Former Organizer Spotlight: Jason Green
Jason Green is an attorney, political strategist, and entrepreneur, but most importantly, he is an organizer for missions that he cares about. After many years spent organizing and serving in President Obama’s administration, Jason began two new ventures of his own. As the co-founder, senior vice president, and general counsel of SkillSmart and the director and producer of The Quince Orchard Project, Jason uses principles and skills he developed while organizing to empower individuals and communities through two unique projects close to his heart.
The first, The Quince Orchard Project, is a documentary and community organizing effort to use history to shape the future. The film is told through the lens of the unlikely merger of three racially segregated churches in the 1960s during one of America’s most turbulent times. But it is really a study of how the community evolved, reminding each of us of our inherent ability and responsibility to affect the communities we care about.
As fifth generation descendants of Quince Orchard, Maryland, Jason and his sister didn’t even know this community existed before recently hearing stories from their 95-year-old grandmother. Jason and his sister then began a journey to learn more about the historic community of Quince Orchard and have been compelled by the stories they have been told. Though the story is personal to them, it is relevant to everyone; there are countless Quince Orchards across the country whose stories have yet to be told.
One particular aspect of The Quince Orchard Project, the #DoersDo campaign, honors individuals who look around their community, see what’s needed, and take action that benefits everyone. This essentially is the heart of what organizers do.
Speaking about the #DoersDo campaign, Jason says, “Frankly, we’re all better when we have people who are willing to engage, who are willing to lower their shoulder, who are willing to move out of their comfort zone. Our experiences and our unique gifts really have something to give and we are therefore all benefited when we are willing to engage with those gifts and our talents. Our dialogue and our discourse is all raised when we have the full weight of that engagement and we’re all burdened when we don’t have it. We all have the ability to be that doer and when we all do engage, think how much better these outcomes can be, and therefore more generally society and the world and can be.”
While Jason works on a film that both honors the value of storytelling and the value of individuals who take collective action to improve their circumstances, it’s easy to see how the skills, passions, and practices of organizing can be used outside of politics, for personal and powerful projects. But Jason doesn’t just use his organizing for The Quince Orchard Project.
He also recognizes how closely tied being an organizer is to being an entrepreneur. When people wonder why Jason stepped away from the law and stepped away from organizing, he lets them know those are actually the two skills he uses most every day as a small business owner, particularly a small business owner of a company that is social impact driven.
The mission of SkillSmart, which Jason co- founded while simultaneously working on The Quince Orchard Project, is to empower businesses and job seekers to use skills to maximize their potential and to realize that potential. As a technology and consultant company, SkillSmart works with employers to bring clarity and transparency to the skills they are trying to hire. They then match individuals based on their experiences to jobs where their skills match up. When someone isn’t a match for a job they want, SkillSmart helps point them towards training opportunities that can give them the very skills they most need.
When Jason served as associate counsel for President Obama, he began to see a need for something like SkillSmart. While supporting the National Economic Council, Jason would talk to employers who were unsure of the exact skills they needed and potential employees who were confused about what skills they needed to acquire. While reflecting on the skills gap and what solutions could be used to help solve this skills gap, Jason received some personal motivation.
Jason was helping his mother update her resume as she looked to transition in the workforce when he discovered she had many more skills than she was conveying to a potential employer. Traditional job applications didn’t make it possible for her to properly show her worth. Encouraged to study the problem more, Jason realized just how many people were frustrated with the current system. Then he did just what all doers do: he took action.
In each project he takes on, Jason uses the principles of organizing. His state of mind is always that of an organizer and the confidence he gained from organizing gives him the power to try challenging and significant projects.
Jason is proof of how a solid foundation as an organizer continues to serve him well with each new career challenge he faces.