Benjamin Jealous

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Ben Jealous
Ben Jealous by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Jealous in April 2017
President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
In office
September 1, 2008 – November 1, 2013
Preceded by Dennis Courtland Hayes (Interim)
Succeeded by Lorraine C. Miller (Interim)
Personal details
Born Benjamin Todd Jealous
(1973-01-18) January 18, 1973 (age 44)
Pacific Grove, California, U.S.
Nationality American
  • Lia Epperson (m. 2002–div. 2014)
Alma mater Columbia University (A.B.)
Oxford University (M.A.)

Benjamin Todd Jealous (born January 18, 1973) is an American venture capitalist, civic leader, and former president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He is a partner at Kapor Capital, Board Chairman of the Southern Elections Fund[1] and one of the John L. Weinberg/Goldman Sachs Visiting Professors at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.[2]

Jealous was selected at age 35 as the youngest-ever national leader of the NAACP, he was credited with reviving the organization by Forbes magazine, Time, The Nonprofit Times, and others.[3] In 2013, Jealous was named a Young Global Leader by the Davos World Economic Forum. The Washington Post in 2013 described him as "one of the nation's most prominent civil rights leaders."[4]

In 2014 Jealous became a senior partner at Kapor Capital, a firm that leverages the tech sector to create progressive social change, he also joined the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow.[5][6] He first endorsed Bernie Sanders in his 2016 campaign for U.S. President,[7][8] supporting Hillary Clinton after she was nominated as candidate by the Democratic Party,[9] on May 31, 2017, Jealous declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 2018 Maryland Gubernatorial Election in Baltimore, Maryland.[10]

Childhood and education[edit]

Ben Jealous was born in 1973 in Pacific Grove, California and grew up on the Monterey Peninsula, his mother, Ann (Todd) Jealous, is black. She worked as a psychotherapist and had grown up in Baltimore, Maryland, she had participated there in the desegregation of Western High School. She is the author, with Caroline Haskell, of Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief about Racism (2013). His father, Fred Jealous, is white and from New England, he founded the Breakthrough Men's Community and participated in Baltimore sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters.[11] Jealous' parents met in Baltimore, as an interracial couple, they were prohibited by state law from marrying in Maryland before 1967. They married in Washington, DC and returned to live in Baltimore for a time before moving to California in the early 1970s,[12] as a child, Jealous was sent to Baltimore to spend his summers with his maternal grandparents, who lived in the Ashburton neighborhood.

Jealous holds a B.A. in political science from Columbia University. He was a Rhodes Scholar and earned a master's degree in comparative social research from the University of Oxford.

Early activism[edit]

At Columbia University, Jealous began working as an organizer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, as a student, he protested the university's plan to turn the site of Malcolm X's assassination into a research facility and was suspended. During his suspension, Jealous traveled through the South, during this time Mississippi's three black colleges were slated to be closed because of financial difficulties. Jealous organized with the local NAACP chapter to keep them fully funded and maintain their operations.

While in Mississippi, Jealous began working as a reporter for Jackson Advocate, Mississippi's oldest historically black newspaper, under the tutelage of publisher Charles Tisdale. He eventually became its managing editor, his reporting was credited with exposing corruption among high-ranking officials at the state prison in Parchman. In addition, he helped acquit a small farmer who had been wrongfully accused of arson. Jealous returned to Columbia in 1997, where he applied for and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.[13]

After completing his degree at Oxford and returning to the US, Jealous worked as Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers. During his term, he relocated the organization's editorial office to Howard University in Washington, DC, he set up an online syndicated news service that shared content with all of the organization's member papers.

After the NNPA, he served as director of the US Human Rights Program at Amnesty International, he focused on issues such as promoting federal legislation against prison rape, racial profiling, and the sentencing of persons to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) who are convicted for acts committed as children. (In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that such sentencing was unconstitutional, and ordered its ruling to be applied to people already in prison.) Jealous is the lead author of the 2004 report "Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in the United States."[14]

Jealous accepted a position as President of the Rosenberg Foundation, a private foundation located in San Francisco, CA.


