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Ja’Ron K. Smith

Ja’Ron Smith is currently the Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity, 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.  For years, Ja’Ron has been a champion of pushing for policies that create positive change for forgotten Americans and deliver tangible results for impoverished communities. Prior to CAO, Ja’Ron was President Trump’s highest and longest ranking African-American advisor and served in the White House in many different roles. Most recently, he served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the White House Office of American Innovation.

Ja’Ron played a key role in developing President Trump’s policies and has been a driving force in passing legislation aimed at helping the African American community. He was instrumental in passing the criminal justice reform bill that freed thousands of African Americans and reunited people with their families, helped give historically black colleges and universities the highest level of presidential funding they’ve received in 20 years, advocated for boosting the opportunity zone program that revitalized many minority and low-income communities, and also focused on aiding minority businesses impacted by COVID-19 and was behind the President’s recent executive order regarding law enforcement and use of force in America. Ja’Ron’s portfolio during his time at the White House included a wide range of other issues, including immigration, re-entry, economic revitalization of distressed communities, infrastructure, trade, economic growth and job creation, and more. 

He previously served as a Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs and was the President’s liaison to the United States House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, Agriculture Committee, Education and Workforce Committee, Homeland Security Committee, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Prior to serving as the Special Assistant to the President in the Office of Legislative Affairs, Ja’Ron served as the President’s Director of Urban Affairs and Revitalization, where he was a chief policy strategist and manager of HBCU initiatives, crime and reentry, and the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Before the President began his term in office, Ja’Ron also served Congressmen J.C. Watts, Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, Jeb Hensarling, along with Senator Tim Scott and prior Chairman and Governor Mike Pence.

As evidenced by his personal and professional commitments, Mr. Smith has been a longtime advocate for economic development, crime prevention, entrepreneurship, and workforce development. Ja’Ron Smith was recently awarded the 2020 Bipartisan Justice Award.

Ja’Ron is a graduate of Howard University School of Business and Howard University School of Divinity.