Aranthan “AJ” Jones II is executive vice president and chief communications officer, Public Affairs for Starbucks. In this role, AJ is responsible for leading Starbucks global communications, international communications, partner communications, Starbucks Stories, entertainment and more.
Before joining Starbucks, AJ was the Chief Corporate Affairs and Communications Officer for Vanda Pharmaceuticals, where he led the communications, investor relations, government affairs, corporate branding, ESG (environmental, social and governance), corporate philanthropy, and advocacy functions as a named executive officer. He also served as an executive member of the company’s corporate development and licensing review committee.
Prior to serving in this position, AJ held several executive roles at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, leading the organization’s internal and external communications, thought leadership and public policy initiatives and celebrity entertainment partnerships. Reporting directly to the President and CEO, he served as a lead spokesperson and as a senior implementation strategist on behalf of the organization’s domestic and international investments and social enterprises.
Prior to his corporate and philanthropic roles, AJ was the policy director for Rep. James Clyburn, U.S. Congressional majority whip. While there, he was directly responsible for crafting more than 214 pieces of legislation, 142 of which became law, and was a lead policy negotiator and external communicator for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act which created the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
AJ has worked extensively internationally in Hong Kong, South Africa, Germany, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and France. Additionally, he can speak Yoruba and is currently learning conversational Hebrew.
He is an avid world traveler, a devoted jazz fan, an art and horology enthusiast, and a budding gastronome. AJ is a standing guest lecturer at Harvard University and a member of the Forbes Communications Council. His favorite Starbucks beverages are Iced White Tea, White Hot Chocolate, and Caramel Apple Spice.
AJ holds a B.S. in sociology and anthropology from Iowa State University. He received his graduate training in global health policy with concentrations in economic development and finance from George Washington University. Additionally, he is completing an MBA at Cornell University as an Emerging Markets Fellow.