out the best in us and unites us on our journey in life. As I’ve shared in the past, motherhood strengthened my desire to be of service in my professional, personal and civic capacities. I have been able to use and harness maternal energy and reflect on how its power has enabled me to fulfill my calling in a multitude of ways. I am eternally grateful to American Mothers, Inc., as this honor has helped me grow in my own journey and fostered my ability to be introspective in my approach. Every day is an exciting journey!
What does it mean to you to be selected Mother of the Year® for your state?
It is a dream come true. I am grateful to God for such an incredible opportunity. My role as a mother really started at the tender age of seven. Being born into extreme poverty, you often have to take on a lot of things that children shouldn’t have to. Having a single mother who suffered from mental illness and had several diagnoses, the fatherless child, being on welfare, being in the foster care system, I mean, the list goes on and on.
I’m not going to stop making a difference and doing all that I can do until I leave this earth. It’s what my whole life’s purpose is, and I feel like, because I went through what I went through, it put a burning passion and fire in me to make a differenceDr. Mautra Staley Jones, 2021 National Mother of the Year®
As someone who grew up with so many challenges, I have overcome so much. My story is mine to embrace, and I’m living proof that generational curses can be broken. My children’s lives don’t look anything like my childhood looked like. I knew that once I became a mother, I would want to give everything I could to my children and make sure that their lives are full and have more happy times than sad ones. I’ve been able to fulfill that dream and that goal of affording my children opportunities that I didn’t have, things that I desired and yearned to do but just couldn’t
I hope that being named Mother of the Year®, if nothing else, serves as encouragement for other moms out there as well as people who are going through trials and tribulations. I am a walking example that demographics don’t define your destiny.
Why do you think it is important to highlight motherhood and all the work that goes into being a mom?
Mothers need to know they are loved, appreciated, and supported! Our work is never-ending and while we don’t seek recognition or honors, acknowledging the pivotal roles we play in society by building strong citizens and families is most rewarding and encouraging! American Mothers, Inc. demonstrates that mothers are doing their very best and meets them where they are in life. By connecting multi-generations, mothers have a strong support system of moms at various stages that helps them understand they too can and will thrive and be successful
Who or what inspires you to work hard & courageously in your role as a mother?
My own childhood experiences continuously inspire me to work incredibly hard in my role as a mother. My experiences paved the way and my pursuit of excellence. My late mother did her very best but did not have adequate resources. My grandmother, nearly 90 years young filled in the gap, and I am forever grateful that she did. Because of her example, I strive to give the same love and devotion to my family and children as she did and continues to do to this very day! I am inspired by her strength, love for God, values, and work ethic! I work daily to instill those same values and morals into my children! I want them to know the sky is the limit!
If you sat in a room with moms from across the US, what are the three things that you’d like to share with them?
Motherhood is a marathon, not a race. Motherhood is a beautiful journey so embrace every single stage. Do your very best and seek out a support system that will speak into your life and encourage you regularly.
What do you do to encourage your children to never give up and persevere?
We are very open and honest in the Jones household. My babies know that my life was difficult and that I want them to be encouraged to know that, ‘hey, we may have some bad days and challenges, but let’s pause for a second and reevaluate things, and let’s figure out how we can overcome these barriers or how we can overcome this challenge because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not as difficult as you may think it is.’
Children have had to really be resilient through this pandemic. While I will say that it brought about so many challenges, some of the beauty that came from that is we got to spend more time together. We were forced to stop and slow down and really think about what matters and what’s important. It’s not that you don’t already know what’s important, but it makes you pause to say, ‘Oh my goodness, we really are blessed’ or, ‘We really need to embrace what we’ve been given,’ and so some of the beauty that came from the pandemic, in my mind, was that forced time together.
At American Mothers, the Golden Rule Movement provides a platform for women who embody the selfless and caring spirit of motherhood, and who are using their maternal energy to make the world a better place. How would you say you exemplify the Golden Rule in your everyday life?
Everything that I witnessed and experienced put this burning desire in me to not want to see others experience what I experienced. I do what I do because I know what it was like being that little girl who wanted to be involved but didn’t have the support of people behind me. I know what those realities are, so for me, I feel like I embody the golden rule in the work that I do. I’m not going to stop making a difference and doing all that I can do until I leave this earth. It’s what my whole life’s purpose is, and I feel like, because I went through what I went through, it put a burning passion and fire in me to make a difference on behalf of the youth in the great state of Oklahoma.
Why do you think an organization like American Mothers is an important platform to have?
American Mothers, Inc. is most important because it allows mothers to have a connection with a network across our nation! Mothers need to be supported and encouraged on their journey and American Mothers, Inc. has mastered developing a solid network of support. AMI gives us a voice and brings us together to share, inspire and uplift each other! Our children and families are stronger and better because of the amazing platform American Mothers, Inc. created! The leadership and volunteers are to be applauded for the remarkable work done on a daily basis to build up mothers across the nation!
Dr. Mautra Staley Jones is known as one of Oklahoma’s youngest thought leaders. She serves as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and External Affairs at historic Langston University. Mautra leads the University’s Oklahoma City campus as site administrator and is the executive director of the LU Foundation. Married to U.S. District Judge Bernard M. Jones II, with three children, Mautra holds a BA, an MBA, and a Doctor of Education. She has been appointed by Governors Kevin Stitt and Mary Fallin and OKC Mayor David Holt. She also serves as a board director for StitchCrew and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Mautra has held numerous offices with philanthropic and civic groups, earning multiple accolades within a broad assortment of agencies. The Journal Record honored her as the 2020 Woman of the Year, named her as one of Fifty Women Making a Difference in the state of Oklahoma for the past three years, and inducted her into its Circle of Excellence. She was named the 2018 Woman of the Year by the Women of Color Expo presented by Perry Publishing and Broadcasting. She has been recognized as an Achiever Under 40 by The Journal Record, OKC Biz, and Oklahoma Magazine. She has served as a board director for Rotary Club 29, the Oklahoma County Bar Auxiliary, Black Liberated Arts Center, Inc., Storm Inc., and Metro Technology Centers Foundation. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., board of advisors for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce; a Salt and Light Leadership Fellow and a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City, Class XXIX. Mautra is a member of MSI Aspiring Leaders, a program developed by the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions, which prepares the next generation of MSI presidents.
Do you have moms in your life you’d like to nominate for the Mother of the Year® honor? Nominate them today!