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Sandra Miller Jones

Marketing executive Sandra Miller Jones was born on August 6, 1946 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1968, Jones received her B.A. degree in sociology from Howard University, where she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She then became the first African American woman to graduate from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business when she received her M.B.A. degree in 1971.

Upon graduation, Jones was hired as the first African American woman manager at Quaker Oats Company, where she managed several of the company’s major franchises including the $100 million-plus Quaker Oatmeal franchise. In 1978, Jones left Quaker Oats and founded Segmented Marketing Services, Inc. (SMSi), a national marketing services company. SMSi’s client list includes Procter & Gamble, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Revlon, Quaker Oats, Kraft Foods, General Mills, and the United States Postal Service, among others. In 2013, Jones founded SMSi Health Insurance Solutions, whose mission is to help underserved consumers acquire affordable health insurance. She also became an adjunct professor of marketing at Wake Forest University’s Babcock School of Management.

Jones helped establish the National Black MBA Association and the Chicago Minority Purchasing Council, and helped start a business initiative for the League of Black Women in Chicago, Illinois. She has served as board chair of the Jack and Jill of American Foundation’s WIN (We Invest Now) for Tomorrow, a program that teaches financial and investment skills to African American teenagers. She has also served on the boards of Family Services, Inc. and Summit School in Winston-Salem, as well as board chair of the Winston-Salem YWCA. In addition, she was active in women’s and youth activities at Goler Memorial AME Zion Church in Winston-Salem.

Jones is married to her business partner, Lafayette Jones. They have one daughter, Bridgette.

Sandra Miller Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 14, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.214

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/14/2014

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Miller

Schools

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Business

Kimberley Park Elementary

Paisley IB Magnet School

Howard University

First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Winston-Salem

HM ID

JON39

Favorite Season

Summer

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

8/6/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Winston-Salem

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Marketing chief executive Sandra Miller Jones (1946 - ) was the founder and CEO of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Employment

Quaker Oats Company

Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Job Corps RCA

Winston-Salem Journal

First National Bank of Chicago

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sandra Miller Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her father's education and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Kimberley Park Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Sandra Miller Jones describes the African American community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers John W. Paisley Senior High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the Safe Bus Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Goler Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers the entertainment of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers her favorite teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the influence of Winston-Salem Teachers College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls her decision to study sociology at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls the takeover of the administration building at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her decision to attend the Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her extracurricular activities at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her experiences at the Graduate School of Management in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the influence of sociology in business

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her position at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers the black business leadership of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones recalls the founding of the National Black MBA Association

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Charles H. Curry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the administration of the Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her role at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers working with minority businesses at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her accomplishments at the Quaker Oats Company

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her reasons for founding Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers her first client at Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her parents' involvement in her company

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the early clientele of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers meeting her husband, Lafayette Jones

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones remembers Harold Washington's mayoral campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the logistics of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her civic involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon her success as an entrepreneur

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon the success of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the development of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about the future of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her business philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sandra Miller Jones reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sandra Miller Jones shares her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sandra Miller Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sandra Miller Jones talks about her adopted daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sandra Miller Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sandra Miller Jones narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$3

