Ahnna Smith

Senior Director

Ahnna joined ESG to lead its efforts to expand opportunity for underserved populations by transforming alignment and partnerships between employers, the workforce development sector, and K-12 and postsecondary college and career readiness investments.

Prior to joining ESG, Ahnna served as the Executive Director of the DC Workforce Investment Council, Washington, DC’s state and local workforce board. During her tenure, she dramatically expanded the role and impact of the agency, aligning the efforts of economic development, education, workforce development, and regional employers, and overseeing a quadrupling of the organization’s budget. Under Ahnna’s leadership the agency launched a citywide career coaching program; developed innovative grants to scale access to high-quality educational and workforce credentials; expanded investments in career pathways and skills-based hiring initiatives; and established partnerships with regional and national business and workforce organizations.

Ahnna brings with her nearly two decades of work in the public sector at the local and national level, and experience as a nonprofit executive and educator. As Chief of Staff for Innovation and Improvement at the US Department of Education, Ahnna provided strategic leadership in policy and operations, personnel, and external communications for an office that managed nearly $1 billion in grant programs in areas including community development, school choice, and education innovation.

Formerly an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Ahnna currently serves on her daughter’s public charter school board of trustees and as a volunteer lacrosse coach for a no cost league that seeks to expose more DC youth to the sport. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in Miami-Dade County Public Schools after earning a degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Why are you in this work?

I believe that while talent is distributed equally, opportunity is not. I have spent my career working to transform systems and advance racial justice to improve the well-being of those furthest from opportunity.

Why ESG?

As a connector of ideas and people, I am excited about the opportunity to solve problems and drive action. ESG operates at the intersection of strategy and execution and is well-positioned to make tangible change in the lives of those served by our work.

Connect with Ahnna

Make contact by email, or follow Ahnna on Twitter.