"I didn't grow up thinking my life would be in football."
Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones recapped her journey to the Dallas Cowboys in a special virtual panel celebrating Women's History Month called "Ladies First: Breaking Barriers" powered by Character Playbook and EVERFI.
Once Jones became an integral part of the Dallas Cowboys organization, she probably never thought she'd be teaming up with a member of the Washington Football Team. But Jones found herself in a virtual meeting Tuesday with Washington's running back coach, Jennifer King, the first African American woman to be a full-time assistant coach in the NFL.
In addition to Jones and King, the panel held over Zoom also included Laura Okmin, broadcaster for NFL on FOX and founder of GALvanize and Sarah Fuller, a senior at Vanderbilt who became the first woman to ever play in a "Power 5" football game last season. It was moderated by MJ Acosta, the host of NFL Total Access, the first Afro-Latina host at the NFL Network, and an Emmy-winning journalist who advocates for representation and equality in journalism.
The panel was intended for any and all interested parties, but the Dallas Cowboys, Character Playbook, and EVERFI, specifically invited middle school and high school students and teachers to learn about the stories and challenges that these women faced while succeeding in sports. Students asked submitted questions answered by the panel.
The importance of these great stories extends beyond the practical advice from trail blazers like Jones, Acosta, Fuller, King, and Okmin; they are also testaments that sports does not
have to be male-dominated. It takes the courage from women like the ones on this panel and it takes male allies within the system to refuse to stand down in the face of sex-based discrimination.
"It was crazy, and then, suddenly...it wasn't crazy," Okmin said of being recognized as an integral part of the football world as a woman.
Now, Okmin is the third-longest tenured sideline reporter in NFL history. If some high school and middle school girls just need to see women in sports to believe they can pursue a career in the field, Tuesday's panel was just a small sliver of women accomplishing great things in similar capacities. Hopefully some of those students play a part in helping that trend to keep growing, perhaps on a path similar to Charlotte Jones.
As the daughter of Jerry Jones, she oversees all business operations, strategies and applications surrounding the Dallas Cowboys brand as it is presented to fans worldwide. Working in the executive office since 1989, Jones's experience has propelled her forward as one of the most innovative and versatile executives among women in professional sports and executives as a whole.
Recognized as one of the most powerful women in sports, Jones was named Chairman of the NFL Foundation in 2012 where she is responsible for spearheading the NFL efforts in youth football participation, health and safety, and community outreach. She was also the first female to serve as Chairman of The Salvation Army's National Advisory Board from 2010-2014 and has been actively involved with leadership roles for a wide range of national and local organizations.