Acting Director, Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA)
Jessica (Jess) Smith (she/her) is the Acting Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this capacity, she serves as the Secretary’s principal advisor on strengthening intergovernmental relationships with state, local, territorial and tribal governments as well as private sector, nonprofit, faith-based and other external partners to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s health and human services priorities.
Jess spent many years on Capitol Hill, most recently as Chief of Staff to Sen. Michael Bennet (CO), and as Communications Director for Sen. Jim Webb (VA). Jess served as Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the advocacy organization J Street, and as Managing Director at the global public affairs firm Burson Marsteller.
During her tenure in the Obama-Biden Administration, Jess was Director of External Affairs at FEMA—overseeing the agency’s communications, congressional, intergovernmental and private sector engagement—where she lead the U.S. federal government’s communications and engagement response during Hurricane Sandy. She also helped develop and launch the agency’s FEMA Corps program for young professionals to aid in disaster relief. Jess previously served as a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, focusing on civil and civil rights issues and supporting the work of the 94 U.S. Attorneys.
Jess is a graduate of Cornell University, and calls Washington, DC home. She lives with her husband and their two awesome kids.