Speaker Bio – Ben Smilowitz

Ben Smilowitz

After managing a high-volume Red Cross “relief site” and witnessing first-hand the failed Katrina response, Ben founded Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) while in law school. DAP saves lives and reduces suffering after disasters by maximizing the impact of preparedness, response and relief through citizen oversight and engagement, policy research and advocacy, and public education.

DAP’s reports and in-depth investigations after the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, Superstorm Sandy, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster have received global media attention, improved the transparency of hundreds of millions of dollars of donations, resulted in the release of four million dollars for disaster survivors impacted by mismanagement of a Sandy recovery program, and improved preparedness on a local, state, and national level. In 2008, Ben received a highly competitive Echoing Green Fellowship, awarded to social entrepreneurs addressing the root causes of societal challenges by starting new, cutting-edge ventures.

A long-time organizer, Ben passed state legislation (while in high school) to create student seats on the Connecticut State Board of Education. In Missouri, he created and advised a first-ever “Governor’s Youth Cabinet” comprised of high school and college-aged young people from across the state. Ben received a BA in Political Science and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Washington University in St. Louis and his law degree from the University of Connecticut, where he served as President of the Student Bar Association. Instead of taking a Bar exam after graduating, Ben spent a year traveling around the world using air miles. Ben is now a member of the Maryland Bar and lives in Rockville with his wife and two activists-in-training.