Jewish Journal

Jonathan Greenblatt to Head White House Innovation Unit

by JewishJournal.com

September 15, 2011 | 12:45 pm

Jonathan Greenblatt

Jonathan Greenblatt, who served as chief executive of the company that oversees Good magazine and helped create All for Good, an online volunteer database, has been named the new director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.

A longtime Jewish community activist, Greenblatt was the subject of a 2010 profile in Tribe magazine:

Greenblatt said he owes much of his humanitarian concern to how he views the world as a practicing Jew.

“All these things are informed, in part, by my own Jewish identity and the values that I think are intrinsic to our Jewish tradition,” he said.  “I think there’s this longtime commitment to tikkun olam. I try to live those values as much as I can.”

Greenblatt and his wife keep a kosher home and celebrate Shabbat dinner every Friday night with their three young sons. Except for when a sporadic soccer practice pops up, the family attends Saturday morning services at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

While enjoying his active home life, Greenblatt keeps working toward increasing the popularization of ethical consumer products and the innovative people who create them.  He hopes that by making these people and products as accessible as possible, consumers will be inspired to take further action. When this ideal can’t be reached, he’s happy to know that even single bottles of Ethos bought out of, well, thirst, can help heal the world.

Mr. Greenblatt replaces Sonal Shah, who stepped down in August after heading the office since it was created in 2009.

Mr. Greenblatt started his new position today, said Shannon Gilson, a White House spokeswoman.

Mr. Greenblatt was a lecturer at the Anderson School of Management at the University of California at Los Angeles and director of the Impact Economy Initiative, a program of the Aspen Institute that explores ways to encourage social enterprise.

He formerly served as chief executive of Good Worldwide, a media company. He also co-founded Ethos Brands, a business that started Ethos Water, a company now owned by Starbucks that pays for projects to help children around the world get clean water.

The social-innovation office works closely with the Social Innovation Fund, a grants program of the Corporation for National and Community Service that seeks to help nonprofits expand effective programs.

It also houses the White House Council for Community Solutions, a panel of nonprofit leaders and others who are advising the federal government on ways to promote innovative social projects and get people more involved in civic affairs.


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