Months after stepping down as head of the nation’s largest civil rights organization, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous is transforming himself from an East Coast political activist to a West Coast venture capitalist.
The career switch is one that he hopes will help further his aspirations of acquiring more opportunities for blacks and Latinos in the thriving tech economy.
“My life’s mission has been leveling the playing field and closing gaps in opportunity and success,” Jealous, 41, told The Associated Press before Tuesday’s announcement. “I’m excited about trying a different approach.”
The Northern California native will be joining entrepreneurs Mitchell Kapor and Fread Kapor Klein at their venture capital investment firm.
The firm backs information technology startups dedicated to making a positive social impact.
Fred Turner, a culture and technology professor at Stanford University, said it’s “fascinating that a person of his caliber and experience would move into this space.”
Turner revealed there’s a deep questioning about how to accomplish positive social change in the U.S.
“In the Silicon Valley they approach it entrepreneurially, in Washington they approach it politically,” Turner said. “These are two very different modes.”
Jealous said he and his family don’t plan on relocating to the West Coast, but will remain in Silver Spring, Md.; however, he will commute once a month.
Jealous said he and his family will remain in Silver Spring, Md., but he’ll commute to the West Coast about once a month.
Jealous, accredited with improving NAACP’s finances, dnor base and outreach, disclosed he will never wash his hands completely of politics.
“It’s in my DNA,” he said.
His new position will require Jealous to receive a crash course in technology, investing and even software coding.
“I’m going to have a computer coding tutor for the first time since I was in fifth grade,” he said.