This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 edition of The Missouri Times Magazine.
At just 24 years old, Sarah Jones joined the Attorney General’s Office as an assistant attorney general of special litigation in August, making her one of the youngest members of the team. It’s an incredible accomplishment for sure, but if you’re acquainted with Sarah at all, you know she’s destined for greatness.
I first met Sarah when we were both living in New York. She hosted a rooftop party in Brooklyn to celebrate, of all things, Kansas City barbeque. They had even flown in Oklahoma Joe’s (Sarah refuses to call it by its new name) for the party.
Sarah’s life story — all that she’s accomplished and overcome in her 25 years — is nothing short of impressive. In fact, she likes to say her life has been “a series of unfortunate events that I somehow capitalized on.”
Born in Springfield, Sarah spent most of her life in the Kansas City area. Her dad was a circuit judge who once made a bid for attorney general; her mom worked in real estate. Both were public servants.
Her collegiate career began with John Brown University in Arkansas, an important place for her family. But by the end of her first year, Sarah knew she wouldn’t be returning to Siloam Springs. Her mother, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, had taken a turn for the worse.
Sarah still remembers that last day in July 2013, an unusual one when much of her extended family just happened to be at her home. Sarah and her sister stepped outside for a quick coffee run when a hospice nurse, who had only come by to drop off paperwork, ran after them, imploring them to come back.
“And she was right,” Sarah said. “We knew it was the beginning of the end, but the beginning of the end. Not the actual end.”
About an hour later, Sarah’s mom, Janice Jones, passed away from complications from pancreatic cancer.
As Sarah told me, the world stopped at the moment. Looking back, she believes she shouldn’t have moved out of her family home to her own apartment in downtown Kansas City just seven days later. She was only 18; she could have taken a semester — or two — off from school.
But if she’s anything, Sarah is undeterred. She forged through the rest of her college career, eventually transferring to Rockhurst University where she graduated and found her path to politics and the law by running the city council campaign for Quinton Lucas, now Kansas City’s mayor. She’s an alumna of the Saint Louis University School of Law.
“What excites me most about the law is that I have always held the belief that the most important part of our society is the law, and the foundation of our society, a civilized society, is not language or anything else,” Sarah said. “Knowing that what I study permeates everything … and knowing that this study is bigger than me and is so powerful — literally life or death in some situations — is an honor.”
“There’s a lot of power that comes with the law, and when it’s utilized correctly, it’s beautiful. When it’s utilized incorrectly, it’s terrifying. And that volatility is really interesting.”
Sarah’s journey brought her to New York in late 2015 where she began to work for an organization focused on government transparency and accountability. While that organization has since changed and become somewhat defunct, it’s there Sarah said she learned the most.
And it’s during that time when the two of us met through a mutual friend, Candice DiLavore.
“Sarah Jones is one of the smartest, kindest, hardest-working people I’ve ever met. Her dedication to the law is inspiring as is her love and grace for those around her. I’m proud to know Sarah and am lucky to call her my friend,” Candice said.
Sarah and I have been friends for a few years now — and a lot of that friendship I’ve spent being in awe of the multifacetedness of the vivacious woman I’ve come to know. She exudes both grace and confidence, is quick to listen but has a litany of outlandish stories to share, she’s affable and intellectual, classy yet down-to-earth.
And she also has this uncanny ability to make you feel as though you’ve been close friends for your entire life.
So yes, she likes to say her story is filled with unfortunate events she has ultimately turned around, but for those who come in contact with Sarah Jones, life is anything but unfortunate. Instead, when you’re in Sarah’s orbit, it’s a sparkling — albeit, at times clumsy — adventure.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.