ADEL Portrait : Jordan Kronen
Bright and open-minded, this young American has already achieved a lot at just 28 years of old. Since February 2019, he has been serving as Legislative Assistant to Democratic Senator Liz Lovelett in Olympia, Washington. “Working for a senator whose values I share is really a dream come true,” he says. He sees Liz Lovelett as a role model, since “she leads with her heart and great values, always thinking on how we can infuse equity into everything we do.”
Jordan Kronen calls Washington home, as he moved there from a suburb outside Miami, Florida when he was 12. His father is a small business owner, recruiting for technology companies, and his mother a paralegal working in a law firm. But his main influence comes from his grandfather, “Poppie.” “He served in World War II in Germany and in the Pacific theater and even has a patent from his work as a member of a military commission that designed a suit to withstand both high and low temperatures for combat pilots and space travel,” explains Jordan Kronen, with beaming pride.
A Democrat grandfather
“Poppie” was also the founder of the Democratic Party chapter in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. He conveyed to his grandson a strong sense of public service: “Vocation in government means serving the people; it is both honorable work and gives meaning and a sense of purpose that is much bigger than any one person.” Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jordan also co-founded the College Democrats of Oregon, while studying Politics and Government at Pacific University.
His absolute idol, however, is no other than the late John Lewis, the famous African American civil rights activist and congressman from the state of Georgia who passed away last July. Lewis was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington against legalized segregation, voting disenfranchisement, and racial discrimination. Jordan met the non-violent freedom rider twice in 2012, when he was an intern with the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C, and later that year while working at the DNC National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I’ll never forget his demeanor and grace. There are no words to express just how instrumental John Lewis was in changing the country in the face of overwhelming hatred, violence, and bigotry.”
Asian experiences, interest for Africa
A thirst for exploring and learning more about the world was also mostly inspired by his grandfather’s travels throughout East Asia after World War II. Jordan made bold moves after graduating from college to gain experiences abroad. First, in 2015, he spent three months in Chiang Mai, Thailand interning for Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative. Working for this “non-profit with a long title,” Jordan aided their mission of advocating for legal ethics, strengthening the rule of law, and increasing access to justice and pro bono legal services. As a Fulbright Scholar, the following year in 2016, he taught English to schoolchildren in Bachok, a rural town in the state of Kelantan in Malaysia’s northwest peninsula. “It was the best experience of my life. Despite being forced to conceal my Jewish identity in a very conservative Islamic town, it felt most rewarding to start integrating myself in another culture and engaging in mutual understanding between our two countries.”
Then, he decided to pursue an accelerated mater’s course in 2017-18 to get an M.A. in Global Affairs as a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. “It’s a very new program as I was a part of the second cohort, but it is modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. The mission of the program is to strengthen U.S-China relations, and to ensure greater collaboration and prosperity for the world as China becomes a more prominent player on the international stage”.
After discussing the opportunity with a Schwarzman Scholar from Nigeria, he applied for the Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leaders (ADEL) Program, and came to Marrakech, Morocco in December 2019. “I applied because I became increasingly interested in the Global South and Africa, where various external actors are applying pressure on this mostly developing continent. I wrote my thesis on the China Belt and Road Initiative and how China flexes its muscles on countries in Africa, South-East Asia, and other regions within its orbit, often leading to ‘debt diplomacy’ and other undesirable outcomes. I was curious to see how African countries are responding to these pressures, and how best we can work with leaders on the African continent to be independent rather than relying on China or the U.S. With its growing young population and innovative, nascent industries, it’s really an exciting time for Africa. I met young African leaders in Marrakech, learned a great deal from them, and felt truly inspired by their example and drive.”
Focusing on climate change
His current battle, now, is climate change, and how to mitigate its effects in an equitable way. He’s working on a proposal authored by Senator Liz Lovelett that is making the headlines in the United States. The Washington Sustainable, Transformative Recovery Opportunities for the Next Generation (STRONG) Act establishes an economy-wide price on carbon pollution to generate the bondable revenue needed to finance a resilient recovery and clean economy transition. The revenue generated would be invested in projects that deliver positive returns in the form of economic activity, greenhouse gas reduction, community resilience, and healthy, productive natural resource lands. The beneficiaries would be the communities most affected in Washington State, on the basis of a health disparities mapping tool created by the state’s Environmental Justice Task Force. This map shows, based on science and data, where these investments are needed the most to alleviate the burden on these frontline communities already experiencing the harmful effects of a changing climate. “This is a bold proposal that would provide a blueprint for other states and the Federal government to potentially implement,” he says.
Some of his favorite books are The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones, and the philosophical tale Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, which also embeds thematic threads of sustainability and climate change. An indelible memory of the book for Jordan is the describing of the world as a plane having run off a cliff and going downward toward its demise. Even though the vessel has all the inherent capabilities to fly and avert disaster, it continues descending on a rapidly expedient trajectory. Jordan hopes to wake up the pilot (humankind), start the engine (ingenuity and our problem-solving spirit) and begin to change course. “The sky, after all, is our only limit.”
His next step? Pursuing a concurrent degree (a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy) to better equip himself with both a solid legal foundation and policy chops to continue pursuing his climate agenda. “My goal is to play a prominent role in fighting climate change in an equitable way. People representing diverse voices from various backgrounds, industries, and perspectives must be at an inclusive table when these decisions are being made to put forth the best solutions so we can ultimately succeed together.”