Greg Jones is one of many Cal State University East Bay (CSUEB) alumni who have excelled in their chosen careers but what sets him apart from the rest? Physically and mentally he is close to his alma mater.
He is the former City Manager for the City of Hayward and is now the owner of a successful local, small business, a Hayward resident and a candidate for Hayward City Council in the June 5, 2012 Municipal Election.
As City Manager, he successfully oversaw implementation of Council policy in the City of Hayward and was adept at building relationships. The City and CSUEB are separate entities but he was always at pains to avoid the “town-and-gown” antagonism often found in university towns. Similarly, he was able to support students in Hayward schools collaboratively with Hayward Unified School District (HUSD). The City of Hayward and HUSD might be separate jurisdictions but serve the same community.
He attended night school at Cal State University, Hayward, as it was then known, to earn his Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA).
“It wasn’t easy,” he recalls. “At the time, I was Health & Benefits Manager for the City of Concord and had a young family. I prefer to live close to my job, so commuted to class after work. Despite professional, academic and family demands, a MPA was essential for my career progression. I had gone as far as I could within municipal administration with my existing qualifications and experience. Not only did my employer reimburse tuition and books, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to obtain my MPA from Cal State Hayward.”
Jones graduated from high school when he was 16-years old and from Central Washington University with a BS in Business Administration, aged 20. In addition to an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (cadet) scholarship, he worked in a local cannery, at the University library and started a small landscaping business to pay his way through college.
Upon graduation, he was commissioned as the youngest officer in the US Air Force (USAF) and enjoyed seven years’ service with postings within the US, to England and the Middle East and served world-wide as flight navigator on KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft. He left the USAF with the rank of Captain to return to civilian life in 1990.
He joined the City of Concord as a Personnel Analyst. Five years and two promotions later, he was appointed Health & Benefits Manager. To progress further, he needed a broader understanding of local government. How do political decisions translate to delivery of public services? Some of Jones’ MPA coursework considered the underlying philosophy of decisions, viz. why things are the way they are.
Shortly after earning his MPA in 1997, Jones became Director Human Resources for the City of Concord, with subsequent promotions to Deputy City Manager in 1999 and Assistant City Manager in 2001.
He then spent three years with the City of Chico as Assistant City Manager and City Manager before his appointment as Hayward City Manager in 2007.
“My MPA degree was crucial to my success as a City Manager. While there is no substitute for actually doing the job, the academic preparation gave me the background and confidence necessary to take up the challenge of being the CEO of a municipal corporation. This combination of education and experience is ideal for comprehension and effective representation of the community’s interests and is something every elected official should have. I look forward to continuing my public service” said Jones.
From where did Jones acquire his appetite and respect for education? His educational roots run deep. Both parents worked at Central Washington University; his father was a chemistry professor; his mother was Director of Alumni.
His father’s mantra was "you get out of education what you put into it." This is not a cliché; Jones’ father attended a one-room school-house in a very poor community. His father taught him that a student can overcome any obstacle and achieve any goal on which he sets his mind. In turn, Jones has successfully instilled the same values in his own children, two of whom graduated from public universities; the third is in his Junior year at a public university.