Brinette Jones, M.S.W.
I grew up impoverished, but my mom made helping others a priority. She taught me that you didn’t have to have a whole lot of money, but you had to serve in some capacity. As a little girl, as early as 5 and 6, I saw that service changed lives. I had a great example through my mother.
I knew I wanted to help children in foster care, children who didn’t have homes, and planned to be an attorney in the field of child welfare law. Then one day, I woke up and said, “You know what? I want to be a social worker.”
I always had the passion for social work, but the actual skill set I have is because of the VCU School of Social Work. VCU provided the foundation. And it stretched me. My professors made me challenge my individual beliefs and values. How could I influence someone if I couldn’t put my own biases and prejudices aside? Many candid conversations happened throughout that course work. I don’t think I would’ve done as well as I have professionally without what I learned at VCU.
I never wanted to be on the administrative side of social work, but once I reached that supervisory level, I saw an opportunity. I looked at how I can impact change at the administrative level. Can I change policies? Can I change procedures? Can I change the way we think about and approach clients? Now, I'm looking at things globally. What are the resources we should put in place, the legislation that must happen, to really make a difference for children and families in their communities?
Just knowing that I’m changing lives keeps me in social work. I’ve had children who have aged out of foster care, who are now in their 30s, call me at every life milestone. They say, “Hey, Ms. Jones! I’m getting married. I’m having my first child. I’m moving into my first apartment. What do you think about this?” I can see the influence I’ve had on their lives.
There’s a term I use: “greatness.” I want everyone to achieve their own personal greatness, regardless of whatever situation or circumstances they may have experienced.
This is why I’m a social worker.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Virginia in 1996 and an M.S.W. from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in 1998, Brinette Jones joined the staff of the Richmond Department of Social Services, where she has spent her career. Following many years as a clinical social worker serving youth and families, Jones became the deputy director of children, family and adult services, a job she has held since 2014.
With certifications in parenting and child protective services rounding out her resume, Jones brings her exceptional professional credentials to VCU as an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work, where she teaches an undergraduate course on “the person and society.” In her spare time, she volunteers with local youth and seniors.