Inside The Office with our #12DaysofCSuiteChicks Promotion Winner, Jaclyn Smith

What is your "day job"?

I use the term “Ed Hustler” as a way to encompass that I am a social entrepreneur and public leader. 

I am simultaneously preparing for elected office while working on a venture that elevates the voices of students from the most marginalized communities in the policy-making process. The focus is to increase student interest in local politics and get them civically engaged. The long-term goal is to create a pipeline and pathway into policy and administration fields to diversify public leadership, where people of color and those from low-income backgrounds are least represented.

Who are your heroes, or mentors?

My mother and my women friends. My mother is the foundation for where my pursuit for justice begins, and why I always gravitate toward courageous women. The women in my social and professional networks embody characteristics I admire and strive for in myself. I am grateful to have a community of women leaders in my life - both near and far - that lift as we climb. 

When did you decide to work in education reform and that being a social entrepreneur would be your journey?

I believe social justice work is my destiny and I take this responsibility very seriously because I personally understand that systemic barriers must be tackled to address educational inequity. This belief is rooted in my personal experience feeling disempowered by the educational system. For me, this fight isn’t only about combating injustice, but to advocate for my child self and my family. As a multiracial woman and first-generation graduate, raised by an immigrant mother who grew up in severe poverty and a father from a poor rural upbringing, I saw how my parents didn’t think they had a voice in shaping the education system. However, it is their love and sacrifice that enabled me to overcome obstacles, and I honor this by working to elevate voices through collective action.

I have always been a visionary and entrepreneur-minded so the journey to be a social entrepreneur allows me to leverage my experiences, talents, and interests in a way that tackles educational equity in truly innovative and progressive ways. I used to think I had to pick one direction or another so it’s exciting to see so much investment being made in social ventures.

If you weren't in education reform, what would life look like?

I am also a huge animal lover! If I was forced to leave education, I would be living in Indonesia on the island of Borneo working on an orangutan refuge. I know a lot about orangutans so if anyone is ever interested in learning more please let me know! J

If you had it all to do over again, would you do anything differently?

Yes, I would have pursued my social venture earlier. It took a lot of affirming from friends and family before I stopped being my own worst enemy. As the quote says, “So she decided to believe in herself as much as she believed in others, it was then the magic began!” 

What do you do, for you, that brings you absolute joy or peace?

My quirky dogs bring me great joy! I find peace in being an explorer and wanderer due to my curious nature. I spend most weekends exploring small towns, historical sites, national and state parks, and going on outdoor adventures like rappelling, kayaking, and hiking. I enjoy discovering new foods and breweries. I also love meeting random people from different walks of life and hearing their life stories and what brings them joy. 

What would you like your epitaph to be?

She saw the beauty of life and fought to ensure all people could live a beautiful life. 

In one word, what is it that you want people to remember about you?


Is there anything else you wish I'd asked you?

No. Thank you!