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Jeff Smith Keynote Speaker

Jeff Smith

Former Politician, Writer
As a former politician who has spent a year in prison, Jeff Smith's speeches advocate for the rights and equality of past offenders.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Jef Smith attended the University of North Carolina and graduated with a double major in African-American Studies and Political Science as well as a MA and Ph.D in the latter from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2004, he ran for a position in the Democratic party and although he lost, his campaign became widely known for its grassroots approach. In the same year, he submitted a false document to the Federal Election Commission and in 2009, he was convicted on two counts of obstruction of justice and spent a year in prison. There, he encountered -- contrary to his and popular belief -- multiple business-minded inmates that were former drug dealers.

Despite the different terminology and jargon these inmates used, Jeff Smith discovered many ingenious minds in prison that are, as he claims, as business savvy as the CEOs he wined and dined with. In an attempt to help his prison mates have an opportunity to a fresh start, Jeff Smith's speeches emphasize the lack of equality in the system and hopes that employers will give these ambitious individuals a second chance.