If there is one thing that you will not find Jan Jones Blackhurst doing, it would be sitting idle.
Jones, as she is most widely known, is a whirlwind of perpetual motion, serving on the boards and committees of seven state and national organizations in addition to her corporate duties at Caesars Entertainment. She also volunteers and contributes to local and national charities and advocates on behalf of several causes including LGBT rights issues, environmental stewardship, and women’s rights to equal pay for equal work.
At Stanford University, she studied English and psychology. “I believe that if you can speak properly and understand people, there is no limit as to what you can do, and those two course subjects have been pivotal to my success.”
Jones’ grandfather was the founder of the California-based Thriftimart/Smart and Final grocery chain. As the brand expanded into Nevada, Jones’ father sent her and brother Rocky to Las Vegas to head up the Nevada operations. Both Jones and her brother began appearing on local television as spokespersons for the family business. She eventually appeared in automobile commercials for former husband Fletcher Jones Jr.
Building upon her television notoriety and the many community organization activities, Jones successfully campaigned to become the first woman to be elected mayor of Las Vegas, serving two terms from 1991 to 1999. “I remember growing up that my father used to say, you can be a sheep and follow, or you can be a goat and lead. The night I was first elected as mayor, my father was on stage behind me and kept saying… I raised a goat… I raised a goat. The people around him probably thought he was crazy, but I could hear him and knew how proud he was.”
“What drives me each day,” Jones said, “is that I love what I do. I love the game of politics; I love working with government and giving back to the community. I think that I learned more about business by being in government because you need to build consensus. I brought that knowledge to my current position where I get to do everything I love from a business perspective. I enjoy waking up each morning and figuring out solutions to complex problems.”
Of her many accomplishments — including her induction into the Gaming Hall of Fame — Jones is most proud of her children: “Getting them raised and into productive living is the greatest accomplishment one could have.”
Jones’ daughter Katie passed the Nevada Bar exam on May 6.
When Jones does relax, you will probably find her on the ski slopes, watching “happy” movies or listening to rock ’n’ roll. Her pleasure reading is mostly mindless books, but she said, “My all-time favorite book is ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’ That book is more about psychology than motorcycle repair and talks about the perspective of two types of people, those who just want to go out and ride with the wind in their hair and the tinkerer that needs to know how things work. I made everyone that I ever dated read that book before developing a serious relationship.”
Jones is married to Dana Blackhurst, a nationally recognized educator and authority on students with dyslexia.
Jones had been known in political and business circles for most of her career as Jan Jones, but in August 2013, after 10 years of marriage to Blackhurst, she officially added his name to hers to honor their love.
— By Craig Ruark