“Life has many doors, education is the key.”


Our Mission

The Gaines-Jones Education Foundation (GJEF) contributes resources and ideas to education with an emphasis on elementary education, library science, theater, and environmental science. This support is provided primarily through annual college scholarships to African-American high school seniors in southwest Georgia and the San Francisco Bay Area who meet the criteria set by the GJEF board of trustees.

We are in our 11th year of giving and we are very proud of our 92 Gaines-Jones Scholars.


Anita Jones Roehrick & Robert M. Roehrick

Anita Jones Roehrick is a Writer/Visual Artist/Storyteller, born and raised in Albany, Georgia. She has a Fine Arts degree from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. In the early 90s, writing and illustrating children’s stories lead Anita to oral tradition storytelling, working in San Francisco Bay Area schools as an artist-in-residence and tailoring storytelling programs for libraries, corporations and private clients. In 2002 she and Rob co-founded The Gaines-Jones Education Foundation in memory of her mother, father and sister who all passed away in the 1990s. Their daughter, Miranda, co-founded Positive Impulse, GJEF’s teen board. She serves as Executive Director of GJEF.

Graphic Artist Rob Roehrick is the principal of Roehrick Design, a communications design studio formed January 1993 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He collaborates with a variety of for-profit and non-profit clientele, creating innovative solutions to promote their organizations.

Rob’s professional design experience prior to 1993 includes staff positions in the firms Destiny Two (Minneapolis), Lance Wyman, LTD (New York), Ace Design and Phippen Design Group (San Francisco). He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Macalester College in 1981 and a Master of Science (Communications Design) degree from Pratt Institute in 1987. Rob serves as Finance Manager for GJEF.


Flora B. Devine

Interim Director of Human Resources, Albany State University, an HCBU in southwest Georgia. During her career, Flora has practiced law across many sectors including federal and local government, private industry, and higher education. Her career in education includes executive-level leadership positions in legal affairs, mediation and conflict resolution, diversity leadership, and cultural competence.






Cynthia Ladd-Viti

Graduate Outreach and Summer Research Coordinator for the Graduate Diversity Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Cynthia is a strong proponent of increasing educational access and graduate school opportunities for historically underrepresented students.  A long-time resident of Marin County, California, she is the mother of two; both graduates of Columbia University in New York City.





 Advisory Board:

Screen shot 2017-11-04 at 2.24.01 PMRobert Jones
Founding Gaines-Jones Board Member

Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A native of Dawson, Georgia, Robert was a founding member of the  GJEF Board. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master of science degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. For 34 years he worked at the University of Minnesota, where he had most recently served as senior vice president for academic administration since 2004. Before that, Robert spent more than 15 years in several key administrative leadership positions at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. In January 2013 he became the 19th president of U of Albany (New York). On September 2016 he became Chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

NatashaNatasha Singh

Writer/Educator/Lecturer. A native of Canada, Natasha is an outspoken advocate for women, and children and speaks widely on sex trafficking in India and gender-based violence prevention education. She taught at Rutgers University, the Collegiate School for boys, and the Branson School. she is Co-Founder and Executive Dir. of Asha Rising, a non-profit providing homes for aging women exiting the sex trade in India. She is the Board Co-Chair for the Center for Domestic Peace. She has a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Canadian Studies from the University of Toronto and a M.F.A. in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. She writes both fiction and creative nonfiction; her work has appeared in The New York TimesSouth Asia Review, , ThreePenny Review, Crab Orchard Review, and various anthologies.


Leigh Freeman

Actor/Singer/Songwriter. Born in Western North Carolina, near what is now the resort community of Lake Lure. She graduated from Bennett College—where she shared the spotlight at Bennett’s Little Theater with the young woman who became Dr. Betty Jones. She has enjoyed parallel careers in business and in the arts—including TV and film roles.

Now living in Charlotte, NC, Leigh continues to work as a performance artist; support the work of organizations that advocate for abused & at-risk children; and gets a little better each year at growing organic vegetables.