TAHLEQUAH – James R. Jones has assisted a U.S. developer establish projects in Mexico, provided strategic advice to Toyota executives as they entered the automobile market in Mexico, and represented MetLife in its purchase of a privatized Mexican insurance company. International efforts like these are all in a day’s work for the former U.S. Ambassador and Congressman from Oklahoma.
Jones is the keynote speaker at a public forum as part of the second annual Larry Adair Lectureship Series at Northeastern State University, set for Thursday, Sept. 6 at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Northeastern Education and Technology (NET) Building. “The Unfolding Role of International Trade to U.S. Economic Well-Being” will examine the impact of free trade versus fair trade on the U.S. economy.
Jones was born and raised in Muskogee, graduating from Muskogee Central High School in 1957. He went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1961 and law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. in 1964. He was admitted to the Oklahoma bar in 1964 and began practicing law in Tulsa.
Jones enlisted and served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1961 to 1968, serving briefly in the Army Counterintelligence Corps as a captain from 1964 to 1968.
From 1961-1964, Jones served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Ed Edmondson for Congressional District 2 in Oklahoma. In 1965 at the age of 28, he moved from Congress to the White House, where he served as Appointment Secretary (the position currently entitled Chief of Staff) to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. He is the youngest person in history to hold this position.
After Johnson left office in 1969, Jones returned to Oklahoma and resumed his law practice in Tulsa. In 1972, he was elected to his first term serving Oklahoma’s first Congressional district. Jones was re-elected six times, serving until January 1987. He served as chairman of the House Budget Committee and was a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, where he was active in tax, international trade, Social Security and health care policy. In 1986, Jones made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Don Nickles.
In 1987, Jones resumed his law practice. From 1989-1993, he served as chairman of the American Stock Exchange. During his tenure at AMEX, listings, revenues and market share increased.
President Bill Clinton appointed Jones as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, a position he held from 1993-1997. During his time as U.S. ambassador, Jones provided leadership during the Mexican peso crisis, the passage and implementation of NAFTA, and in developing new, cooperative efforts to combat drug trafficking. He also assisted U.S. businesses with commercial ventures in Mexico.
Jones worked extensively with global distribution and marketing organizations targeting Latin America, Asia and the Middle East during his time as a Congressman and ambassador.
Jones resumed his law practice, and currently focuses on international trade, investment and commerce, business-government relations and financial services. He provides business development advice and consulting for clients in Mexico and Latin America and consults on business and government strategies in the U.S.
Other panelists at the forum include Edwin G. Corr, former U.S. Ambassador to Peru, Bolivia and El Salvador; Dr. Fritz Laux, NSU associate professor of Business Administration; Susan Savage, Oklahoma Secretary of State; and Mark Stansberry, chairman of The GTD Group.
The Larry Adair Lectureship Series was established in 2004 by friends and family of the retiring Oklahoma Speaker of the House to create an annual forum to address issues in politics, government and public policy.