DELRAY BEACH — It can be tough to be the daughter of an icon, but Charlene Jones handles it well. For years, her mother, Vera Farrington, has been recognized as an educational and cultural community leader in South Florida, most notably in Delray Beach, where the family has resided since the mid-1920s.
When Farrington led the efforts to found the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in 1995, Jones was an email/file server administrator with the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. It wasn’t until 2000 that she actively joined the staff of the Spady Museum as program director, overseeing the children’s programs that help make the venue a neighborhood hub.
Now as age slows her mother, Jones, 48, has taken another step toward continuing the family legacy of historical and cultural stewardship, assuming the role of museum director this month and working with the board of Expanding and Preserving Our Cultural Heritage (EPOCH, Inc.) to keep the museum active and vibrant.
Under her leadership as interim director, the museum has re-established its reputation with its largest funder, the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency; forged new partnerships with city and county organizations; and streamlined its offerings, so its guests and members can expect quality programs and events.
Working with a staff of two employees and two consultants, Jones oversees the museum’s funding, grant-writing, program management, facilities management and partnership facilitation. She weighs in on everything from the light bill to the Florida Power & Light sponsorship of the museum’s monthly “Ride & Remember” Trolley Tour.
“The Spady Museum is more than my mother’s legacy,” Jones said. “It’s more than my family’s contribution to the city. To me, the Spady Museum represents the voice of a people who helped to build this area into the dynamic collection of people it is now.”
She added that without proper acknowledgment of everyone’s gifts to the city, “no one can be truly acknowledged. We have a special responsibility to make sure that history and culture and art from the African-, Caribbean- and Haitian-American communities are celebrated and enjoyed. It is a more than a job; it’s a dedication, but I feel it is very worthwhile one.”
Jones earned her bachelor’s in Business Administration from Mercer University in Georgia in 1985. She began her career as a salesperson for CORE International then continued as an assistant buyer for Wisteria in Boca Raton before joining the Sun-Sentinel. Her varied career experiences include professional runway model, life skills trainer, youth mentor, esthetician, wholesale computer hard drive sales and retail clothing buyer.
She is affiliated with Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church of Delray Beach, and is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Delray Beach Chapter; the Florida African American Preservation Network; Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce Non-Profit Council; Palm Beach County Cultural Council, Cultural Education Committee; Spirit of Giving Network; and the Delray Beach West Settler’s Historic District Advisory Board.
Photo: Charlene Jones