Ben Jealous is a civil rights leader, community organizer, investor in startups for good, educator, former investigative journalist and a Rhodes Scholar who has spent his life bringing people together to get big things done.
He specializes in building diverse coalitions for change and holding government leaders accountable to the needs of everyday people.
Ben’s Maryland roots go back generations. His grandparents lived in Baltimore, where Ben’s grandfather worked on the B&O Railroad and his grandmother at Planned Parenthood. Ben’s mother grew up in the McCulloh Homes public housing complex in West Baltimore and helped to integrate Western High School in 1954 as a member of the NAACP’s Youth and College Division. Ben’s father was one of a small number of white men jailed during the Congress of Racial Equality’s efforts to desegregate Baltimore’s downtown business district.
Ben grew up spending summers in West Baltimore and has lived in Maryland throughout his career as a civil rights leader and businessman.
Ben has extensive experience as a non-profit executive, serving as the past president of the Rosenberg Foundation, and the founding director of Amnesty International’s U.S. Domestic Human Rights Program.
At age 35, Ben was named the youngest ever National President and CEO of the NAACP. During the depths of a national recession, Ben guided the NAACP through an unprecedented era of growth, nearly doubling the organization’s revenue in just five years. Online activists grew from 175,000 to more than 600,000 while donors increased from 16,000 individuals per year to more than 120,000. The NAACP’s membership increased three years consecutively for the first time in 20 years under Ben’s leadership.
Ben used his background as a community organizer and executive to press the NAACP forward in expanding and protecting the civil rights of all Americans. The NAACP opened national programs focused on education, health and environmental justice and worked on issues related to the economy and voting rights.
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