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Chatting with Ben Jealous

As the 17th president and CEO of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous helped the 104-year-old organization increase its donor rolls, double its revenue and blast into the digital age with the support of more than 1.3 million online activists. After helping to end the death penalty in six states, registering over 370,000 new voters and fighting to restore Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Jealous, 40, resigned in September 2013 to spend more time with his wife, Lia Epperson, and their two young children.

“During the first year of my son’s life, I was on the road 155 days,” says Jealous, who spent five years at the NAACP helm. “I said ‘There’s no way for me to be both.’ You get many chances to serve, but you only get one chance with your kids.”

JET: Did you worry that stepping down would affect your future?

Ben Jealous: I have no regrets. My dad, a non-profit executive, gave up his full-time job for two years to connect with my sister and me when we were young. After he went back to work we had a strong bond. That gave me the strength and clarity to put my kids first.

TO READ THE FULL STORY, PICK UP THE LATEST ISSUE OF JET MAGAZINE, ON STANDS MONDAY, JANUARY 6.