AJ Jones | Influence 100

Aranthan “AJ” Jones II

EVP, Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer



AJ Jones took over the lead communications role at Starbucks two years ago, at a challenging time for the coffee giant: once known for its progressive employee practices, the company has in recent years been targeted by employee rights organizations for its aggressive union-busting tactics, and Jones has been charged with maintaining and restoring its reputation..

While those criticisms have contin ued—and antagonism resurfaced recently when labor unions accused the company of backing away from its commitment to LGBTQ issues in the midst of the debate about "woke" capitalism—Jones has succeeded in establishing Starbucks as a leader on DEI issues, rallying his counterparts in other high-profile companies to diversify their communications departments, and requiring the same of agency partners.

Before joining Starbucks, Jones was the chief corporate affairs and communications officer for Vanda Pharmaceuticals, and held several executive roles at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Prior to his corporate and philanthropic roles, Jones was the policy director for Rep. James Clyburn, US Congressional majority whip, leading communications for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which created the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).