Happiness Class: Van Jones

Posted by Laura Paulisich on


Van Jones is a social entrepreneur, CNN political contributor and host of The Van Jones Show on CNN. Famous for his heart-felt election night coverage, Jones showed up as “the voice of reason” for people in red states and blue throughout the volatile 2016 political season.

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 over 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. which promotes innovative policy solutions.
  • The Dream Corps, an organization that brings people together to solve America's toughest problems. The Dream Corps' major initiatives are: #YesWeCode, aimed to help 100,000 young women and men from underrepresented backgrounds find success in the tech sector; #cut50,  an initiative focused on making communities safer while reducing the number of people in our prisons and jails. And Green For All, which advances environmental solutions that prioritize families and workers living on the frontlines of some of the worst pollution in America. In response to much civil unrest and energy post election, Jones launched the #Love Army -- a values based movement that is working for an America where everyone counts.
  •  Magic Labs Media, founded by Jones and where he currently serves as its President.

Jones is a Yale-educated attorney. He is the author of three New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008) and Rebuild the Dream (2012) and Beyond The Messy Truth (2017). 

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." In 2017, Van Jones signed a management deal with Roc Nation, becoming the first political commentator & activist in their family. Jones lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife & two children. 



  • 2018 Muhammad Ali Voice of Humanity Honor
  • 2017 Webby Special Achievement Award
  • 2017 Andrew J Young Leadership Award
  • 2017 Honorary doctorate of humane letters from Loyola University
  • 2017 John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- Justice Media Trailblazer
  • 2017 Bill Webber Community Service Award
  • 2017 University of Tennessee’s Top 100 most accomplished graduates
  • 2015 – National Urban League's Toyota Clean Energy Honoree[102]
  • 2015 – Environmental Media Association's Green Biz Global Innovator Award[103]
  • 2015 – Rainbow Push Coalition's 2015 Vanguard Award[104]
  • 2015 – David E. Glover Vanguard Award[105]
  • 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
  • Former MIT Fellow


Van Jones has authored 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." www.vanjones.com


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