A native of California, Benjamin T. Jealous attended Columbia University, where he worked in Harlem as a community organizer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Jealous was an active leader in school-wide movements including advocating for the rights of the homeless, protecting full-need financial aid and need-blind admissions, and fighting for environmental justice.
While suspended from the University for participating in a protest, Jealous became a field organizer in Mississippi, where he led a campaign that prevented the State of Mississippi from closing two of its three public historically black universities. He then became an investigative reporter for the African American newspaper, The Jackson Advocate, and rose to the position of Managing Editor.
Jealous returned to Columbia University in 1997 and completed his degree in political science before going on to earn a master's degree in comparative social research at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Jealous served as Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more than two hundred black community newspapers. From 2002 to 2005, he was director of the U.S. Human Rights Program at Amnesty International, after which he served for three years as president of the Rosenberg Foundation, a private organization that funds civil and human rights advocacy to benefit California's working families. He was the seventeenth President and Chief Executive Officer of the NAACP -- the youngest person to hold the position in the organization's nearly 100-year history. In 2014, he became a venture partner with Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center for Social Impact in order to bridge the gap from poor communities of color to the tech world.