Love & Resistance: Van Jones on his Progressive Path Forward

Van Jones
David Gergen
Friday, October 13, 2017 - 4:00pm
Center for Public Leadership

Van Jones
Political Commentator, CNN

David Gergen
Public Service Professor of Public Leadership &
Director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

CNN commentator Van Jones addressed the John F. Kennedy Forum on how the progressive movement should respond and move forward from the past election. Van Jones emphasized the need for patience and understanding on the part of the progressive movement to be able to reevaluate and learn from the results of the past election. Jones believes that more conversations between the left and right will lead to a more united and politically healthy country. This forum was moderated by Public Service Professor of the Harvard Kennedy School, David Gergen.


Panelist Biographies

Van Jones is a CNN political commentator, regularly appearing across the network's programming and special political coverage.
In 2014, Jones launched two brand new initiatives. #cut50 is a bipartisan communications campaign to cut the prison population in half in 10 years -- by forging unlikely alliances, popularizing alternatives to incarceration, and turning the moral and economic catastrophe of mass incarceration into a mainstream, voting issue. #YesWeCode, a national initiative of DreamCorps Unlimited, aims to train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to become high-level computer programmers.
Jones has founded and led four other not-for-profit organizations engaged in social and environmental justice including, Rebuild the Dream, that promotes innovative policy solutions for the U.S. economy; the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights that focuses on economic empowerment and skills training in California; Color of Change, that offers training and guidance on issues related to racial equality and fairness on behalf of communities of color; and Green for All, dedicated to jobs training in the green sector with the goal to help lift people out of poverty. Jones is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress and focuses on policy matters related to green jobs and how cities are implementing job-creating climate solutions.
Jones is a Yale-educated attorney and author of two New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008) and Rebuild the Dream (2012), about his journey as an environmental and human rights activist to becoming a White House policy advisor. 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, he 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.
He has also 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 2013 "The Root 100." 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 2013 "The Root 100."

David Gergen is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, positions he has held for over a decade. In addition, he serves as a senior political analyst for CNN and works actively with a rising generation of new leaders. In the past, he has served as a White House adviser to four U.S. presidents of both parties: Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. He wrote about those experiences in his New York Times best-seller, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

In the 1980s, he began a career in journalism. Starting with the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour in 1984, Professor Gergen has been a regular commentator on public affairs for some 30 years. Twice he has been a member of election coverage teams that won Peabody awards, and he has contributed to two Emmy award-winning political analysis teams. In the late 1980s, he was chief editor of U.S. News & World Report, working with publisher Mort Zuckerman to achieve record gains in circulation and advertising.

Over the years, Professor David Gergen has been active on many non-profit boards, serving in the past on the boards of both Yale and Duke Universities. Among his current boards are The Mission Continues, The Trilateral Commission, and Elon University’s School of Law.

Professor Gergen's work as director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School has enabled him to work closely with a rising generation of younger leaders, especially social entrepreneurs, military veterans and Young Global Leaders chosen by the World Economic Forum. Through the generosity of outside donors, the Center helps to provide scholarships to over 100 students a year, preparing them to serve as leaders for the common good. The Center also promotes scholarship at the frontiers of leadership studies.

A native of North Carolina, Professor Gergen is a member of the D.C. Bar, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the U.S. executive committee for the Trilateral Commission. He is an honors graduate of Yale and the Harvard Law School. He has been awarded 27 honorary degrees.

Professor Gergen has been married since 1967 to Anne Elizabeth Gergen of England, a family therapist. They have two children and five grand-children. Son Christopher is a social entrepreneur in North Carolina as well as an author and member of the Duke faculty. Daughter Katherine is a family doctor, working with the underserved population at the Boston Medical Center.