Environmental activist and author Van Jones, one of the first to recognize the power of a "green collar" job corps as a tool for social justice, has been tapped by the Obama administration to serve as special adviser for green jobs, enterprise, and innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
Under his new post, which he'll start Monday, Jones will shape and advance the administration's energy and climate initiatives "with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities," said Nancy Sutley, chair of the CEQ, in a statement Tuesday.
The Yale-trained attorney from Tennessee made a name for himself in the San Francisco Bay Area through his work on youth-violence prevention and police- and youth-justice reform with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which he co-founded 11 years ago in Oakland, Calif.
More recently, however, he's been catapulted to the national stage by his push to get national funding for green jobs training. He also launched Green For All, an organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. And his recent book, "The Green Collar Economy," made The New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction hardcover books.
His hope is that low-income, minority communities will be able to share in the potential fortunes of the emerging clean-tech economy.
"We need to be very sure we are not replicating the mistakes from the dot-com days when we set ourselves up for a digital divide," he told CNET News in a 2007 interview. "We should work very hard to avoid having an ecodivide where we have ecological haves and ecological have-nots."
"There's an opportunity here to take a photovoltaic panel and use that not only to push down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, but also begin to push people up out of poverty," he continued in the interview. "I think it would be very smart for Silicon Valley to think about these technologies as social uplift, job-creating technologies as well as global warming solutions."
Taking the reins at Green For All will be Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, the former executive officer at the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.
Former CNET News staff writer Elsa Wenzel contributed to this report