Ben Jealous


President, People for the American Way (2020-Present)

President/CEO, NAACP (2008-2013)

President, Rosenberg Foundation (2005-2008)

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

Ben Jealous is a political activist, president of the left-of-center advocacy group People for the American Way (PFAW) and People for the American Way Foundation, and the former president and CEO of the NAACP. 1 In 2018, he was the Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Maryland, losing to incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan by more than 273,000 votes. 2

Activist Career

Early Career

Jealous entered political activism while attending Columbia University as an organizer in Harlem with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (now the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund). He was suspended from the university for organizing student protests and left to work as a reporter for the Jackson Advocate in Mississippi. 3

From 1999 to 2002, Jealous was executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. In July 2002 he left to direct Amnesty International’s U.S. Human Rights Program until June 2005, when he departed to become president of the left-of-center Rosenberg Foundation in San Francisco, California. 4


Also see NAACP (Nonprofit)

In 2008, Jealous was hired to lead the NAACP at age 35 as the organization’s youngest-ever president and CEO. 5 Over the five years he led the organization it reportedly grew its base of online activists and donors. The organization focused on left-wing social-policy issues, including opposing state voter ID laws and New York City’s stop-and-frisk policing policy while supporting same-sex marriage and passage of President Barack Obama‘s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The NAACP also registered some 374,000 voters and mobilized 1.2 million new voters to the polls. 6

Later Career

In 2013 Jealous left the NAACP to become a partner at Kapor Capital, an Oakland, California-based capital investment firm that invests in companies led by women, transgender people, or “an underrepresented person of color.”7 Kapor Capital was founded in 1999 by Mitchell Kapor, a tech entrepreneur, creator of the open source web browser Firefox, and major Democratic Party donor. 8 Jealous stayed with the firm until 2019.

From 2016 to 2018 he taught “social entrepreneurship” as a Princeton University visiting professor. He became a visiting scholar teaching “social innovation and leadership” for the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication in January 2020. 9

People for the American Way (PFAW)

Also see People for the American Way (Nonprofit)

In June 2020, Jeaous became president of People for the American Way (PFAW) and its 501(c)(3) arm, People for the American Way Foundation. 10

2018 Maryland Gubernatorial Campaign

Jealous announced his candidacy for the 2018 Maryland Governor’s race on May 31, 2017, seeking to unseat incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who was seeking reelection. 11 Jealous won the Democratic Party primary against 7 opponents, garnering 40.9 percent of the primary vote (231,895 votes). Hogan was unopposed in the Republican Party primary. 12

Jealous’s running mate was Susan Turnbull, a left-of-center political activist and former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). 13

Jealous was endorsed by a host of Democratic Party politicians, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden; U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (MD), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Bernie Sanders (VT), Kamala Harris (CA), and Cory Booker (NJ); and Maryland Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes. 14 15 He also received endorsements from a host of left-wing groups, including, the Communication Workers of America (CWA), Justice Democrats, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Maryland Working Families Party. 16 17

Jealous’ campaign included promises of college tuition benefits for illegal immigrants, government-paid college tuition, a Medicare-for-All state-government-run health care system, a state minimum wage of $15 per hour, and legalization of marijuana. 18

Ultimately Jealous lost to Hogan by 273,005 votes, a margin of 11.9 percent. 19 The day after the race, the left-of-center website The Intercept blamed his loss on poor fundraising, noting that his platform was “one of the most left-wing policy platforms in the country” yet claiming most Marylanders agreed on his major points. 20

Policy and Candidate Endorsements

2016 Presidential Race

In 2016, Jealous endorsed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Democratic Primary in his campaign against Hillary Clinton. 21

Election Administration

Jealous has voices opposition to state voter integrity bills requiring ID to vote, limiting early voting and absentee voting, and restricting voting by mail in future elections. 22

Jealous supported passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) in 2021, a far-left proposal by Congressional Democrats to federalize elections, curb First Amendment free speech rights in election campaigns, and restrict state voter integrity laws. 23

Comments on Dark Money

Jealous has been outspoken about the influence of money in politics, calling it the biggest challenge facing the United States and voicing support for an amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision. 2425 Jealous is an avid proponent of Congressional Democrats’ elections bill, known as H.R. 1, which Jealous said “will help end voter suppression, get big money out of politics, crackdown on corruption, and stop the cycle of disenfranchisement and disempowerment of the people that has gone on for far too long.” 26


  1. “Ben Jealous.” People for the American Way. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  2. “Ben Jealous.” Ballotpedia. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  3. Associated Press. “NAACP president to step down.” Politico/AP. Sept. 8, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  4. “LinkedIn Profile: Ben Jealous.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  5. Associated Press. “NAACP president to step down.” Politico/AP. Sept. 8, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  6. “Ben Jealous.” People for the American Way. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  7. “Who We Are.” Kapor Capital. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  8. FEC. “Contributions from Mitchell Kapor.” Accessed March 8, 2021.
  9. “LinkedIn Profile: Ben Jealous.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  10. “Ben Jealous.” People for the American Way. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  11. Michael Dresser. “Ex-NAACP chief Ben Jealous announces candidacy for Maryland governor.” Baltimore Sun. June 2, 2021.
  12. “Ben Jealous.” Ballotpedia. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  13. “Susan Turnbull.” Ballotpedia. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  14. David Sherfinski. “Barack Obama endorses Ben Jealous in Maryland governor’s race.” AP. Oct. 1, 2018.
  15. Holden Wilen. “Ben Jealous notches Obama’s endorsement.” Baltimore Business Journal. Oct. 1, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  16. “MD-Gov: Co-Founder Bill McKibben Endorses Climate Hawk Ben Jealous (D).” Daily Kos. Oct. 11, 2017. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  17. “SEIU labor union endorses Ben Jealous for Maryland governor.” Baltimore Sun. Oct. 11, 2017. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  18. Martin Austermuhle. “Ben Jealous Has Big Ideas For Maryland. But First He Needs People To Know He’s Running For Governor.” Nov. 1, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  19. “Ben Jealous.” Ballotpedia. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  20. Rachel M. Cohen. “WHY BEN JEALOUS LOST THE MARYLAND GOVERNOR’S RACE.” The Intercept. Nov. 7, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  21. Yamiche Alcindor. “Bernie Sanders Gets Backing From Former N.A.A.C.P. Chief and a Nevada Union.” New York Times. Feb. 4, 2016. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  22. Tweet. March 1, 2021. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  23. Ben Jealous. “Democracy Is Not Exclusive: The For the People Act works to fulfill the democratic promise of the United States. Those who seek to thwart it do not actually want a democracy.” March 8, 2021. Accessed March 8, 2021.
  24. Staff, Our. “10 Questions with Ben Jealous, New Head of People for the American Way.” The Fulcrum. The Fulcrum, August 21, 2020.
  25. “Bipartisan Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Introduced.” US Congressman Ted Deutch, January 21, 2021.
  26. Rahman, Aswar. “Speaker Pelosi, Senator Merkley, Rep. Sarbanes and Public Interest Groups Urge the Passage of Key Democracy Reform Legislation As a Top Priority.” Declaration for American Democracy, November 16, 2020.
  See an error? Let us know!