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Former NAACP Head Changes Coasts and Careers, Keeps the Same Mission

Ben Jealous takes to the Silicon Valley Ben Jealous just stepped down from the position of NAACP president a few months ago and he’s already embarking on a new career path that will relocate him to the West Coast while expanding his mission to grow opportunities in minority communities.

Jealous worked tirelessly to bring new life and progress to the NAACP on the East Coast, but now he will be taking off to Silicon Valley as a venture capitalist.

The prominent civil rights activist will be joining an Oakland venture capital firm, Kapor Capital, to create a freeway to the world of technology in low-income, minority communities.

Specifically, he will be assisting the firm in scoping out and funding startups that are led by African-American or Latino entrepreneurs.

“My life’s mission has been leveling the playing field and closing gaps in opportunity and success,” the 41-year-old told the Associated Press before making the announcement on Tuesday. “I’m excited about trying a different approach.”

According to Fred Turner, an associate professor studying culture and technology at Stanford University, Jealous is about to enter an entirely new world of activism.

He explained that the East Coast and West Coast are taking two different approaches to social change.

“In the Silicon Valley they approach it entrepreneurially, in Washington they approach it politically,” he said. “These are two very different modes.”

Freada Kapor Klein, the wife of Silicon Valley pioneer Mitch Kapor, isn’t worried about whether or not Jealous will be able to handle the big change and the task at hand.

Ben Jealous becomes venture capitalist “There’s nobody else in the world who can organize coalitions like Ben,” Kapor Klein said. “The turnaround he did at the NAACP rivals anything that’s been done in the corporate world.”

Not to mention Jealous has always been known for tackling the unimaginable. At the age of 35, he was the youngest person to ever lead the NAACP.

Jealous said that while his work will focus on the West Coast, he will still be living with his family in Maryland and commute west about once a month.

His new salary has not been disclosed, but he said it was about the same amount he made while he was at the NAACP, roughly $285,000, according to 2011 tax forms.

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