Entrepreneur, community champion and philanthropist Yolanda “Londi” Jones died at her Richmond home on Feb. 18, 2021, a two-year battle with cancer. She was 60.
Jones was the president and CEO of Yolanda’s Construction Administration & Traffic Control (YCAT-C) an African-American and woman-owned business offering a wide range of administrative and traffic control services to support public and private sector clients on engineering-construction projects.
Jones started YCAT-C in 2010 with just $200 and two goals in mind: to create a better way of life for her family and to employ men and women from the Bayview Hunter’s Point community where she grew up. She singled-handedly grew YCAT-C to a multi-million dollar company with 14 full-time employees.
In 2012, YCAT-C was named Small Business of the Year by the San Francisco Small Business Network (SFSBN). And in 2013, she was awarded the Business Leader Award by the National Council of Negro (NCNW) at the Golden Gate Section 30th Year Annual Celebration.
Born in San Francisco on Sept. 7, 1960, Jones went to neighborhood schools and graduated from George Washington High School.
Her entrepreneurial spirit showed early with engagement in several small businesses, including a fish-fry eatery that she started with her father, Charles Walker.
“Londi loved her community. She reached in and pulled out under-served men and women out and employed them, so they could have a better way of life,” said Ginger Jones, her niece.
“She believed everyone deserved a chance, so she gave everyone a chance. I don’t know what life will be like without Londi,” she said.
In 2016, YCAT-C made national headlines after Jones won the #PitchLeBronContest, a competition in which small business owners across the U.S. submitted 23-second videos vying for a highly sought after social media mention from A-list athlete Lebron James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jones masterfully used her 23-second pitch to talk about YCAT-C and their commitment to employing men and women from under-served neighborhoods as a pathway out of crime and poverty.
“Lebron I need your help. I’m an African-American, women-owned flagging business in Bayview Hunters Point San Francisco. We place men and women on construction projects to earn a decent living. Put the guns down, put the dope down, pick up a stop sign and earn a decent living,” Jones said, dressed in a construction vest, hard hat and holding up a stop sign.
James commended Jones for her work on his Facebook page, which had over 23 million followers.
“HUGE s/o to CLE Hustles #PitchLeBron winner Yolanda Jones & YCAT Control!! Loved watching the video. Keep going Yolanda, keep changing lives… your passion is inspiring.” James posted.
He also sent out a Tweet congratulating Jones from his Twitter account, which had 32 million followers at the time.
Jones was always able to leverage any publicity: by 2020, prior to the pandemic, Jones employed 50 people, 80% of whom were formerly incarcerated and Black residents of Bayview Hunters Point.
Jones will be remembered for her fearlessness, generosity of spirit and her love for the community.
She was preceded in death by her son, Leonard Bradley Jr.; brother-in-law, Jacoby Jones Sr., her favorite cousin, Hebret Walker, and her bonus son, Charles Johnson, Sr.
She is survived by her husband Rayshean Jones Sr., mother-in-law, Vickie Jones, her children, Geoffrea Morris (Erik), Meiko-Ann Davis, Lyn-Tise Jones (Jeremy), Raysean Jones Jr. and Rome Jones; her bonus children, Ginger Jones, Jamese Jones, JaQuan Jones, Iyshawn Jones, Rayshanae Jones, and LaDante Johnson; her siblings, Charlette Carnegia (Lester), Ruedell Mendoza (Michael), Lorraine Walker and Charles Walker Jr.,
The Jones family has arranged an all-day public viewing Friday, March 5 at Duggan’s Funeral Services, 3434 17th St., San Francisco, CA 94110. Due to COVID restrictions only groups of 20 or fewer are permitted at a time, so the family has booked multiple viewing slots: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.