Jennifer Jones Austin has devoted her career to fighting for equal opportunity for all, with a keen focus on dismantling systemic barriers for persons of color, women, and children. A fourth-generation leader of faith and social justice, she is the CEO and Executive Director of FPWA, an anti-poverty policy and advocacy nonprofit with 170 member organizations; its work is centered on economic opportunity and upward mobility. She is a radio host, an author, and public speaker, and sits on the board of many organizations including the National Action Network, the Feerick Center for Social Justice, the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, and the NYC Board of Correction for which she is Chair.
At FPWA, Jennifer leads coalitions and advocates for monumental changes in policy and law to strengthen and empower disenfranchised and marginalized people. Prior to joining FPWA, she served as Senior Vice President of the United Way of New York City, Family Services Coordinator for Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and Vice President for LearnNow/Edison Schools.
Jennifer co-hosts the awarding winning WBLS “Open Line”, guest hosts the nationally syndicated radio program, “Keep’n It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton”, and is a monthly contributor on the “Karen Hunter Show”. She is the author of Consider It Pure Joy, a harrowing account of her battle with a sudden, life threatening illness and the power of faith and community to transform desperation into joy; and the editor of God in the Ghetto: A Prophetic Word Revisited, a reprint of the prized 1979 book written by her father, William Augustus Jones, Jr, with contemporary responses from today’s faith leaders, deconstructing racism in America and the role of religion in birthing, perpetuating, and ultimately, dismantling it.
Jennifer is the chairperson and a commissioner of the NYC Racial Justice Commission, the first commission of its kind in the nation tasked with targeting and dismantling structural and institutional racism across the city. She is a member of The African American Task Force for Vaccine Equity and Education, which is dedicated to helping overcome the inequitable barriers Black communities face during the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine; and she was a co-sponsor of the New York Police Department Reform and Reinvention Collaborative to end racialized policing and the criminalization of poverty. Jennifer is a Board Member of the National Action Network, Fordham University’s Feerick Center for Social Justice and the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior. She previously co-chaired the Mayoral Transition for Bill de Blasio and the NYC Procurement Policy Board.