Last week, rap stars Jay-Z and Meek Mill unveiled their REFORM Alliance.
In addition to raising $50 million to help reform the criminal justice system, the pair announced that renowned activist and TV personality Van Jones will serve as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
In his role with the REFORM Alliance, Jones will oversee the implementation of the organization’s mission to drastically reduce the number of people who are under control of the criminal justice system while keeping communities safe by changing laws and public opinion.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I have spent my entire adult life preparing myself to help lead an initiative of this magnitude. I’m looking forward to working with this powerful group of founders to disrupt the status quo and shift the criminal justice system landscape for generations to come.” – Van Jones
REFORM is backed by a bi-partisan and diverse group of sports, entertainment and business leaders, including award-winning recording artist Meek Mill; Philadelphia 76ers co-owner and Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin; entrepreneur and business mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter; Kraft Group CEO and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; Brooklyn Nets co-owner and philanthropic investor Clara Wu Tsai; Third Point LLC CEO and founder Daniel S. Loeb; Galaxy Digital CEO and founder Michael E. Novogratz; Vista Equity Partners founder, chairman and CEO Robert F. Smith.
“I don’t think we could find a better person to lead this movement than Van Jones,” said Rubin, who is the co-chairman of the REFORM Alliance alongside Meek Mill. “He has devoted most of his adult life to criminal justice reform and his passion is unparalleled. With the incredible founding partners that we’ve assembled standing alongside Van as our leader, I’m confident that we will make a real difference.”
A Yale-educated attorney, Van Jones has spent nearly 25 years laboring on social change causes, with a recurring focus on criminal justice issues.
Van Jones co-founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in 1996.
Based in Oakland, that organization has been a leading force in criminal justice reform for more than two decades.
The center played a key role in closing five abusive youth prisons in California and blocking the construction of a Super-Jail for youth in Oakland.
In 2013, Van Jones co-founded #cut50, a bipartisan justice reform initiative of the Dream Corps. #cut50 played a vital role in passing criminal justice reform at the federal level last year.
The New York Times called the bill — the First Step Act — the most significant criminal justice breakthrough in a generation.
Van Jones will continue to appear occasionally on CNN and host his bimonthly weekend program on CNN, The Van Jones Show.