Jealous speaking in 2009.

Jealous was elected in 2008 as President and CEO of the NAACP; at age 35, he was the youngest person to serve in that position. He served through 2012, during his term, Jealous initiated national programs on criminal justice, health, environmental justice and voting rights, expanded existing programs and opened the NAACP Financial Freedom Center to provide financial education and banking resources.[15]

During his tenure, the NAACP helped register 374,553 voters and mobilize 1.2 million new voters to turn out at the polls for the 2012 presidential election. It supported abolition of the death penalty in Connecticut and Maryland, endorsed same-sex marriage, and fought laws it believed were intended for voter suppression in states across the country.

During Jealous' tenure, the number of NAACP's online activists increased from 175,000 to more than 675,000; its donors increased from 16,000 individuals to more than 132,000; and the number of total NAACP activists was 1.7 million.[16][17]

Coalition building[edit]

Jealous led the NAACP to work closely with other civil rights, labor and environmental groups; in 2010 the NAACP was one of the conveners of the One Nation Working Together Rally, which Jealous referred to as "an antidote" to the Tea Party.[18] In June 2012, the NAACP led several thousand protesters from different groups to march down New York City's Fifth Avenue in protest of the NYPD's policy of stop-and-frisk policing;[19] in 2012 Jealous formed the Democracy Initiative along with other progressive leaders, to build a national campaign around three goals: getting big money out of politics, supporting voting rights, and reforming broken Senate rules.[20] Finally, in 2013 Jealous gave the keynote address at the A10 Rally for Citizenship, a major rally for immigration reform at the US Capitol.[21]

Jealous broadened the NAACP's alliances; in 2011 he spoke at the National Press Club with conservatives including Grover Norquist; David Keene, former American Conservative Union President; and Republican representative Newt Gingrich. They endorsed the NAACP's report, Misplaced Priorities: Over Incarcerate, Under Educate. about the high rate of incarceration in the US and its cost to society on multiple levels.[22] In Texas later that year, the NAACP worked with leaders of the Tea Party to pass a dozen criminal justice reform measures, leading to the first scheduled prison closure in state history.[23] Similarly, in 2013, the NAACP worked closely with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to pass bipartisan voting rights reform that gave former offenders the chance to vote after they served the terms of their sentence.[24]

Upon announcing his resignation in 2013, Jealous was praised by activists for his coalition-building efforts.[25][26]

Jealous was noted for reviving and building the resources of the NAACP. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, he was:

...credited with infusing the organization, once seen as graying and vulnerable, with energy, modernity… On his watch over the past five years, the group doubled its budget and national staff, thanks to sometimes explosive growth in fundraising. It shook off years of scandal and torpor, racked up victories in city halls and statehouses, and registered hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, as Mr. Jealous, 40, this week announces his resignation… he leaves a road map for reinvigorating nonprofit advocacy.[27]

2018 Maryland gubernatorial election campaign[edit]

On May 31, 2017, Jealous announced his candidacy for Governor of Maryland in the 2018 election, currently held by Larry Hogan (R).[28]

Awards and honors[edit]

Jealous has earned the following awards and honors for his activism:

