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Ja'Ron K. Smith

Executive Director Center for Advancing Opportunity

Currently, Ja’Ron Smith serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity developing research-based solutions to issues of education, criminal justice, and economic mobility with the intent of transitioning fragile communities from promise to prosperity.

For years, Ja’Ron has championed policies that create positive change for forgotten Americans and deliver tangible results for impoverished communities. Before CAO, Ja’Ron was President Trump’s highest-ranked and longest-tenured African American advisor and occupied several positions within the White House. His most recent role saw him serve as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the White House Office of American Innovation.

Ja’Ron played a crucial 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 the passage of a historic criminal justice reform bill that freed thousands of African Americans and reunited families. This bill also helped historically black colleges and universities receive their highest level of presidential funding in 20 years, revitalized many minority and low-income communities by boosting the opportunity zone program, and aided minority businesses impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, Ja’Ron was a driving force behind President Trump’s executive order regarding law enforcement and their use of force in America. During his time at the White House, his portfolio included a wide range of other issues, e.g., immigration, reentry, economic revitalization of distressed communities, infrastructure, trade, economic growth, and job creation.

He served as a Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs and 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. Before 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. There he was a chief policy strategist and manager of HBCU initiatives, crime and reentry, and the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Before President Trump, Ja’Ron served under Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Former Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Former Vice-President, Michael Pence during his term as Governor of Indiana.

As a testament to his personal and professional commitments, Mr. Smith received the 2020 Bipartisan Justice Award in honor of his role as a longtime advocate for economic mobility, crime prevention, entrepreneurship, and workforce development.

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