Aranthan “AJ” Jones II is senior policy advisor at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan and currently overseas all policy-advocacy and policy strategy.
In this role, AJ works directly the president and CEO to ensure alignment and advancement of policy grantmaking investments across the organization. Jones serves as a key spokesperson on behalf of the organization’s domestic and international public policy engagements and works in coordination with the president and CEO, the executive leadership team and the board on the foundation’s policy portfolio/grantee investments and operations. Additionally, he serves as a key interface with multilateral institutions, global and domestic investment agencies, corporations, public/private philanthropies and governments. AJ has held multiple executive roles at the foundation including chief policy and communications officer and chief of staff.
Prior to joining the foundation, Jones served as the head of worldwide government affairs for Gilead Sciences, a leading biotech company. At Gilead, he led a global team to develop, advance and engage public policy and regulatory systems to expand access and pharmaceutical innovation. He was also responsible for aligning strategic communications and public policy engagements for governmental and nongovernmental audiences.
Jones also previously served as health practice chairman and principal at the Podesta Group in Washington, D.C., where he was lead strategist and public policy consultant for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits and global foundations. Additionally, he served on the firm’s management committee, business communication committee and was co-chairman of its investment committee.
Prior to joining Podesta, Jones was the policy director for the U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip office, headed by Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. He was one of four policy directors, the first African American to hold this position and the highest-ranking African American healthcare advisor. During his congressional tenure, Jones was directly responsible for the crafting of more than 214 pieces legislation, 142 of which became law. He also served as policy director for the Congressional Katrina and Rita Leadership Working Group which was charged with coordinating and directing all congressional action on Gulf Coast recovery matters.
Jones has received numerous national awards and citations acknowledging his leadership in a myriad of public policy areas, including being named by Iowa State University’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences as one of the 150 most fascinating graduates.
While a staple in the healthcare policy community, he is also well established in the financial services community. His exceptional knowledge of capital markets, municipal bond markets, derivatives, pensions and debt-securitization led to his appointment as one of the lead policy negotiators for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) which created the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
A guest lecturer for the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, Harvard University’s School of Public Health and Harvard University’s School of Medicine, Jones lectures widely on economic/finance policy, healthcare quality, philanthropy, disaster preparedness policy, international relations, advocacy, executive leadership and diversity/inclusion.
He has worked internationally in Nigeria, South Africa, Germany and France. He can speak Yoruba (a prominent Nigerian language) and is learning conversational Hebrew.
He currently serves on the following boards: Grantmakers in Health, Landon School (an all-boys, grades 3-12 private school), The Norwood School (a co-ed, K-8 private school), Battle Creek Unlimited, National Collaborative for Health Equity, Black Women’s Health Imperative, and US Soccer Foundation-DC Leadership Council. Additionally, he is an advisory board member for John C. Stennis Congressional Fellowship Program, public policy council member of the Council on Foundations and the Washington Economic Club’s education committee.
Jones holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and anthropology from Iowa State University and received his graduate training in international health policy with concentrations in economic development and finance from George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.