CNN Host & President of Magic Labs Media
Van Jones is the Founder and President of President of Magic Labs Media, the award-winning production company developing stories at the intersection of race, culture, social justice, and politics. He is also well known as a CNN host, political commentator, Emmy Award-winning producer, and author of three New York Times best-selling books: The Green Collar Economy, Rebuild the Dream, and Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together.
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.
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 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 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”, TIME’s “100 Most Influential People in The World”, the NAACP Image Award, a Webby Special Achievement Award, a Lumiere Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.
Conventional wisdom holds that America is hopelessly divided. Endless partisan warfare has left people in frustration and despair across the political spectrum.
But Van Jones sees a way out. He has found a way to bridge divides, solve tough problems and win big — even on issues as traditionally polarizing as criminal justice reform and climate solutions.
Van’s bridge-building track record is practically unmatched. He moved the Bush, Obama, AND Trump administrations to take powerful action to aid the downtrodden. (That’s right: he is a rare Democrat who got the last two Republican presidents to sign legislation he championed.)
And he has used his CNN shows and Amazon Podcast to talk with people across every conceivable divide.
Van’s success at the grassroots level is just as inspiring. In blue states, Van brought people together to close prisons and reform police departments. In red states, he helped U.S. coal miners beat the coal industry and save their pensions and health care.
How does he do it? What can we learn from his track record?
In this talk, Van shares fascinating, behind-the-scenes tales of bridging impossible divides — from the streets to the suites. And he reveals his secrets and principles for getting Americans to come together — even those who would rather tear each other apart.
No matter where you stand on the political spectrum: Van’s stories will surprise, affirm and challenge you. And especially if your campus, company, or conference is dealing with internal conflicts and divisions, Van’s speech will help heal divides and restore hope.
Former Obama advisor and CNN personality Van Jones created #YesWeCode to find real solutions. Housed at Dream Corps Unlimited, #YesWeCode is working to help 100,000 young adults of color – both women and men – find employment in the technology sector.
Learn from the many insights that Van has gleaned by working directly with dozens of major tech firms, the Obama White House, and the nation’s top accelerated training programs. Hear how cultural barriers – on both sides of the divide – may be the biggest obstacles to an inclusive tech sector.
Van has unique insight into America’s turbulent political scene. He has worked closely with political players at all levels – and across the spectrum. On the left, he has been allied with everyone from Richard Branson to Black Lives Matter. On the right, he has campaigned to win criminal justice reform alongside Newt Gingrich and Koch Industries. George W. Bush signed his first legislative proposal, the Green Jobs Act. Then President Obama appointed him to be special advisor on green jobs. Most recently, Van was "on the ground" in Ferguson, Charleston and Selma (for the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march there).
Imagine a new economy, where the founding principle of our country— liberty and justice for all—is deeply rooted in our economic philosophy and design, where businesses can profit alongside flourishing communities. The next American economy must value production over consumption, savings over credit and ecological restoration over ecological destruction. To achieve sustained prosperity, we need to transform our ideas and understanding around ownership and wealth—transcending consumerism, transforming corporations, and revitalizing communities.
Civil rights attorney and TV personality Van Jones seeks peaceful streets through approaches that are smarter, fairer and less costly. His organization, Dream Corps Unlimited, houses the Beyond Prisons campaign. That initiative works to safely and smartly reduce the prison population by at least 50 percent – by promoting proven, bipartisan solutions. Neither Democrats nor Republicans see much sense in locking people away for long periods of time, often for petty offenses, and then denying them a chance to work, vote, rent an apartment or get a student loan for the rest of their lives.
The solar industry is booming. The fight for climate solutions is accelerating. The movement for a greener future is regaining steam. But will this renewed “green wave” lift ALL boats? Or will some places enjoy clean energy, green jobs and organic food, while others fall further behind? How can we avoid “ecological apartheid”? Van Jones has answers. He was the primary advocate for the Green Jobs Act of 2007. He is the founder of Green For All, a national organization working to grow the green economy in communities of color. He wrote the bestseller, The Green-Collar Economy – the definitive book on green jobs. And he was the special advisor on green jobs and innovation to the Obama White House.
The USA has only five percent of the world’s population. Yet we produce: (a) about 25 percent of its greenhouse gasses and (b) about 25 percent of its prisoners. Coincidence? Van Jones doesn’t think so. He sees “mass incarceration” and the “mass extinction” as twin outcomes of the same false ideology: disposability. Industrial society behaves as if we have a throwaway planet – and throwaway people, too. To reverse course, Van says we must shrink the prison system and grow the green economy.
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.