Dan Smith is founder and president of AdvocacySmiths, a strategic consulting firm that works with organizations to forge advocacy programs that lead to lasting, positive changes in public policy. With nearly 30 years’ experience in government, politics, and advocacy, Dan specializes in strategic planning, building organizational capacity, assembling coalitions, facilitating meetings, and leadership development.
Previously, Dan was staff director of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee where he oversaw a broad and diverse portfolio of issues. Major legislation passed during his tenure includes the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which assured final passage of the Affordable Care Act and reformed the nation’s student loan program. He was also instrumental in the successful effort to update the nation’s food safety laws for the first time in more than 70 years. In addition, an investigation of for-profit colleges Dan spearheaded uncovered practices that bilked taxpayers and left students with massive debt and worthless degrees.
Earlier Dan launched and led the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate. Over the course 10 years, Dan transformed a limited advocacy program into a nationwide grassroots powerhouse. Under Dan’s leadership, cancer patients and their families helped secure significant increases in federal investments in cancer research and prevention, expanded access to care, and enacted numerous smoke-free and tobacco tax policies that have reduced smoking-related illness and death. Dan also founded One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), a vital coalition that continues to unite the cancer community to advance its agenda with the federal government.
Dan began his public service career as a state office director and then chief of staff to U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. Senator Harkin later named Dan minority staff director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Dan’s political experience includes managing the Iowa general election campaign for Clinton-Gore in 1992, directing delegate selection for Senator Harkin’s 1992 presidential run, and field organizing for Gore for President in 1988.
Dan was Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Iowa and earned a law degree at Georgetown University. After graduation, he practiced with Leonard, Street and Deinard in Minneapolis. Dan later completed the Executive Development Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. An Iowa native, Dan grew up the youngest of six boys on a fourth generation family farm.