theGrio’s 100: Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, the power of positive images

theGRIO's 100 - Valeisha Butterfield Jones is putting the best image of black women forward...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Who is Valeisha Butterfield-Jones?

Valeisha Butterfield-Jones is a political/communications strategist and the co-founder and chair of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN), a global non-profit dedicated to promoting positive images of women in entertainment and media, and providing mentoring, scholarships and support to women seeking careers in media.

The daughter of North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield and State Representative Jean Farmer Butterfield, and a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, Valeisha spent six years as Executive Director of Russell Simmons’ voter education and youth empowerment organization Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. Before that, she was the Director of Diversity and Inclusiveness for the Alzheimer’s Association.

After becoming a campaign volunteer for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, Valeisha went on to work in the Obama administration from 2009-2011 as Deputy Director of Public Affairs for International Trade. In 2012, she served as National Youth Vote Director for the Obama for America re-election campaign.

She was recognized by ESSENCE Magazine as one of its top 40 executives under 40 in 2010, and by the D.C.-based emerging legislative leaders organization IMPACT. And she’s no stranger to the spotlight, drawing lots of attention for her 2011 marriage to Dahntay Jones, who currently plays for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

Why is she on theGrio’s 100?

Between the seemingly endless stream of reality TV shows and the dearth of black women in meaningful roles at the top levels of media, the time is right for an organization like WEEN. Butterfield-Jones has the potential to make an impact on the young women who look up to her for her glamor and celebrity (she formerly dated Terrence J and was engaged to rapper The Game), but who can learn from her accomplishments. And if she succeeds in advancing the conversation about positive images of black women in entertainment, that could be a win as big in its own way as the two presidential campaigns she participated in.

What’s next for Valeisha Butterfield-Jones?

Jones has said her next goal is to further expand WEEN, telling IMPACT: “We provide civic engagement, financial literacy and career advancement opportunities for young women ages 14 – 28. WEEN currently has more than 49,000 members and we plan to expand in the years ahead to empower and educate young women.” And of course, she’ll be keeping busy with her and Dahntay’s first baby, born last year in the heat of the presidential campaign.

Follow Valeisha Butterfield-Jones on Twitter at @valeisha