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Ben Jealous

Former President

Ben Jealous, a civil rights leader, organizer, scholar, and journalist, has served as president of People For the American Way since 2020. He is Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Never Forget Our People Were Always Free, a reflection on our racial divisions and how to overcome them, forthcoming from HarperCollins.

Jealous has led successful campaigns centered around voting rights, racial equity, and criminal justice. Under his leadership, People For the American Way encouraged and equipped nearly two million Black men who had stopped voting to cast a ballot in the 2020 elections. He led efforts to mobilize a multiracial, interfaith coalition of voting rights activists to urge the White House to intensify its efforts to pass federal voting rights legislation. And he led the creation of People For the American Way’s All Safe campaign to transform public safety nationwide, which has developed a policy roadmap to making communities safer and policing more just, and is now working with local public officials to put those policies into practice.

Jealous was credited with rejuvenating the national NAACP when he served as its youngest president and CEO from 2008 to 2013. A noted coalition builder, Jealous created pathbreaking partnerships with conservative leaders and Republican governors to help shrink America’s prison system as well as expand voting rights and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. He also provided leadership to successful statewide coalition efforts to promote marriage equality, abolish the death penalty, and pass the DREAM Act. In 2013, the Baltimore Sun named him Marylander of the Year and the Washington Post called him “one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders.” Jealous was the 2018 Democratic Party nominee for governor of Maryland.

Jealous served for five years as a senior partner at Kapor Capital, a social impact firm that invests in entrepreneurs and companies whose innovations contribute to a more equitable world. He previously served as executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is co-editor of the New York Times best-selling book Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding.

Jealous has repeatedly been named to The NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top Fifty, most recently in 2022.

He lives with his children, Morgan and Jack, and their dog Charlie, on the Chesapeake Bay.



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