(born September 20, 1968) is an American news commentator, author, and lawyer. He is the co-founder of several non-profit organizations, a three-time New York Times bestselling author, a CNN host and contributor, and an Emmy Award winner.
Jones served as President Barack Obama‘s Special Advisor for Green Jobs in 2009 and a distinguished visiting fellow at Princeton University. He founded or co-founded several non-profit organizations, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and the Dream Corps. The Dream Corps is a social justice accelerator that operates three advocacy initiatives: #cut50, #YesWeCode and Green for All.
Jones has hosted or co-hosted CNN shows including Crossfire, The Messy Truth, The Van Jones Show and The Redemption Project with Van Jones. He is the author of The Green Collar Economy, Rebuild the Dream, and Beyond the Messy Truth; all three books rank as New York Times bestsellers. He is the co-founder of Magic Labs Media LLC, a producer of the WEBBY Award-winning Messy Truth digital series and Emmy Award-winning The Messy Truth VR Experience with Van Jones. He is a regular CNN political commentator.
Jones led the fight to pass the bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation known as the First Step Act. Jones is currently CEO of the REFORM Alliance, an initiative founded by Jay-Z and Meek Mill to transform the criminal justice system. He was also a longtime colleague of, and advisor to, musician Prince.
In June 2011, Jones worked with MoveOn.org to launch the Rebuild the Dream campaign, which was intended to start a progressive American Dream movement to counter the Tea Party movement. Following a kickoff on June 23, 2011, Rebuild the Dream announced a “Contract for the American Dream”, intended as a counter to the Tea Party-supported “Contract from America“, and held house meetings in July. It was intended “to give the progressive mass movement that rose up to elect Barack Obama a new banner to march under.” The launch included performances by The Roots and a DJ set by artist Shepard Fairey. In August 2012 Prince announced a series of concerts in Chicago to support Rebuild the Dream. Prince went on The View with Jones and Rosario Dawson to promote the concerts. Jones claimed 127,000 people had become involved in the movement by the end of July 2011.
In April 2012 Jones published his second book, titled Rebuild the Dream. It debuted at number 16 on the New York Times Best-Seller list.
In June 2013, Jones was announced as a co-host of a re-boot of the CNN political debate show Crossfire, alongside Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Cutter and S.E. Cupp. The new version of Crossfire made its debut on September 16, 2013, but the show had been canceled by October 2014.
In 2016, Jones launched The Messy Truth, a news feature documentary series and subsequent studio discussion series, The Messy Truth with Van Jones, which aired in 2017 on CNN. In 2018, Jones launched The Van Jones Show on CNN, with Jay-Z as his first guest.
In 2019 Jones launched The Redemption Project with Van Jones, a show focused on restorative justice and bringing “offenders face to face with the people most affected by their violent crimes.”
Jones is President of The Dream Corps,] a “social enterprise and incubator for powerful ideas and innovations designed to uplift and empower the most vulnerable in our society.” The Dream Corps owns and operates several advocacy projects, including Green for All, #cut50, and #YesWeCode.
In 2015, Jones launched #cut50, an organization focused on bi-partisan solutions to criminal justice reform issues. In March 2015 #cut50 hosted a “bi-partisan summit” with Republican Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, to promote bi-partisan solutions. Their goals are to reduce prison populations, as the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and to end mandatory minimum sentencing and mandatory lengthy sentences for certain crimes.
In November 2015, #cut50 gained the support of singer Alicia Keys. In 2016, Keys made a video appeal to Congressman Paul Ryan asking him to “be her Valentine” and commit to giving legislation on criminal justice reform a vote. Ryan made this commitment days later. #cut50 received additional celebrity support from “100 A-List celebrities” including Amy Schumer, Steph Curry, Edward Norton, Jesse Williams, Chris Pine, Russell Simmons, Shonda Rhimes, Russell Brand, Jessica Chastain, and Piper Kerman.
In May 2018, Jones, and other members of #cut50 met with Jared Kushner and President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss a criminal justice reform bill.
In 2019, Jones was announced as the CEO of the REFORM Alliance, an initiative founded by Jay-Z, Meek Mill, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft among others. The initiative aims to reform the criminal justice system, and has received funding from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.