#AHHPowerfulWomen: Google Executive Valeisha Butterfield-Jones Finds Her Purpose in Empowering All
(AllHipHop Features) Valeisha currently serves as the Head of Black Community Engagement for Google, responsible for strengthening and deepening the technology giant’s affinity to the Black community globally. She is also the current Co-founder and CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network and author of the highly acclaimed book, The Girlprint, a mentorship guide for women to propel their dreams into action (available at Amazon.com).
As a college student, Butterfield Jones began working full-time for music legends Wu Tang Clan and for former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. After graduation, Valeisha was recruited by HBO Boxing and served as the Executive Assistant to the President of HBO Sports. She then returned to her North Carolina roots and served as the Field Director for Chief Justice Henry Frye of the N.C. Supreme Court. After a devastating loss on election night, Valeisha moved to New York City to further pursue her entertainment dreams and landed an unpaid internship with music mogul Russell Simmons.
Valeisha was a professional standout and turned her entertainment aspirations into action by becoming one of the youngest Executive Directors of a national organization at the time. Valeisha served as the Program Manager, Director of Sponsorship and Events, Vice President and eventually the National Executive Director of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network over a seven-year period.
During this time, she was introduced to then Senator Barack Obama and began serving as a volunteer for his 2008 Presidential campaign. Valeisha recruited celebrity surrogates to endorse and support Senator Obama and received a call soon after election night to serve in the Obama Administration. Valeisha served by Presidential appointment in the Administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the International Trade Administration and as the National Youth Vote Director for the 2012 Obama for America campaign.
Valeisha has been widely credited for her magnetic relationship with youth culture and her role turning out young Americans during the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections. Valeisha also served as the National Ambassador for the United Negro College Fund’s Empower Me Tour in 2014 and 2015.
Valeisha has been recognized by Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle, Essence Top 40 under 40, Ebony Top 100, Jet, Black Enterprise and Sister 2 Sister Magazines as a leading young executive in the United States with her finger on the pulse of all things related to youth culture, entertainment and politics. Butterfield Jones has also appeared on OWN TV’s Light Girls, Aspire TV’s Exhale, Arise News, Arise 360, Centric TV’s Morning Cup, BET News, BET’s 106 and Park and others.
As a dedicated mother and wife, Mrs. Valeisha Butterfield Jones shows her power of balance. She is not only a leader in entertainment but is a leader that supports, promotes and defends the progression of women in the entertainment world but also a powerful force for the black community. AllHipHop caught up with Mrs. Butterfield Jones to talk life, work, and fun as an executive in the entertainment industry.
AllHipHop: What’s the most enjoyable part of the job and your duties?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: The most fulfilling part of my job is knowing that the work I do is having a direct and measurable impact in our community. I’m only inspired when I’m living my life with a clear purpose, so to be able to enjoy what I do and pay my bills while making a difference is honestly a dream come true.
AllHipHop: What is the hardest part?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: Someone recently told me it takes about twenty years to become an overnight success and they were right! That’s probably the hardest part. It can take years and even decades for your work to be properly compensated or recognized, but as long as we’re staying focused on the quality of work and being consistent, I believe we’re on the right path. Also, there are racial and gender barriers that also make the work even harder, so having the strength and wherewithal to strategically fights those battles is key.
AllHipHop: Can you describe a moment of adversity personal and in your career?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: Every part of your career has valleys and peaks, so you have to always expect the unexpected. However, a big moment of adversity professionally for me was when I interned at 25 years old unpaid for nearly a year. I was so hungry to break into the entertainment industry that I knew the sacrifice would pay off and I was right, but it was very humbling to sleep on friends couches and eat Ramen Noodles for months and months with no end, pay off or guarantee in sight.
Also, when I turned 30 years old, I felt like a failure. I felt like a failure only because of false expectations that I placed on myself. My vision in my teens was that by 30 I would be married with a child, a huge house and a six-figure salary. All of those things eventually became true, but in God’s timing, not my own.
AllHipHop: What keeps you from giving up?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: The fear of letting my community down keeps me from giving up. I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility and I honestly feel like I was placed on this earth to make a difference. The pressure I place on myself at times can feel overwhelming, but I know my calling is bigger than myself or my own personal gain. It’s about getting future generations in a position to win and to become successful, so that motivates me to wake up in the morning and go get it.
AllHipHop: How did family play a role in your journey through this industry? (parents, siblings, significant other, children, etc.)Valeisha Butterfield Jones: I’m from a very traditional family and my upbringing was rooted in traditional occupations. The expectations were that we (our generation) would become lawyers, doctors or teachers, so I always wanted to chart my own career path, outside of my parents footsteps. I was also in a unique position to take all of the best practices shared by my parents in their careers and apply it to my work and growth in the industry. It’s been a gift to take all of their values and skills and apply it to my industry.
AllHipHop: Who inspired you to become a leader or boss?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: Sylvia Rhone, Debra Lee, Cathy Hughes and Shanti Das are all powerful women in the entertainment industry that were mentors in my head years before they ever knew my name. I would research them every day and study their moves to understand what it would take to stand out and to become a leader and boss in the entertainment industry. I’m now honored to know each of them personally and professionally and they continue to be my biggest inspiration.
AllHipHop: How do you balance work and personal life?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: I don’t! Honestly, I think you have to remain fluid and flexible in how you prioritize your life. My personal life and family always come first, period. That’s how I center my life, however, when it’s time to get into “go mode,” my family understands that I need a little time to really lock in to get a key project or program off the ground. You also have to have a strong team and know how to delegate. This was difficult for me to accept at first because I had the superwoman syndrome, but you’re only as good as the people you’re around, so be sure to invest in a strong team.
AllHipHop: What do you do for fun?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: Traveling and SoulCycle are my outlets. Whenever I’m on a beach with my husband and good friends, I’m in a great place.
AllHipHop: What are some things you’ve had to deal with that a man wouldn’t?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: As a woman in business, your intelligence is almost always tested and your intentions are often questioned. For years I felt the need to show my worth and over-deliver. While I still do those things inherently, I no longer feel the need to prove myself. Talk is cheap, so I measure my value now by results. Whenever you can back your work up with data, metrics and facts, your value cannot be questioned.
AllHipHop: Final words?
Valeisha Butterfield Jones: Just know that the road to success is best measured by your happiness. My wish is for every young, emerging boss to find true peace and happiness in your work, because you’re going to spend so much of your life fulfilling this purpose. Also, always trust your gut and bet on YOU, first.