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Van Jones  

CNN Contributor, Best-selling Author; Human Rights, Education and Clean Energy Advocate

Van Jones is a CNN political contributor, regularly appearing across the network’s programming and special political coverage.

Jones has founded and led numerous social enterprises engaged in social and environmental justice.

These include: – The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which promotes criminal justice reform – Color of Change, which works for racial fairness through its one million members – Rebuild The Dream, a 21st Century “think tank” that champions innovative solutions to fix the U.S. economy and uplift the next generation.

– The Dream Corps, which promotes innovative policy solutions. The Dream Corps’ major initiatives are: #YesWeCode, committed to helping train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to become top-level computer programmers; #cut50, which is working to cut the U.S. prison population in half in the next 10 years; and Green For All, which lifts people out of poverty through green job training and job creation

Jones is a Yale-educated attorney. He is the author of two New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008) and Rebuild the Dream (2012). The second book chronicles his journey as an environmental and human rights activist to becoming a White House policy advisor.

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.

In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to President Barack Obama. In this role, Jones helped to lead the inter-agency process that oversaw the multi-billion dollar investment in skills training and jobs development within the environmental and green energy sectors.

Jones 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 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”; and the Root’s 2014 “The Root 100.” He is presently a fellow at the MIT Media Lab.

AWARDS & HONORS – One of The Root’s 100 Honorees for 2014 – One of National Priorities Project’s 30th Anniversary Democracy Champions – One of Ebony Magazine’s 2013 Power 100 – One of The Root’s 100 Honorees for 2013 – One of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2009 – Recipient of the NAACP’s Image Award – Rolling Stones’ “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done” in 2012 – One of Essence Magazine’s “25 Most Inspiring African Americans” in 2008 – One of Ebony Magazine’s 2011 Power 150 – One of Fast Company’s 12 Most Creative Minds on Earth – Visiting Fellow in Collaborative Economics at Presidio Graduate School – Member of the international Ashoka Fellowship – A 2005 World Economic Forum “Young Global Leader” – Former distinguished visiting professor at Princeton University – Former Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and American Progress Action Fund

LEADERSHIP ON A CLEAN-ENERGY ECONOMY Van is the founder of Green For All, a national organization working to get green jobs to disadvantaged communities. He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act; signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term “green jobs.” Under the Obama administration, it has resulted in $500 million for green job training nationally. He currently serves as a board member of Green for All.

LEADERSHIP ON HUMAN RIGHTS While best known as a pioneer in the environmental movement, Van has been hard at work in social justice for nearly two decades, fashioning solutions to some of urban America’s toughest problems. He is the co-founder of two social justice organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change. He currently serves as a board member of the Ella Baker Center.

BOARD MEMBERSHIPS Van is on the board of several organizations and non-profits, including: Presidio, Campaign for America’s Future, Demos, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice and AFRON African Robotics Network.

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Speech Topics

American Dream 2.0 / Creating an economy that works for everyone

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. To achieve this prosperity, we need to transform our ideas and understanding around ownership and wealth-- transcending consumerism, transforming corporations, and revitalize communities. We need to build institutions that expand and unite these seemingly small and disparate strategies. New economy is not a revolution-- it’s an evolution, a long-term plan that re-imagines capitalism with intent, and creates businesses with conscious design that respects communities and environment.

Rebuild The Dream: The Next American Economy

Right now the American Dream is under siege. Tens of millions of willing workers can’t find jobs. Millions of homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure and millions more are underwater. Instead of investing in our shared future, politicians are giving tax breaks to the rich and then slashing vital services families depend on. Rather than expanding protections for the middle class during these difficult economic times, they’re trying to gut workers’ rights. But a new movement is rising all across America to fight back. It was born among the teachers, students, firefighters and nurses of Wisconsin who took over their Capitol to stop Governor Walker’s power grab. Now it’s spreading as millions of other Americans–inspired by the events in Madison, Wisconsin–stand up to say “No” to right-wing attacks on the middle class. Van Jones called this new wave of energy the “American Dream Movement.” It’s growing stronger by the day, and it’s not going away until Americans can find jobs, afford to go to college, retire with dignity, and secure a future for their children and their communities.

America is NOT broke: Rebuild The Dream

We often hear people say that America is broke. When we look around, families are suffering. Americans are losing their jobs and their homes. Students are forced to take out more loans to pay for ever-rising tuition. But is America really broke? America is still the richest country in the world. American corporations continue to invent new technologies, and Wall Street banks are raking in record profits. So what can we do to restore prosperity, liberty and justice for all - not just for some? The American Dream of opportunity for all is under siege today. But a new movement is rising across the country to fight back. Born in 2011 - the year of economic protest, from Wisconsin to Wall Street - this grassroots stirring is championing the cause of the middle class and all those who aspire to join it.

Green Jobs and Sustainability

Provocative and cutting edge, Van delivers a viable plan for solving the two biggest issues facing the country today—the economy and the environment.

Election 2016 – Protest & Politics In Age Of Twitter

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?

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 Divide

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.

“Beyond Prisons”: Don’t Criminalize – Humanize

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

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.

Rebuild The Dream: The Next American Economy

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.


Emotional Van Jones: How do I explain this to my children?

CNN political commentator Van Jones gets emotional during a panel discussion of a possible Donald Trump presidential upset ...

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