Early life and education
West was born in San Francisco, California, to parents Franklin West and Peggy West. His father, the first person in his family to attend college, was born and raised in Georgia and worked for IBM; while his mother, who was a teacher, was born and raised in Alabama. West was raised in San Jose, California, where he lived with his two younger sisters; Pamela and Patricia. He attended Bellarmine College Preparatory, a Catholic, all-male, private secondary school, where he served as freshman class president, before graduating in 1983.
West received his Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard University in 1987, where he served as the Publisher of the Harvard Political Review. In 1988, West began volunteering and working on political campaigns, engaging in Democratic political causes, such as working as the chief of staff to the Boston, Massachusetts treasurer of Michael Dukakis's presidential campaign. West also served as a finance director to the Democratic Governors Association, until 1989. He received his Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School in 1992, where he served as the President of the Stanford Law Review. While attending Stanford, he worked as a summer intern for Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman in 1990. He also worked as a summer intern for Tuttle & Taylor, and Morrison & Foerster in 1991.
Originally called PAC+, PowerPAC+ is a political action committee formed in 2012 to build the political power of America’s multiracial majority. It emerged from the groundbreaking work of Vote Hope in 2007-08. At that time, then-Senator Barack Obama was assembling his Presidential campaign and California’s primary moved from June to a more influential month, February. "We created Vote Hope, the first super-PAC aimed at supporting Barack Obama’s bid for president. Vote Hope was the largest independent effort in the nation to increase voter turnout in communities of color. It drew in $10 million, and expanded to 18 states during the primary season".
After President Obama’s election, "we set up a DC office and worked closely with the administration’s personnel staff" to build a Diversity Talent Bank that the White House used to identify and hire more than 60 people including Associate Attorney General Tony West. During that same period, many in our network became leaders in non-profits, philanthropy, and government such as Vote Hope fundraiser and former board member Benjamin Jealous who became NAACP president".
In 2009, "we convened" the leadership of the largest civil rights groups in the country and helped execute a media campaign targeting senators who were wavering on the health care reform bill. That effort led to the creation of a coalition of labor, civil rights, and progressive groups who conducted the One Nation Working Together 10/2/10 March on Washington.
On February 21-22, 2014, Stanford’s Black Law Student’s Association (BLSA) celebrated Black History Month by holding two events on campus honoring and celebrating champions of racial justice.
“The Next 50 Years of Civil Rights & Racial Justice” gala on February 21st, featured Maya Harris, JD ’92, a Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress and Tony West, JD ’92, Associate Attorney General as keynote speakers.
“BLSA Presents: A Conversation with Senator Cory Booker” on February 22, welcomed Booker '91 back to campus for an intimate discussion with Professor David Mills on civil rights and racial justice.