June 6, 2024

U.S. Digital Response Appoints Ja'Ron Smith to Board of Directors

Ja'Ron Smith, a policy expert in advocacy, legislating, and policy strategy, joins Tammy Mank Wincup, John Bailey, Avni Shah, Janette Fong, and Jennifer Pahlka on USDR's board of directors

U.S. Digital Response Appoints Ja'Ron Smith to Board of Directors

OAKLAND, CA - U.S. Digital Response (USDR), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works alongside governments at all levels to ensure they have the capacity to meet the public's needs, today announced the addition of Ja'Ron Smith to its Board of Directors.

"We are so excited to welcome Ja'Ron to our Board of Directors. His experience in policy and economic mobility will be an invaluable addition to our team," said Jennifer Pahlka, co-chair of the Board. “Ja'Ron's extensive experience driving real change perfectly complements USDR's mission of empowering all governments through expanded capacity to help improve public services.”

"Ja’Ron’s robust experience with stakeholders on both sides of the aisle will be critical as we shape the future of U.S. Digital Response,” Avni Shah, co-chair of the Board, said. "Nonpartisanship is a pillar of USDR’s mission, and we look forward to strengthening our model for years to come.”

Currently a partner at CGCN Group, an integrated advocacy and strategic communications firm, Smith specializes in advising clients on a range of issues including regulatory affairs, economic mobility, social justice, finance, banking, and housing and urban development. Previously, Smith served as the Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity at Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which aims to move people living in fragile communities from promise to prosperity by developing research-based solutions to pressing issues such as education, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, and overall economic conditions. A published author, his book, "Underserved," written from a conservative viewpoint, bridges the partisan divide by addressing issues of structural inequality and proposing solutions. 

"I'm honored to join the board of U.S. Digital Response and contribute to their work to empower governments through building capacity," said Ja'Ron Smith. "I've seen firsthand how leveraging digital services can drive transformative change. USDR is doing invaluable work to bridge the divide between policy and implementation. I look forward to helping expand their reach across the political spectrum and ensuring all community members can access the services they need, regardless of zip code or circumstances. Together, we can build more effective and responsive systems of public service delivery."

Smith served in multiple roles in the Trump administration, including deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy and deputy director of the White House Office of American Innovation. In those positions, he played a key role in developing domestic policies and was a driving force behind legislation aimed at helping the African American community. His portfolio included criminal justice reform, immigration, economic revitalization of distressed communities, opportunity zones, infrastructure, trade, economic growth, job creation, and initiatives related to historically Black colleges and universities.

Smith was awarded the 2020 Bipartisan Justice Award and is a graduate of Howard University School of Business and Howard University School of Divinity. He is also an ordained minister and serves as a Senior Fellow with Right on Crime and Founder of Public Safety Solutions for America.

Smith joins Jennifer Pahlka, USDR co-founder, Code for America founder, and former U.S. deputy chief technology officer; Avni Shah, former VP/GM at Google; Janette Fong, USDR co-founder and chief digital officer for WorkMoney; John Bailey, a non-resident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Tammy Mank Wincup, partner at Rethink Education and a senior advisor at Get Well; and Hillary Hartley, USDR's CEO. Recently, USDR marked its fourth anniversary, alongside Hartley's one-year milestone as CEO. Read more about USDR's most recent accomplishments in its 2023 Year In Review.

About U.S. Digital Response‍

U.S. Digital Response is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works alongside governments at all levels to ensure they have the capacity to support the critical needs of the public. Founded in 2020, USDR connects governments with technology, resources, and support, leaving them better equipped to deliver services and support to millions of people nationwide. To date, USDR has built a dedicated community of over 9,000 volunteers driven to serve in a time of need and has partnered with 400 government and nonprofit partners on more than 400 projects. See more at https://www.usdigitalresponse.org

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