Maya Enista Smith

Venture Leader

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Maya Enista Smith has over fifteen years of experience in youth empowerment, civic engagement, and community development. Maya currently works as consultant to non-profits, corporations and philanthropic institutions that tackle urgent issues such as curing cancer, alleviating global poverty and addressing inequity in higher education.

Most recently, served as the first executive director of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which works to support the wellness of young people and empowers them to build a kinder, braver world. Under Maya’s direction, the foundation has spearheaded collaborations with key stakeholders and leveraged relationships with unlikely allies, such as Zappos and Starbucks. Under her leadership, the foundation launched its flagship Teen Mental Health First Aid program with cooperation from the National Council for Behavioral Health as well as its global Kindness In Community Fund.

Previously, Maya served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of, an innovative millennial organization whose mission is to empower and invest in millennials to create and implement solutions to social problems. She began her career as East Coast Coordinator for Rock The Vote, an organization dedicated to building the political power of young people.

For her leadership, Maya has been awarded a Youth Action Net Fellowship, the Independent Sector NGEN American Express Fellowship, Utne Reader’s 50 Visionaries Changing Your World Award, WIN’s Young Women of Achievement Award, and Gelman, Rosenberg + Freedman EXCEL Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management. Maya was also awarded the competitive Prime Movers Fellowship of the Hunt Alternatives Fund and was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar, joining a cohort of bold and principled leaders who are committed to facing critical challenges, both at home and around the world.

Maya currently resides outside of San Francisco with her husband, David, their two children and their dog, Kai.