Reports to: Head of Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley
Appointed: March 2009
Agency or Department that might have handled similar issues: Environmental Protection Agency; Labor
- Will focus on environmentally-friendly employment within the administration and boost support for the idea nationwide.
- Rose from near obscurity in the Oakland, Calif., grassroots organizing scene to the leader of a national movement to spur the green economy.
- Founded Green For All, an organization focused on creating green jobs in impoverished areas.
- Also co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change, which includes Bay Area PoliceWatch, a group devoted to "protect[ing] the community from police misconduct."
- Published New York Times best-seller The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, in October 2008.
- Started career as a prison-reform advocate in Oakland, Calif., lobbying for reform of the juvenile justice system and youth-violence prevention programs.
- Has law degree from Yale.
- 2007: worked on the Green Jobs Act with then-Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), who co-sponsored the bill in the House.
- 1993: was arrested at the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of cops in the Rodney King beating. "I was arrested simply for being a police observer," says Jones, who had just graduated from Yale Law School and was working with the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco.
- 1999: was arrested in the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization.
- Excerpt from a Nov. 2005 interview in the East Bay Express:
Jones had planned to move to Washington, DC, and had already landed a job and an apartment there. But in jail, he said, "I met all these young radical people of color -- I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.'" Although he already had a plane ticket, he decided to stay in San Francisco. "I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary." In the months that followed, he let go of any lingering thoughts that he might fit in with the status quo. "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th," he said. "By August, I was a communist." In 1994, the young activists formed a socialist collective, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, which held study groups on the theories of Marx and Lenin and dreamed of a multiracial socialist utopia. They protested police brutality and got arrested for crashing through police barricades. In 1996, Jones decided to launch his own operation, which he named the Ella Baker Center after an unsung hero of the civil-rights movement.
- How did Van Jones, a self-proclaimed communist become a special advisor to the president?
- Did President Obama know of Van Jones’ radical political beliefs when he named him special advisor?