Born and raised in the urban streets of Brooklyn, this native New Yorker is proud to call Savannah home! Though she was raised by a single parent in public housing with all the challenges that come with that, her mother and grandmother always emphasized the importance of education. Throughout her life she attended magnet schools and remained an honor student. Shalena graduated with honors from Midwood High School, which is one of New York City’s most competitive and well-respected schools for gifted and talented students.
After high school, Ms. Jones set her sights on Atlanta, Georgia and began her undergraduate career at Spelman College majoring in Sociology with a concentration in Legal Studies. Her personal background made her particularly curious about the relationship between race, class, gender, economics, poverty and crime. Ms. Jones has always had a passion for serving the underserved and knew at a very young age that she wanted to be an attorney.
While at Spelman, Shalena worked full time at a prominent Atlanta hotel chain eventually becoming their youngest Front Office Manager. But, once she set her sights on law school, Shalena transitioned into the legal field and accepted a job at an Atlanta-based Intellectual Property firm. In addition to a full course load and a full-time work schedule, she studied for the LSAT and, in 1999, was accepted into the University of Georgia School of Law, taking a seat as one of very few minorities in her first-year class. Ms. Jones graduated law school in 2002 with several honors and distinctions to her credit. She was a member of the Order of Barristers—an honor society for the school’s top advocates and the Henry Lumpkin Inn of Court. She took and passed the Georgia bar that same year and later went to work for an insurance defense litigation firm.
Attorney Jones has enjoyed a distinguished career over the past 18 years. She is licensed to practice law in three different states, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina on the state and federal level. She has worked for private law firms as an insurance defense attorney and she has been a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. In September 2010, she accompanied her husband, U.S. Army LTC Drevon Jones, who returned to his Savannah hometown to assist in the care of an ill parent.
Shortly thereafter, Shalena took a position in the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit under the leadership of former DA Larry Chisolm. As an SVU Prosecutor, she was responsible for prosecuting all county-wide misdemeanor domestic violence offenses at the municipal and state court levels. Attorney Jones was later promoted to the felony division of the Special Victims Unit. In 2012, the incoming District Attorney Meg Heap named her the sole Elder Abuse prosecutor in Chatham County. After a successful career in the DA’s office, Ms. Jones returned to private practice to hone her litigation and practice management skills with the blessings and well-wishes of the DA and other courthouse personnel.
In October 2014, she was named Managing Partner of an Atlanta-based insurance defense firm and was responsible for establishing their Savannah office.
What started out as a temporary move, eventually became permanent. The more she lived and practiced in the Savannah area, the stronger her ties and commitments to the community became. Eventually, Shalena decided it was time to establish her own private practice which is currently located in the heart of downtown Savannah.
Amongst her many accomplishments, honors and accolades, public service is a theme that runs throughout her personal and professional life. Most recently, she has served as President of the Board of Directors for the SAFE Shelter-- Savannah’s only emergency shelter for women and children who have suffered domestic violence. In partnership with the City of Savannah in 2018, Ms. Jones planned, directed and financed a summer enrichment program which offered STEM training, Cultural Awareness and other informative and interactive courses to children in one of the city’s more economically depressed neighborhoods. She expects the program to continue again this year. Shalena is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Shalena became a licensed minister in 2008 and feels that she has been specifically assigned to minister to the needs of women. She is active in her church and formerly served as Director of the Women’s Ministry at Living Hope Community Fellowship Church in Garden City, Georgia led by her Pastor and Spiritual Mentor, Joyce C. Hall.
Of all the many blessings she has received, both named and unnamed, Shalena is most grateful for her husband, children and extended family, a host of friends and colleagues in the legal community and the opportunity to serve the least, the left out, the lonely and the lost. Attorney Jones expects to continue making inroads as a public servant and community leader in the Chatham County area for years to come.
Why are you running for office and as a Democrat?
I proudly identify as a Democrat and I always have- even before I was old enough to vote. I embrace the principle that our government and its leaders are "of the people, for the people and by the people." Democrats work toward the greater good of all people unlike Republicans who tend to work promote self-interest and capitalism. Though we are all different, Democrats believe that no one person is better, greater ore more deserving than the other. Liberty, justice and equality are the Democratic way. If it were not for these principles, I could not beon the ballot running for public office as a woman of color, from humble beginnings and a single-parent intergenerational family. Through education, hard work, prayer and lots of support along the way, I get to put my education and training to good use by being a public servant. In grade school, I was taught to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance. There is one sentence that still stirs me to this day and it is that we are "... one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
If elected, what would be your top priorities? Why? How would you approach finding a solution?
For as great a country as America is, it's criminal justice system is badly broken and too often creates more injustices than it solves. Black and brown people are incarcerated at alarming rates. Mass incarceration is not only unfair, it perpetuates poverty, widens the education and economic gap, increases recidivism, wastes tax payers dollars and does nothing to make citizens more safe. Paying money to build bigger jails is not the answer. As soon as I am sworn into office, I will eliminate unfair prosecutorial practices, work to create effective alternatives to incarceration that allow folks to pay their dues and move on with their lives. I will resolve petty, low-level offenses expeditiously so I can focus on prosecuting the cases that matter the most, which are serious violent felonies, serial criminals and offenses involving women, children, the elderly and disabled.
Why should voters cast a vote for you?
I am offering our citizens three things: experience, ethics and equality. I have the experience! Almost half of my 20 year career has been dedicated to prosecuting cases, including right here in Chatham County. I know exactly what needs to be done to make our office better. I take an ethical approach to this work! If we keep electing leaders who only think about themselves, we'll always get what we always had. I offer equality! I will work tirelessly to make sure that our county's criminal court treats EVERYONE with dignity and justice for all.