In the fall of 2016, The Washington Business Journal honored Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance as part of this year’s Women Who Mean Business Awards.
Eshauna often says that she used to believe that she was one of the “lucky ones” who escaped her low-income neighborhood for a better life. But she further recounts her realization that luck had nothing to do with it. She insists that she has become as successful business woman and community leader precisely because adults provided “purposeful and meaningful” support that launched her on a trajectory that has led her to be regularly invited to the CEO tables of the region’s most powerful economic engines, the White House and beyond.
Eshauna has transformed and improved the lives of thousands of under-resourced youth and families in DC and beyond. From the day she graduated high school to the TED Talk she delivered last June to overseeing UA’s expansion today, Eshauna Smith has been a visionary business leader on a trajectory which has impacted the lives of thousands of low-income youth and families. She is a social entrepreneur who grew up in a single-parent household in LA, attended UC Berkley and began her career at the Boys and Girls Club. Since then she has been involved in philanthropy, government, advocacy and service work. Prior to joining Urban Alliance, Eshauna worked as a Senior Policy Advisor in the DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education where she led the development of Raise DC, the District’s first cradle-to-career partnership focused on improving educational and workforce development outcomes for DC youth from 0-24, including the creation of the Pathways for Young Adults training program and a youth re-engagement center which opened in the Fall of 2014.
A national expert on youth employment, Eshauna is a national leader in youth employment. Partnering with Vice President Biden and corporate executives, in 2014, Eshauna organized and led a national conversation on the issue with CEOs at the US Chamber of Commerce, which was covered by C-SPAN. At this event, Eshauna released “Youth Employment Matters,” a policy brief focused on the connection between early work and long-term self-sufficiency. Eshauna has also been involved with the Clinton Global Initiative’s Youth Employment Action Network.
Eshauna is a woman who means Business. She is a role model to young women. And she is living proof that paying it forward is good business indeed.