At a Glance

Van Jones : Biography at a Glance

  • Van Jones is a CNN host, political commentator, Emmy Award-winning producer, and author of three New York Times best-selling books
  • He is also a successful social entrepreneur, having founded and led many thriving enterprises including the REFORM Alliance, Color of Change, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Dream Corps.
  • As Green Jobs Advisor to the Obama White House, Jones oversaw an $80 billion dollar investment in clean energy jobs. 
  • He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act. Signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Green Jobs Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term “green jobs.” During the Obama Administration, the legislation has resulted in $500 million in national funding for green jobs training.
  • Van has been honored with numerous awards and spotlighted on several lists of high achievers, including the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; TIME’s “100 Most Influential People in The World”; and the Root's "The Root 100."
  • Became one of the wealthiest Black philanthropists in the world after receiving the Courage and Civility Award and its $100 million prize from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2021
Biography

Van Jones is a CNN host, political commentator, Emmy Award-winning producer, and author of three New York Times best-selling books: The Green Collar Economy (2008), Rebuild the Dream (2012), and Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together (2017).  

Van has also found success as a social entrepreneur, having founded and led many thriving enterprises including the REFORM Alliance, Color of Change, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Dream Corps, which works to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity in the green and tech economies. 

In 2009, as the Green Jobs Advisor to the Obama White House, Jones oversaw an $80 billion dollar investment in clean energy jobs. 

Jones was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act. Signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Green Jobs Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term "green jobs." During the Obama Administration, the legislation has resulted in $500 million in national funding for green jobs training. 

Jones has stewarded several bipartisan legislative and advocacy efforts, racking up wins under the last four US Presidents: Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. Jones’ most recent victory was advocating successfully for the passage of the FIRST STEP Act, which the New York Times calls the most substantial breakthrough in criminal justice in a generation. 

A Yale-educated attorney, Jones has won numerous awards, including the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation, Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”, TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”, the 2010 NAACP Image Award, a 2017 WEBBY Special Achievement Award, a 2019 Lumiere Award and a 2020 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. 

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Reviews

Van's commitment to use his voice and platform to promote the humanity of Black people has helped elevate the lived Black experience, influence changes that address racial inequity and restore justice for marginalized communities.
 

Microsoft

His combination of green jobs and prison reform made me feel hopeful about the state of our country. It provided a solution to a complex problem. He gave me goosebumps in a great way.

Tulane University

The students' response to Van's words and presence has been nothing less than marvelous. His visit was timely and he spoke to the experiences of young people today.

University of California, Santa Cruz

He was terrific! He was incredibly generous with his time. He gave a wonderful lecture and was entertaining, thought-provoking and honest. It was a really special night.

University of Iowa

Van Jones was inspiring to everyone involved and his words and presence will continue to resonate throughout this community and state. His wonderful ability to push for further progress through a thoughtful embrace of ideas, observations and gentle but clear challenge is catalytic.

Council For Children’s Rights

I was pleased and proud to witness so many guests deep in conversations about the important issues that Van addressed in his Q&A sessions and keynote address. We had hoped his lecture would be fuel for a healthy debate and discussion. It surely was.

University of Denver

It was great. A really diverse group of students, faculty members and community members came out. We’ve already gotten a lot of feedback from people who really enjoyed the event and felt pushed in their thinking around the topic.

Stanford University

Excellent. Van tailored his remarks and his approach very thoughtfully to the different audiences at our three events. He was inspiring and substantive and beyond generous with his time and energy.

Washington University

Van was TERRIFIC!! His presentation left an indelible mark on our students, and I feel that Mr. Jones has sealed a place in our institution’s cadre of legendary speakers!

Morehouse College

People came away feeling more hopeful for the political future. Highly recommend as a speaker.

Salt Lake Community College

Van was so amazing and so many people want him back!!

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