Giving Back and Paying it Forward
Kimberly Jones shares her story & her vision as UF Health Jacksonville's new chief development officer.
Listening more, saying “yes” to the universe and staying persistent.
These are just a few of the actions Kimberly Mariani Jones, MBA, recently appointed chief development officer at UF Health Jacksonville and assistant vice president of development for the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, keeps constant in her professional and personal life. This might be why her humble, easy-going nature is quite infectious, along with her ability to immediately connect with those she meets. One would never know she only has a few months under her belt at UF Health.
Jones has immense passion for this organization, which shines through when she describes how she feels when she walks through the halls, meets with leaders, providers and staff, and gushes about how our enterprise has grown and responded to community needs over the past few decades.
Her tenure as a Jacksonville resident, experience in higher education and development, and personal values will be assets to the UF Health team.
Rooted in Jacksonville
Although Jones was born near Philadelphia, she has spent most of her life in Jacksonville and has always called the River City her home. Not only did she attend elementary, high school and graduate school here, but her parents and in-laws also live in Jacksonville. Although she’s worked in other cities for short periods of time, she was always drawn back to the First Coast.
Jones’ career in development started while she was in graduate school at the University of North Florida. Her passion for writing and desire to work while in school landed her in a campaign writer position. Her mentors and superiors recognized how impactful her writing was. This, along with her talent for building relationships, opened up multiple opportunities for Jones, leading her into a rewarding career in higher education.
Jones eventually rose to become the senior vice president of advancement at Jacksonville University, leading multiple successful campaigns over the course of a combined 16 years in a couple “tours of duty.” Her efforts there led to unprecedented fundraising progress, exceeding the ASPIRE campaign’s $120 million goal ahead of schedule. She was instrumental in the university’s 75th anniversary celebration, establishment of loyal donors and young alumni giving societies, expansion of engagement programs, the creation of a President’s Parents Council and multiple seven-figure gifts, including permanent naming of buildings, outdoor spaces, schools and colleges.
Although her accomplishments throughout her career are immense, she is not one to gloat. She is quick to remind herself, “None of that is possible without generous partners and investors.” She stays humble, continuously praising her mentors and the organizations and others in her life who have helped her get to where she is today.
Though Jacksonville is Jones’ home, she also has a strong connection to the University of Florida. She completed her bachelor’s degree at UF and has continuously followed the university’s growth and progress with admiration. She’s excited to be a part of her alma mater, where she was a scholarship recipient. Her charge — to expand philanthropy efforts for UF Health Jacksonville as a part of the Go Greater campaign, a $3 billion universitywide initiative designed to increase funding for research, multidisciplinary bright ideas, student scholarships, faculty endowments and facilities.
In her short time here, Jones can’t say enough about the cordial environment on the UF Health Jacksonville campus. She said, “The culture here is a differentiator compared to any other health care system I’ve encountered. The employees are clearly proud of the work they do and that informs all of their interactions, most importantly the care provided to patients. You feel that welcoming and warm nature consistently, and it’s a testament to their pride.”
Moving Philanthropy Forward
Jones knows her vision for development will evolve over time, but her purpose is clear. “Along with a tremendous team led by Dr. Haley and the Foundation in Gainesville, I am a champion and advocate for making sure that our community is not just aware, but engaged and supportive of the important work happens here,” she said. She also noted that she wants to generate more enthusiasm internally and externally around philanthropy efforts, and will be building a stronger connection with the UF Health campus in Gainesville to ensure development strategies are aligned.
“We’re better and stronger when we’re more connected,” Jones said about working more closely with our Gainesville campus. She believes in moving forward and focusing on ways to strengthen the “One UF” initiative through donor support.
She admits she has a lot to learn about UF Health, but will apply some of the advice she’s picked up along the path. She stated the first with confidenc:, “Listen more. Two ears, one mouth. Something everyone remembers hearing from their parents when they were kids, but often don’t take it to heart until they become adults.”
Jones continued with, “Say ‘yes’ to the universe. You might think you know what you want to do and who you want to be, but something you may not have considered could be a meaningful, perfect opportunity.” That applies to her own career in development, something she never saw herself going into until she took that first leap in graduate school.
Putting Family First
Personal hobbies, interests and relationships can also inspire satisfaction and goals in a career. Jones is no exception, as her parents, husband and three children play a huge part in her life.
Her husband is an urban planner with an expertise in creating walkable, safe communities. “All of my kids see the world so sweetly,” Jones said, inspiring her to do good and pay it forward on a daily basis. Her youngest daughter, at 4 years old, has even started following in her footsteps, building a sense of empathy and seeing the best in each person she meets.
When asked about her greatest accomplishment, without hesitation Jones said, “My parents have been married for 46 years. Though that’s not my personal accomplishment, it is a gift for our family. They’ve taught me persistence, patience and unconditional love.”
And all of that is why Kimberly Jones will continue to listen more, say “yes” and stay persistent.
Want to help make a difference? Visit UFHealthJax.org/giving, email email@example.com or call 244.1090 to learn how you can volunteer and support UF Health Jacksonville and the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.