Will Jawando is an attorney, activist, and community leader with a lifelong dedication to public service. His is a career crafted by a unique combination of grit, compassion, and integrity. Born to a Nigerian father and white Kansan mother in Silver Spring, MD, Will’s bi-racial identity gave him an appreciation for the varied experiences life in America can bring. Raised in a low-income household, he was determined to secure a successful future for himself through the pathway of education. When he was a teenager, however, tragedy struck when one of his best friends was killed in a senseless act of gun violence.
The aftermath of this ordeal would be the catalyst that would solidify Will’s commitment to becoming an agent of change through public service. With unwavering dedication, he earned a B.A. in Sociology from Catholic University of America (CUA) and completed his J.D. from the prestigious CUA Columbus School of Law. While attending CUA, he started the first NAACP chapter on their campus – a move that would chart the course for his burgeoning career in law and politics. Described as “the progressive leader we need” by revered civil rights activist and Congressman, John Lewis, Will has worked with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Sherrod Brown, and then-Senator Barack Obama. During the 8-year Obama Administration, Will had the honor of serving as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, followed by a position as an advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the U.S. Department of Education. He has worked tirelessly to ensure a quality education, opportunities for prosperity and guaranteed civil rights are available to every American.
On the community level, Will is a champion for underserved populations and has led efforts to elicit change in the areas of educational opportunity, economic growth, and criminal justice reform. In 2017, he spearheaded Summer R.I.S.E., a summer job shadowing program in partnership with Worksource Montgomery, state and county government, and Montgomery County Public Schools that placed over 400 high school students in enriching career experiences.
Will is the co-leader of the African-American Student Achievement Action Group (AASAG) which works with MCPS and the community to advocate for strategies to close opportunity and achievement gaps for African American students in Montgomery County Public Schools. In 2014, he founded Our Voices Matter, Maryland, a social justice non-profit that works with all communities to develop broader civic engagement, grassroots activism, and leadership. Will is also a co-founder of the African Immigrant Caucus (AIC) whose mission is to increase civic engagement, economic development and political participation of Africans in the diaspora, in Maryland, D.C.and Virginia.
As the former Director of Corporate and Government Affairs at Discovery Communications, he oversaw the development of public-private partnerships that would aid in STEM opportunities for Maryland’s youth.
Buoyed by his commitment to serve others, in 2016 Will was the youngest candidate in Maryland’s 8th District congressional race and received a glowing endorsement from the Congressional Black Caucus and thought leaders from across the ideological spectrum. A regular commentator for MSNBC and cable news, Jawando is fast becoming a voice of authority on issues surrounding the nation’s political climate, public policy, and social justice. He has been featured in an array of national media outlets including, NBC News, the New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, MTV, and NY Magazine.
It’s Will’s family and friends that keep him grounded and focused on what’s most important in life. A devoted husband and father of three beautiful girls, his family is his greatest achievement. He and his wife Michele work together to create a loving and safe environment for their children, and won’t rest until Americans everywhere, can have the same.