HOUSTON - In one month it’s hard to tell you about all the people of color continuing to achieve great things but before Black History Month comes to a close we have to tell you about this.
Congratulations to native Houstonian Dr. Trina Burkes-Jones who recently received a promotion, making her the first African American to hold this job here in Harris County.
"I am still in awe," smiles Dr. Burkes-Jones, who is now the first African American Executive Assistant Chief Investigator for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. She was promoted by the D.A. herself, Kim Ogg. "It is an honor because we have not been able to progress in this office in this magnitude if it had not been for her," she explains.
As crowds seek social justice across America, achieving diversity in this role is critical in the fight for racial equality.
"You have to think about what we’re doing. We’re here to make certain the public, the people, the community have the best chance at getting a fair trial". Dr. Burkes-Jones is second in command over 90 D.A.’s Office investigators. "Those first-line police officers go out and they start the case. Once the ball gets rolling and it ends up here at the District Attorney’s Office we kind of pick the case up and run with it."
She’s worked in law enforcement for 31 years. Although, initially her dream was to be a TV news journalist "but I had that country twang. So my degrees are in broadcast journalism. I have a Masters in counseling and held an LPC and went on to get the Doctorate in management."
She also received a Service Award for helping clean up the once-crime-riddled Haverstock Hill Apartments. She was there so much she became well known.
"I got a nickname by the guys there, Lil Mama," she smiles.
Burkes-Jones says she has been a public servant in the community for years, including while working as a D.A.’s Office Mental Health Investigator and helping secure sufficient housing for those recently released.
"Where are these people going when they get out of state hospital and have not been in society for 20, 30 years? You just don’t put them on a bus and drop them off. I would check out the housing, make sure it wasn’t a glorified crack house or some boarding home where they were sleeping on the floor. To make certain even after coming out and committing heinous crimes they can still live humanely. We’re out there helping our community and not just putting people in jail."
Dr. Burkes-Jones, who grew up in Northeast Houston and graduated from Forest Brook High School, hopes girls will see her and be encouraged.
"If they take you and put you in special education for two years in a row that doesn’t mean anything. You can become a doctor, too," says Burkes-Jones.
As it turns out this, Ph.D. didn’t require special classes. She was bored and needed to be challenged by advanced courses.
"Just don’t give up on your dreams. Believe it or not this was not a dream but God made this my blessing".
District Attorney Ogg says, "We have made a commitment to make the District Attorney’s Office more representative of our community as a whole. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, we have made our office stronger, more knowledgeable, and better able to tackle the issues confronting a 21st century District Attorney’s office."
"It gives you hope that you can know and understand there is progression, you can move up, there is no glass ceiling. If you work hard you can get rewarded for hard work," smiles Burkes-Jones.