Heather Smith is president of Rock the Vote, which seeks to engage and build political power for young people in our country. Founded twenty-three years ago at the intersection of popular culture and politics, Rock the Vote has registered more than five million young people to vote and has become a trusted source of information for young people about registering to vote and casting a ballot. Rock the Vote uses music, popular culture, new technologies and grassroots organizing to motivate and mobilize young people in our country to participate in every election, with the goal of seizing the power of the youth vote to create political and social change. Visit RockTheVote.com for more information.
Under Smith's leadership, Rock the Vote built new tools and technologies and refined best practices for the continued engagement of young voters, setting the highest voter registration records in both midterm and presidential elections in the organization's history.
Prior to Rock the Vote, Smith founded and directed Young Voter Strategies, a nonpartisan project in partnership with The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Young Voter Strategies provided the general public, political parties, candidates, consultants and non-profits with data and research on the youth vote as well as best practices to effectively mobilize young people.
In 2004, Smith served as national field director for the Student PIRG’s New Voters Project, the largest nonpartisan grassroots effort ever undertaken to register and mobilize young voters. Prior to her work at the New Voters Project, Smith was an organizing director for Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing in Boston.
Smith has served as a youth vote expert appearing on MSNBC, CBS ‘Washington Unplugged,’ Fox News, and CNN, in addition to writing for and being quoted in publications such as Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, National Journal, The Hill, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, The Washington Post, POLITICO, The Atlantic, and more.
Smith received a B.A. with honors in Economics and Public Policy from Duke University. In 2006, Smith was named one of Campaign & Elections magazine’s Rising Stars for her work with young voters. She was also named one of Esquire Magazine’s Best and Brightest of 2007. Smith serves on the national advisory board for Duke University’s DukeEngage program. And recently published the afterword for Electoral Dysfunction, the companion book to the documentary hosted by Mo Rocca.