Diversity Leadership Conference 2014 Keynote Speakers
Benjamin Todd Jealous is the immediate past president and CEO of the NAACP. He stepped down from his post at the end of 2013. The youngest president in its history, he began his career at age 18 opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Jealous has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality, and free multiple wrongfully incarcerated people. Under his leadership, the NAACP grew to be the largest civil rights organization online and on mobile, experienced its first multi-year membership growth in twenty years, and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country. A builder of robust coalitions, Jealous's leadership at the NAACP included bringing environmentalist organizations into the fight to protect voting rights, and convincing well-known conservatives to join the NAACP in championing the end of mass incarceration.
Prior to leading the NAACP, he spent 15 years serving as a journalist and community organizer. While at Mississippi’s Jackson Advocate Newspaper—the most frequently firebombed publication in the US during the late 20th century—his investigations were credited with exposing corruption at the state penitentiary at Parchman and proving the innocence of a black farmer who was being framed for arson. While at Amnesty International, he led successful efforts to outlaw prison rape, expose the increasing trend of children being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and draw attention to expanded racial profiling in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. When he was still a college student, Jealous helped lead a successful campaign to stop the governor of Mississippi from turning a public historically black university into a prison.
A Rhodes Scholar, he is a graduate of Columbia and Oxford Universities. He has been named to the 40 under 40 lists of both Forbes and Time magazines, and labeled a Young Global Economic Leader by the World Economic Forum. He is #1 on TheRoot.com’s 2013 list of black leaders under 45. Jealous lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.