Van Jones

Van Jones

Former White House environmental adviser, CNN political commentator and social entrepreneur Van Jones opened the fall 2016 Assembly Series at Washington University.

His talk, “Green Jobs Not Jails: Criminal Justice Reform, Racial Equity, and the Green Economy,” part of the Student Union Trending Topics series, was held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 in Graham Chapel.

The Yale-educated lawyer has worked for two decades to advance his twin goals for improving the environment and tackling social justice challenges. He came into the public eye in 2008 when he was named the inaugural “green czar” by President Obama. In that capacity, Jones led the inter-agency process overseeing the government’s multi-billion dollar investment in skills training and jobs development within the environmental and energy sectors.

Before serving as adviser to President Obama, Jones had been an outspoken advocate for the Green Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2007. He also founded Green for All, a national organization whose mission is to create green jobs in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Other social justice organizations he co-founded are the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Color of Change. Both organizations provide a way for people to make positive changes and reduce the negative factors that bring communities down. Jones also created a modern think tank called Rebuild the Dream, which seeks innovative solutions for a growing economy, as well as Dream Corps, a social justice accelerator.

Jones is the author of two bestselling books: “The Green Collar Economy” and “Rebuild the Dream.” Both are available at the Campus Store.

Co-sponsors for this program include Washington University’s Office of Sustainability, Environmental Studies, Public Interest Law & Policy Speakers Series, and Law Identity & Culture Initiative.