PowerHouse Women — (Julie) Valle Jones
(Julie) Valle Jones is a PowerHouse Woman in the commercial real estate industry with her 35 years of experience and leadership in the revitalization of our city.
Power, like women, is not a monolith; it comes in many forms. How women harness their power is as complex as the female species itself. Some lead by example, some take risks, some are not afraid to show their strength, others stay humble and behind the scenes. What all these PowerHouse Women have in common, however, is passion and the uncanny ability to turn a dream into a reality. They all believe in what they do and use that sense of purpose to become the best in their industries. Meet one of the six PowerHouse Women featured from the Louisville area who work to inspire others, cultivate change in their fields, and blaze trails wherever their leadership gifts guide them.
(JULIE) VALLE JONES
You can’t experience downtown Louisville without experiencing something that Valle Jones helped to create. From the Whiskey Row Lofts to 111-119 West Main Street, to most recently the ambitious project aimed to revitalize the Russell neighborhood, Valle has left her mark on the grid of Louisville. She is, without a doubt, a PowerHouse Woman in the commercial real estate industry with her 35 years of experience and leadership in the revitalization of our city. Her work is tangible in our city’s skyline, so it is par for the course that Valle believes firmly that success is measured by the vision of the end result, not in the recognition you receive from completing a task.
HOW DID YOU REACH SUCCESS?
Business school and non-profit work taught me that you will never have all the info you need. Well, too bad. You have to gather what you can and make an informed decision. When I first started out, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I have learned to problem solve, think on my feet, do my research, and self-correct. I’ve learned that no one has to have all the skills — you just have to learn how to form a good team.
WHAT BRINGS SUCCESS IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
I respect the tradespeople on the construction site. I talk to people doing the actual work — they will take me aside and tell me the truth. I want to be respectful of their work and not ego-driven. It goes a long way to seek everyone’s perspective and build a community. People feel part of the team and want to be a part of the hard work it takes to complete the project.
WHAT IS POWER?
Power is the ability to find the right team in order to make great change.
ADVICE TO THOSE SEEKING A CAREER PATH?
Women tend to be task-focused, not ego-focused, so women and minorities need to be careful in how much credit we allow others to take for our work.
HOW TO GET BETTER AT YOUR JOB?
Understanding the needs, learning to make quick decisions, and knowing how to manage a team.
I don’t choose projects that don’t benefit the community. Whiskey Row fills the hole in a donut between Main Street and Waterfront Park. I helped to save the historic legacy of those buildings and fill the space, and that was a gift. I am also thrilled to have been a part of Sadiqa Reynolds’ Louisville Urban League project — the Sports and Learning Complex in the Russell neighborhood. This complex is a critically massive, pivotal gamechanging development in the West End. This will change people’s lives!
HOW TO HELP EMERGING PROFESSIONALS?
Teaching young professionals how to build a good team is key. When I started out, I thought I had to know everything, and you don’t. You have to learn that you are the coach; you don’t want a prima donna or another coach on the team.
HOW DID YOU GET TO THIS POINT — WHAT DID IT TAKE TO MAKE IT THERE?
I have learned to translate my experiences into the business sector. Most women in business didn’t start there — they took more of a nontraditional role. They were teachers or worked in nonprofits first. Men get the degree, get mentored, and they are off to the races. Women and minorities have to be creative and resourceful in how they gain access to the industry. I had to learn to translate my passion for nonprofit work into real estate, and I saw that they were connected. I know how to cross-over to different tracks, and that makes me well rounded.
VALLE’S INTEREST IN NON-PROFITS
Valle has helped to connect the corridors of the Waterfront to Main Street, but she attributes her success to the ability to connect her diverse skill sets. In the 1970’s, she helped to found My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence non-profit in Washington D.C. This was before she returned to school and earned an MBA from Yale University. Upon graduation, she moved to Boston, where she could merge her non-profit skills with her business acuity; there she met a husband-wife architect team who saw the crossover between the two worlds. From that point on, Valle has been focusing on historical revitalization and affordable housing developments in urban areas, known in the industry as “infill.”