Alum finds her place in public service

photo of a woman on a beach
India Adams-Jacobs. Photo provided

During her time at George Mason University, India Adams-Jacobs, BS Public Administration ’12, discovered her passion for local government and public service.

“My entire career has been in public service,” said Adams-Jacobs, who is the town manager in Colonial Beach, Virginia. “Everywhere I’ve lived and served, I’ve helped make that community a little better through my work.”

Adams-Jacobs was an International City/County Management Association Local Government Management Fellow in Albemarle County, Virginia, and Tacoma, Washington, and held positions in several other cities, all of which prepared her for her current job.

In Colonial Beach, Adams-Jacobs oversees the day-to-day operations of the town, its 58 employees, and a budget of more than $8 million. She is leading the implementation of the town’s first strategic plan and is director of emergency management.

woman facilitating a meeting
India Adams-Jacobs was an International City/County Management Association Local Government Management Fellow in Tacoma, Washington before taking the job in Colonial Beach. Photo provided

Originally from Bowling Green, Virginia, Adams-Jacobs chose Mason because of the diversity on campus. She loved seeing the flags of different nations in the Johnson Center, and she had roommates and classmates from places such as Morocco and Somalia. She also fulfilled her dream to be a Division I athlete by earning a walk-on spot on the university’s softball team.

Studying abroad in Greece and Turkey further confirmed for Adams-Jacobs that differences are not hindrances to cooperation. “Having these international experiences gave me a broader understanding of how we’re all interconnected,” she said.

Also important to her were classes in the Schar School of Policy and Government. She says one government class taught by former congressmen Jim Moran and Tom Davis focused on how governing really happens “in the middle.”

“While many of my classmates looked to serve at the federal level due to our proximity to D.C., I was drawn to local government because it was closest to the people and where I felt I could make the most direct impact,” she said.

An internship at the county administrator’s office in her native Caroline County added to her certainty.

“I realized I could be involved with anything on any given day, from researching how to retain records through the state library, to figuring out how to work on an insurance claim when a police car hit a deer, to human resources and economic development,” Adams-Jacobs said.

While she studied for her master of public administration degree at Virginia Tech, Adams-Jacobs became the first African American selected to serve as the university’s General Assembly Fellow with the president’s office of government relations.

She is a member of the board of Mason’s Black Alumni Chapter, and said she is looking forward to having a chance to share her experience with other current and future alumni.

It is a journey that began at Mason. “Mason has everything you would want in an institution—faculty and staff that really look out for you, that really care about your well-being and your development as a person who can make a contribution to our global community.”