The American dream means we can all achieve economic success and growth for our families - but what is the role of technology in ensuring that dream is available to everyone? This year, we took on two challenges with that question at their core: enabling families to lift themselves up and achieve economic self-sufficiency - building on the groundbreaking Envision Center model championed by HUD, and helping resettled refugees to thrive in the new communities they now call home. Hear from 6 teams who took on these challenges about the solutions they created to support families nationwide, and what they learned in the process by hearing from refugees and families themselves. Featuring speakers from Julius Education, OPS 1, Mapbox & Graphicacy, Georgetown University, SAS, USA Hello, and more.
Lifting Up Families for Economic Success: The Latest in Tech Towards the American Dream
Ja’Ron Smith is Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO).
Ja’Ron was previously at the White House, where he served in several roles, including Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, Deputy Director for the Office of American Innovation, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, and Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Director of Urban Affairs and Revitalization for The White House Domestic Policy Council.
During his tenure at The White House, Ja’Ron authored the Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities in response to the protests around police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Ja’Ron also managed the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council’s response to underserved communities severely affected by COVID-19 by implementing the $60 billion set-aside for the Paycheck Protection Program for minority-owned businesses. He established the Joint Taskforce between FEMA and HHS in order to expand hospital capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and he organized and led the White House Opportunity Now Summit and over 60 roundtables and convenings focused on creating more economic mobility for impoverished communities.
Ja’Ron was a critical force in securing passage of the Formerly Incarcerated Re-Enter Society Transformed – Safely Transitioning Every Person (FIRST STEP) Act of 2018, for which he served as chief White House negotiator. He also served as chief policy strategist for enactment of the “Opportunity Zones” provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Ja’Ron was a key negotiator in helping to secure permanent funding for HBCUs under the FUTURE Act.
Prior to his post at The White House, Ja’Ron worked for Senator Tim Scott and served on the staff of the House Committee on Financial Services, the Republican Study Committee, and the House Republican Conference under then-Rep. Mike Pence. Ja’Ron holds a BBA from Howard University, and a Masters of Divinity from the Howard School of Divinity. He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha.
Collin Stevens is the Directory of Technology for USAHello. He is responsible for technological operations including infrastructure, maintenance, development, deployment, and hosting. He strives to ensure a reliable, user friendly experience for newcomers that helps them easily connect with the resources they need to start their new lives. Collin also focuses on technological strategic planning and the potential for expanding USAHello’s services to countries around the globe. Collin loves to meditate, explore new cultures through travel, and find new ways to use technology to make people’s lives easier. Collin has a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish and brings 20 years of database and software development experience to USAHello, including time spent working on non-profit web applications.