Van Jones

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Emmy Award-Winning Producer, Social Entrepreneur, & CNN Host

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Van Jones: Biography at a Glance

  • Van Jones is an Emmy Award-winning producer, CNN host, political commentator, 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.
  • Van is also an important voice on social justice and STEM education, having launched the #YesWeCode initiative which aims to help 100,000 young people from underrepresented backgrounds find success in the tech sector.
  • He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act and as Green Jobs Advisor to the Obama White House, Jones oversaw an $80 billion dollar investment in clean energy jobs.
  • 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.

Videos

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, 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.

Topics

“Beyond Prisons”: Don’t Criminalize – Humanizearrow-down

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.

“Green Jobs Not Jails”: Criminal Justice + Ecology arrow-down

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.

Protest & Politics In Age Of Twitter arrow-down

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).

“Green For All”: Can Environmentalism Include Everyone?arrow-down

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.

#YesWeCode: Race, Gender & The Digital Dividearrow-down

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.

Rebuild The Dream: The Next American Economyarrow-down

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.

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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
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