11 March 2009

Van Jones to CEQ: Finally, An Entrepreneur in the White House

Well, it's official, Van Jones will be joining the White Center on Environmental Quality as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Finally, an entrepreneur in the White House. Perhaps he can things going in the right direction.

"Van Jones has been a strong voice for green jobs and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the President’s agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources," CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley said in a released statement. "Jones will also help to shape and advance the Administration’s energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities

Jones is the founder of Green For All, an organization focused on creating green jobs in impoverished areas. He is also the co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change, and was the author of the 2008 New York Times best-seller, The Green Collar Economy.

"Your goal has to be to get the greenest solutions to the poorest people," Jones told Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker in a profile in January. "That’s the only goal that’s morally compelling enough to generate enough energy to pull this transition off. The challenge is making this an everybody movement, so your main icons are Joe Six-Pack—Joe the Plumber—becoming Joe the Solar Guy, or that kid on the street corner putting down his handgun, picking up a caulk gun."

Here, according to the White House, is a video of Van's "official" meeting at the Middle Class Task Force in Philadelphia two weeks ago:

Hopefully, this will be an opportunity for Van to expand his work started with Green for All, making the transition to the new green economy. I wonder about how he'll fair in a government position.

Van has excelled as an entrepreneur, first starting the Ella Baker Center and then Green for All, which requires nimbleness and resourcefulness. The White House hasn't exactly been known for that in the past -- and despite all the talk from Candidate Obama, it hasn't seemed particularly entrepreneurial thus far under President Obama.