Rancho Santa Fe Association Board President Lois Jones had her largest audience in her nearly three years of service on the board on Jan. 15.
The Lilian project was being discussed and 40 people in attendance were able to see what the self-described "behind-the-scenes" worker who likes to avoid the spotlight was all about.
Jones was fair and firm, allowing all sides to speak but ultimately saying that the most important voices to be heard are the people who live in Rancho Santa Fe. She proposed delaying the board's decision until Feb. 5 to give residents more time to learn about the project.
One woman sitting in the back leaned over to her friend while Jones was speaking and whispered, "She's good."
Later, in an interview, Jones said, "My sole purpose of serving the community is to preserve the community and keep that wonderful atmosphere we all moved here for."
As far as community involvement goes, the 17-year Rancho Santa Fe resident has plenty of experience. While she is entering the home stretch on her association term (it ends in May), she has served for 15 years on the San Dieguito Planning Group, a group that covers the whole river valley from the San Diego city limits to Escondido and up to San Marcos.
"She brings a real insight not only into how our community works but how it relates to the county," said Pete Smith, association manager. "She's been a real benefit to our community."
Getting involved in community planning was simply her way of getting to know people when she moved here with her husband and two children from Orange County, she said.
Jones and her husband Matthew run a food manufacturing company that produces items like the Newman's Own salad dressing line. Jones was the chief financial officer of the company but now considers herself semi-retired.
She is also an avid runner; she's run 10 marathons and plans to race in June's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego. One of her goals when she first started running was to run every single trail in the Covenant. Despite doing ample legwork, she said she's only halfway done.
"There's much to be discovered still," Jones said.
Jones said the interaction with the "stellar" association staff has been the most enjoyable part of her role. "It's a happy place to work," she said. "I've enjoyed the staff immensely."
As president, it's been a mostly quiet stretch until recently, as the Lilian project nears its preliminary decision.
"The Lilian is so enormous," said Jones. "It will impact the village like no other."
Once her term is up she will remain on the San Dieguito board and also plans to continue working with the Friends of San Pasqual Academy, a residential school for foster teens.
And, as if she didn't have enough on her plate, Jones is co-chairing their charity golf tournament on April 9 at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.