James Steyer, CEO and Founder Common Sense Media, National Children's Policy Expert and Media Entrepreneur
James Steyer is one of the most respected experts and entrepreneurs on issues related to children's media and education in the United States. He is founder and chief executive officer of Common Sense, the nation's leading nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving media and technology choices for kids and families. He is also the founder and chairman of the Center for the Next Generation.
Steyer is a nationally known author, having written the widely acclaimed book Talking Back to Facebook in 2012, as well as another highly successful book, The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media's Effect on Our Children. Prior to launching Common Sense, Steyer was chairman and CEO of JP Kids, a leading educational kids' media company. Before that, he was the founder and president of Children Now, the highly respected national advocacy and media organization for children, which he founded in 1988.
Steyer is an award-winning faculty member at Stanford University, where he has taught popular courses for 26 years. He is a consulting professor in the department of political science and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, teaching a variety of courses on education, civil rights, and civil liberties issues. Among other honors, Steyer has received the university's highest teaching honor, the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is awarded annually to three Stanford professors. He was also voted by the students to be Class Day speaker at Stanford's graduation exercises.
Steyer began his professional career as a law clerk for Justice Allen Broussard of the California Supreme Court. He then served as a civil rights attorney, working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. There, he helped spearhead the Poverty and Justice Program, focused on developing national legal and legislative strategies on behalf of disadvantaged African-Americans. In addition, while still in law school, Steyer was a founder and original chairperson of the East Palo Alto Community Law Project. This nonprofit law office served for nearly 20 years as the primary source of legal services for low-income families in East Palo Alto and has been the training ground for hundreds of students at Stanford Law School.
Steyer's long-standing commitment to disadvantaged children and to teaching began decades ago when he was a remedial reading tutor to at-risk kids in New York City public schools. Since then, he has taught reading and math to disadvantaged kids in New York, East Palo Alto, and Oakland, and he spent more than 10 years as a volunteer teacher to second-, third-, and fifth-graders in East Oakland.
In addition to his activities as an advocate, author, and teacher, Steyer serves regularly as an expert commentator on many national TV and radio programs. He has frequently appeared on shows and networks including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, CNN, Fox News, and the CBS Early Show.
Steyer grew up in New York City and went to college at Stanford University. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded the Lindsey Peters Award for Outstanding Work in American Government. After two years of community development work in Asia, he returned to Stanford Law School, from which he received his J.D. in 1983. Steyer lives in the Bay Area with his wife, Elizabeth, and their four children, Lily, Kirk, Caroline, and Jesse.