A woman who recently had been working for the state Department of Health and Human Services — and who also has a background in academia and local governments — has been named the City of Rocky Mount’s new human resources director.
The hiring of Kena Cofield Jones was announced by City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Jones will be paid $140,000 a year, a press release on Tuesday from City Hall said.
During Monday’s council meeting, Small-Toney called Jones “a consummate professional” and said Jones brings more than 30 years of experience in human resources management.
“She has a breadth of knowledge in all aspects of human resources, including pay and classification, benefits administration, employee relations, workers’ compensation and safety as well as employee development and recruitment,” Small-Toney said.
Small-Toney said Jones most recently had been part of the executive leadership team at the DHHS Division of Public Health, where she led, mentored, coached and developed the human resources team.
Small-Toney asked Jones, who was in the council chamber, to stand and be recognized and also asked whether she wanted to address the council.
Jones said she is just glad to be here.
“Welcome,” Mayor Sandy Roberson said.
Jones, in a posting on the LinkedIn career-oriented website, said she had been with DHHS for about eight months.
Jones, in the LinkedIn posting, said her career can be traced back to 1987, when she joined the City of Richmond, Va.
The press release from Rocky Mount City Hall said Jones, while with the municipal government in Richmond, served as the city manager’s chief of staff and human resources manager and served in numerous other positions in human resources.
The LinkedIn posting said Jones served about 16 years with the municipal government in Richmond before serving in a variety of key human resources positions with the District of Columbia’s government.
The posting also said Jones served as a consultant and human resources director at Saint Augustine’s University, which is a private, historically African-American institution in Raleigh.
As for academics, the LinkedIn posting said Jones is an adjunct professor with Trinity Washington University, which is a historically Catholic institution in the District of Columbia.
The posting said Jones has a bachelor’s degree in business from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va.; a master’s degree in business administration from the University of the District of Columbia; and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Minnesota-based online Walden University.
In Rocky Mount, Jones fills the position held by Elayne Henderson, who retired at the start of March.
Henderson was hired in March 2005 and was being paid $119,954 a year.
Jones is reporting for work amid department heads and key officials having left City Hall since Small-Toney became city manager in July 2017.
The list of departures includes Energy Resources Director Rich Worsinger; Public Works Director Jonathan Boone; Fire Chief Mike Varnell; Internal Auditor Darlana Moore; Planning and Development Director Ken Graves; Downtown Development Manager John Jesso; and Community Development Manager Kellianne Davis.
Jesso was paid $40,000 by the municipal government as a result of a legal and financial settlement.
Also, Lori Cairo, who was hired as internal auditor in November 2018, left in July 2019.
In August 2019, Small-Toney dismissed David Wise after he was hired in March of that same year to lead Rocky Mount’s Main Street revitalization program.
A most visible departure came in September 2019, with then-Community and Business Development Director Landis Faulcon resigning after having reached a settlement with the municipality.
Faulcon was hired in January 2018, but questions began surfacing in early 2019 about her competency and her continuing to live in Virginia Beach, Va., and in Halifax County.