In November 2022, Benjamin Todd Jealous was named the executive director of the Sierra Club, the first person of color to hold the position. He is also a partner at Kapor Capital, where he invests in social impact tech startups that narrow gaps in opportunity and access for underrepresented communities and eliminate barriers to full participation across the tech ecosystem.
“Let us nurture the practice of family values, by embracing policies that value families.”
– Ben Jealous
A Columbia University graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Jealous was named to Forbes and Time “40 Under 40” lists in 2013. The same year The Washington Post dubbed him “one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders,” and the Davos World Economic Forum recognized him as a “Young Global Leader.”
In 2008, Jealous became president and CEO of the NAACP, the youngest person to serve in the position at 35. For five years, he led the NAACP to successfully initiate movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and free multiple wrongfully incarcerated people. He also opened the NAACP Financial Freedom Center for financial education and banking resources. Under his leadership, the NAACP grew into the largest civil rights organization in U.S. history; experienced its first multi-year membership increase in 20 years through a highly effective digital growth strategy; and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country.
Before the NAACP, Jealous spent 15 years as a journalist and community organizer during and after university. At Mississippi’s Jackson Advocate, the state’s oldest historically black newspaper, he rose from reporter to managing editor with investigative reporting credited with exposing corruption among high-ranking officials at a state penitentiary; and proving the innocence of a black farmer who was framed for arson.
After completing his Oxford University degree, Jealous worked as executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers. He set up an online syndicated news service that shared content with all of the organization’s member papers and relocated the organization’s editorial office to Howard University in Washington, D.C, during his term.
Jealous also served as director of Amnesty International. He focused on 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.
Jealous lives in his hometown of Monterey Bay. He serves as an advisor to multiple tech startups and is committed to closing the gaps in financial inclusion, justice tech, and low-wage work, and is a board member at Pigeonly and a board advisor at PayNearMe. Jealous is also the lead author of the 2004 report “Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in the United States”; and “Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding,” a book of personal essays edited by Jealous and Trabian Shorters. Jealous’ latest book, Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing was released in January of 2023.