Memphis is undergoing a modern renaissance, and art isn’t the only creative outlet that is pushing the city towards a new area of intelligence. People like Kela Jones are paving the way for the youth of today to become the thought leaders of tomorrow. As the Director of Code Crew, Kela’s passion is the youth of Memphis.

What started in high school as a passion for volunteering turned into a bright future of helping others. Kela credits her experience with volunteering as the beginning when she was recognized in high school by the Rotary Club for her volunteer activities. She would move through college as a sports management major and work for the Redbirds. After these experiences, she would begin grant writing and her future of fundraising.

At the core of Kela’s passion lies the youth of Memphis, with her own son being her biggest cheerleader. As a dedicated advocate of youth advancement, Kela spent a lot of time doing research in her field and being involved in the community. “My son is one of my biggest inspirations,” Jones says. “My son, he has been my motivation and inspiration. He is the reason why I finished college. And it is a parent’s job to ensure that their child goes above and beyond what they’ve done. He, as a young black male, is protected and has opportunities.”

Kela was asked how she stays motivated. Afterall, being busy as a Director and a mother is no easy feat. Taking time to decompress and prioritizing a work life balance allows her to create opportunities to step back and find a moment’s peace to herself.

Memphis the Muse

Home is where the heart is. Having lived in the bustling busy city of Miami, Kela returned to Memphis, her true home. “Memphis is one of those places where if you’re a true Memphian, you have a grit and grind about you that you can share with others.”

Kela explained that Memphis is more than music. It is a city full of spirit. “When you are born in Memphis and when people come here…they experience it from the moment they arrive.”

Memphis is a special place to Kela, her son, the youth, and anyone who touches the city. Kela mentioned that she always dreamed of the Crosstown building being renovated, and today it stands as a proud vertical urban village. The love of this city is strong and growing with folks like Kela who put in the work to see this city reach its new potential.

What does Bring your soul mean to you?

“Bring your true self, be authentic, be genuine. Let your character and your light shine.” Kela noted that people being their authentic selves is the essence of them bringing their souls. “Whether you’re an artist or musician,that’s bringing who you authentically are to the table.”

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