  • In March 2009, Jealous received the John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement from Columbia College and spoke as the Class Day speaker at Columbia University.[29]
  • On October 13, 2010, Jealous was named to Time magazine's "40 Under 40" rising stars of American politics.[30]
  • In 2010 and 2011, Jealous was named to the Nonprofit Times "Power & Influence Top 50" list.[31]
  • On October 11, 2012, Jealous was named to Fortune magazine's "40 Under 40" list.[32]
  • On September 19, 2012, Jealous was ranked #3 on The 2012 Root Top 100 list.[33]
  • In December 2012, Jealous was awarded the 2012 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, which is given annually to an individual who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, and socially responsible work of significance.[34]
  • In March 2013, Jealous was named a Young Global Leader by the Davos World Economic Forum.[35]
  • On September 25, 2013, Jealous was ranked #1 on The 2013 Root Top 100 list.[36]
  • On December 28, 2013, Jealous was named Marylander of The Year by the Baltimore Sun.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Board.
  2. ^ "Former President and CEO of NAACP to Join the Woodrow Wilson School as Visiting Professor and Lecturer". Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ Roland, Martin. "35-Year-Old Chosen to Lead the NAACP". CNN. Archived from the original on March 26, 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  4. ^ Thompson, Krissah (September 8, 2013). "Benjamin Jealous, president of NAACP, discusses decision to step down in January". Washington Post. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  5. ^ Sanchez, Nicole. "Ben Jealous is joining our staff!". Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Center for American Progress. "RELEASE: Benjamin Jealous Joins the Center for American Progress as Senior Fellow". Center for American Progress. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ Alcindor, Yamiche. "Bernie Sanders Gets Backing From Former N.A.A.C.P Chief and a Nevada Union". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  8. ^ Wagner, John. "Former NAACP leader Ben Jealous to endorse Bernie Sanders". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Dresser, Michael. "Ex-NAACP chief Ben Jealous announces candidacy for Maryland governor". Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  11. ^ Reddy, Sumanthi (September 28, 2008). "Young Man Moves Up". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  12. ^ Hond, Paul. "Justice's Son" (Spring 2013). Columbia University Magazine. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  13. ^ Serwer, Adam (February 16, 2009). "The Other Black President". The American Prospect. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  14. ^ Jealous, Benjamin. "Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in the United States" (PDF). Amnesy USA. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  15. ^ NAACP (April 4, 2011). "NAACP Opens Financial Center to Provide Financial Education and Freedom". NAACP. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  16. ^ Love, David (September 9, 2013). "What Will NAACP President Ben Jealous' Legacy Be?". The Grio. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Benjamin Jealous Leaves the NAACP a Far Stronger Place". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved October 19, 2015. 
  18. ^ Bacon, John (October 2, 2010). ""One Nation" Rally Offers "Antidote" to Tea Party". USA Today. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Thousands Hold Silent March to Mayor Bloomberg's Home in Protest of NYPD's 'Stop-and-Frisk'". Democracy Now. June 18, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  20. ^ Leland, John (June 17, 2012). "Thousands March Silently to Protest Stop-and-Frisk Policies". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  21. ^ Hesson, Ted. "Why the NAACP Gets Top Billing at an Immigration Rally". Fusion Beta. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  23. ^ Weigel, David (January 26, 2012). "Two Questions for Ben Jealous, President of the NAACP". Slate. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  24. ^ Richmond-Times Dispatch (May 31, 2013). "NAACP Leader, McDonnell Praise Cooperation on Rights Initiative". Richmond-Times Dispatch. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  25. ^ Wells, Carrie (September 8, 2013). "NAACP President Ben Jealous to Resign". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  26. ^ Brunne, Michael. "Sierra Club Statement on NAACP's Ben Jealous". Sierra Club. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  27. ^ Anft, Michael (8 September 2013). "NAACP Leader Departs After 5 Years". The Chronicle Of Philanthropy. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  28. ^ Dresser, Michael (June 2, 2017). "Ex-NAACP chief Ben Jealous announces candidacy for Maryland governor". Baltimore Sun. 
  29. ^ Columbia College. "Five Alumni Presented with John Jay Awards". Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  30. ^ "40 Under 40 (Ben Jealous)". Time. October 13, 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  31. ^ Clolery, Paul. "The NonProfit Time Power and Influence: Top 50- '11" (PDF) (2011). The NonProfit Times. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  32. ^ "40 Under 40". Fortune. October 11, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  33. ^ Salomon, Sheryl Huggins (September 19, 2012). "100 Black Influencers to Know in 2012". The Root. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  34. ^ Puffin Nation. "Benjamin Jealous | 2012 Recipient". Puffin Nation. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  35. ^ World Economic Forum. "Young Global Leaders" (PDF) (2013). Davos World Economic Forum. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  36. ^ The Root Staff (June 7, 2013). "Root Top 100" (2013). The Root. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  37. ^ Baltimore Sun (December 28, 2013). "Marylander of the Year: Ben Jealous" (2013). The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 

External links[edit]