Naomi Monk is a dynamic Southwest civic leader, whose influence and leadership have had a great impact in our community. Monk’s service to her community has been recognized many times over the years. She received an award at the first annual Livable, Walkable Awards in recognition of her livable, walkable vision and leadership in the neighborhood, an award presented at a well-attended celebration hosted by then–Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. In 2006, Monk was also awarded the DC Mayor’s Community Service Award. Monk was also elected as president of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) and served as a highly effective member on a number of SWNA task forces over the course of many years.
For a number of years Monk joined in patrolling Southwest streets with other “orange hat” neighborhood volunteers at dusk. This program was part of an effort to increase public safety in the community, and to display confidence in the effectiveness of direct community engagement and involvement. Monk also worked with the Metropolitan Police Department as the coordinator and facilitator of monthly meetings between residents and police officers of the Police Service Area for Southwest. The meetings are held in different housing complexes each month, creating a strong relationship between the officers and the community they served.
Monk also had a great influence on guiding the appropriate redevelopment of Waterside Mall and the larger Southwest Waterfront area. First, through service as chair of the SWNA Task Force on Waterside Mall/Waterfront, and then as president of SWNA, where she guided many development issues at board and community meetings. Monk is also a former director of Carrollsburg, A Condominium. She is retired from the U.S. Army Materiel Command as a program manager, and the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
Rhonda Hamilton is a Southwester through and through, living, working, and volunteering in her community. Hamilton has been a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, resident of Syphax Gardens, and has served as a member of SWNA’s Youth Activities Task Force (YATF). In her youth, Hamilton was also a participant in many YATF programs and was a recipient of a scholarship from the Education & Scholarship Task Force scholarship fund. She received her first experiences working in Southwest as a volunteer with the Syphax Gardens Resident Council, and with the 2000 census ringing doorbells. Hamilton received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of the District of Columbia and a master’s degree in public administration from Southeastern University. Her past work has included a position with the South Washington Collaborative’s Youth Truancy Reduction Intervention Program, in partnership with Jefferson Middle School, to try to curb high truancy rates in the local community.
Hamilton and Pat Graham led the “74 Bus Committee,” a steering committee of community stakeholders and WMATA staff, which was a unique collaborative effort to develop a successful new bus line for the area. She has also served for several years as a commissioner for ANC6D, where she has advocated on behalf of her neighborhood and the larger Southwest community. She utilizes her lifetime of perspective on the area to strengthen decisions from the commission that impact Southwest, including recent work in addressing environmental and public health concerns that have come with increasing new development. These efforts included pushing for favorable treatment for area residents to rent apartments in the Camden South Capitol apartment complex across from Nationals Park and calling for better awareness and accountability of remediation and cleanup efforts for the Pepco substation and DC United Stadium sites. She also serves as an active leader by engaging with various community groups, such as SWNA and Empower DC, in the mission to effectively improve the quality of life for Southwest residents.
Thelma Jones is a longtime resident of Southwest who has spent years receiving specialized training to enable her to serve and train youth and others for better lives, and is continually working on behalf of her community. As an expert in the dynamics of community organizing, Jones has filled many leadership roles in Southwest. She has served SWNA as chair of YATF, and as an active member of the education/scholarship and history task forces. Her role at SWNA has also included time serving as a member of the Board of Directors, vice president, and president of the organization.
Year after year under Jones’s leadership SWNA has celebrated Black History Month in February community programs, where heart-warming and stirring speeches have been told of hardship and stellar progress in Southwest. Jones’s frequent byline in The Southwester likewise highlights her contribution as a journalist in the community. She has for years appeared in the staff box as assistant editor or staff writer. Jones’s skill at public speaking has also led to her prolific role as chair of several public forums and mistress of ceremonies at art auctions, Black History Month programs, fundraisers, award ceremonies, call box dedications, and dinner-dances.
Jones’s many years of experience working at the World Bank have brought many benefits to Near Southwest. Through this connection the World Bank has hosted visits from SW students, who learn about the bank’s role in less developed countries, and how the bank raises and manages money. The World Bank’s summer employment for youth program, established by Jones, served as the model for Southwest’s programming for recruiting employers and preparing youth for jobs, and was further utilized as the model for the citywide mayor’s summer jobs program. Jones has also spent several years as a leader and activist in the cancer survivor networks, working with the American Cancer Society and by establishing the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund and associated local support groups.
Jones’s many qualities and achievements are captured by the variety of recognition awards she has received over the years. These include 1992 and 2003 Grassroots awards from the DC Federation of Civic Associations, selection as a 1995 Seven on Your Side Black History Month honoree, the 2010 Mayor’s Community Service Award For Lifetime Achievement, the 2012 DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Standing in the Gap award. In 2017, Jones even received a DC City Council Resolution on the occasion of her 65th birthday and the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund.
Jones has a degree from Durham College and studied at Trinity College and Catholic University, both here in DC, and has received certificates from Georgetown University and The George Washington University.
By: Ryan Pierce, with contributions by Dale MacIver