DAStory

2$8

DATitle
Sandra Miller Jones talks about the development of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions
Sandra Miller Jones remembers working with minority businesses at the Quaker Oats Company
Transcript
Oh, 1999, you launched Shades of Beauty. Now that, that's--is that again Lafayette's, or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That's Lafayette's.$$Okay.$$Yes, yes.$$But--okay. And how is that different from Urban Call? Did it have the--did it focus on the cosmetology industry?$$Well, that's a Lafayette [Jones' husband, HistoryMaker Lafayette Jones] question, so--$$Okay. All right. All right (unclear).$$(Laughter) All that is his--all that publishing stuff is, is his area.$$Okay. Well, then I'm going to jump way ahead, you know (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay (laughter).$$Past the election of Barack Obama [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama] and everything else to 2013--$$Okay.$$--to the founding of SMSi Health Insurance Solutions [Winston-Salem, North Carolina].$$Yes.$$Yeah.$$Yes.$$So this is an affordable health--$$Yes, yes. When we found out that the Affordable Care Act [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010] was coming into existence, we knew that the message was not getting out to our community, African American community especially and Hispanic community secondarily, because we weren't hearing anything. All that we knew was what we heard on the media, and that was so often very negative, and we knew that there was--that, that having people insured was a good thing, so we had to find a way to get that message out. We wrote to the president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina [Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina], Brad Wilson [J. Bradley Wilson, Jr.], and asked him if we could come in and talk to his people about sponsoring an outreach effort, and we were able to get that done, so we went in, and we talked to Blue Cross Blue Shield about starting an outreach effort to inform African Americans throughout North Carolina about the Affordable Care Act, and although our business [Segmented Marketing Services, Inc., Winston-Salem, North Carolina] is national, to be able to focus on North Carolina, we had to build territories that--just as though they were in some other part of the country or part of the world, so instead of our territory being the Chicago [Illinois] market, now we built a territory that was the Greensboro [North Carolina], High Point [North Carolina] market, and the Durham [North Carolina], Wake [Wake County, North Carolina] market until each one of our markets in North Carolina we treated as a separate market as opposed to just a part of the--of one whole state execution. So we built teams in each of those markets just like we have in our other cities, and these teams of people went out and developed relationships and continue to do so now with the gatekeepers in churches and community organizations; beauty salons, barbershops, to help us get the message out about the Affordable Care Act. We were able to do this. We were able to reach about a half million households in North Carolina with a message and face to face presentations to over three thousand opinion leaders, and, as a result, we were part of the movement in North Carolina that enabled us, as North Carolina, to be the fifth largest state in terms of number of people signing up for the Affordable Care Act in the nation, and by far, the largest state in the nation that did not accept Medicare [sic.]. North Carolina--the Medicare expansion that was offered as a part of the Affordable Care Act, North Carolina was one of the states that didn't accept that Medicaid expansion. South Car- (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) With a Republican governor [Pat McCrory] or something or--$$Absolutely.$$Yeah.$$And South Carolina, for example, right next to us, North Carolina did about 350,000 enrollments, and South Carolina did about thirty-two thousand enrollments, so you can see the difference between the efforts that were made here despite the fact that we didn't have the support of the government here and the results. One of the things that we learned as we were doing our executions is that there just are not enough agents servicing our community to even sign up or enroll, help the people to enroll, into the Affordable Care Act, so that's why we decided to start an agency, and that's SMSi Health Insurance Solutions, so that we could; one, provide this excellent job opportunity to people in our community to be their own boss because that's what an insurance agency is, their own boss. They're an entrepreneur. And to--to develop some residual income while also being of such a significant service to the community at large.$And would you--how--now how did you--were, were you able to--well, how much of your job had anything to do with, you know, marketing the products to the black community specifically?$$None.$$Okay.$$But I did connect with the black community only because I had an interest there and did some outreach to the community, and that's why I knew all of the African American advertising agencies. I worked very hard to get agencies both advertising and promote and marketing research agencies at that time. I didn't know of any black promotion agencies, but marketing research, yes. Tried to get them contracts with Quaker Oats Company. I brought them in and introduced them to the powers that be who could make those decisions, and whenever I was able to make a decision that would enable me to work with a black supplier, I did that, so I was quite aware of the need to, to bring more blacks into the marketing world, to the--$$Were they working with any black or, or contractors before you started?$$Probably not. Probably not, yeah.$$That's what I would guess. Just--$$That's what I would guess at that (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I, I figured I would ask.$$Yeah. (Laughter) Yeah.$$And were you ever criticized for, for bringing in too many black people?$$No.$$No, okay.$$No, no, no, never was. I, I think it was quite a fascination for them. We brought groups in to, to do things with us, and, so, yeah.$$Well, that's good because there's some many times I hear the story that someone gets into a position to hire black contractors that have never been involved before in, in the--that--in a particular business, and then they criticize for you're, you're only, you know, you're trying to make our organization--make all the contractors black and that sort of thing.$$Yeah. No. It wasn't that.$$But, but you never did get that.$$Never that problem.$$Okay.$$[HistoryMaker] Byron Lewis who started UniWorld advertising agency [UniWorld Group, Inc.] recently had a tribute to him in New York [New York] and invited us to come and speak at--to be one of those people who talked about him. And, oh, he always credits me with saving his agency, and that can't be so, but he credits me with that. He says that his agency was on the skids, and we came to Quaker Oats Company. And I was able to help them get a major contract to do a black soap opera ['Sounds of the City'], as a matter of fact, that was what they had proposed, and that contract he maintained saved his agency. He was able to go on and build from there, and so I'm always pleased about that.$$Right. Well, that's, you know, heretofore, and I guess, prior to '68 [1968] or so, there were very few blacks in business that had--that got any contracts from major corporations.$$Absolutely.$$For any reason, so--$$Yeah.$$--so this is, this is all ground breaking at this time, so Byron Lewis, okay.