Deborah Smolover, J.D.

Managing Partner, New Profit

Deborah S. Smolover is a Managing Partner of New Profit and leads New Profit’s policy work, advocating for more innovative, effective, and efficient policy solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems affecting access to opportunity in America.

Deb also serves as the Executive Director of America Forward, New Profit’s nonpartisan policy initiative. America Forward’s mission is to unite social entrepreneurs with policymakers and advance a public policy agenda that fosters innovation, rewards results, and catalyzes cross-sector partnerships. Deb advances this vision through the leadership of the America Forward Coalition, a network of more than 70 social innovation organizations achieving measurable outcomes in more than 14,500 communities nationwide and driving progress in education, workforce development, early learning, poverty alleviation, public health, pay for success, national service, and criminal justice reform. Together, the America Forward community has leveraged over $1.5 billion for social innovation and has driven millions of federal resources toward programs achieving measurable results for those who need them most.

Deb is deeply interested in how the public, philanthropic, nonprofit, and private sectors can best leverage their resources and expertise to address intractable social problems and transform local results into national change. Prior to joining New Profit, Deb served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Counsel to Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. While at DOJ, Deb ran the multi-agency, multi-disciplinary Children Exposed to Violence Initiative and the Public Private Partnership Initiative. She came to her leadership position at DOJ from a distinguished career as an award-winning federal prosecutor handling high profile criminal and civil cases across the country, and made the move from trials to policy work when she became convinced that prevention and intervention strategies were vital to breaking the cycle of violence, the school to prison pipeline, and many other social problems. Deb has also served in leadership roles at numerous nonprofits and foundations, including Turnaround for Children, the Yale University Child Study Center/National Center for Children Exposed to Violence, the I Am Your Child Foundation, and the We are Family Foundation.

Deb is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College. She has taught courses including American Government and Policy, White Collar Crime, and Law and Writing at colleges and law schools in Massachusetts and DC. She is a sought-after public speaker on issues relating to children exposed to violence; she has published numerous articles on innovation in education reform, juvenile justice policy, and law enforcement/mental health partnerships; and she serves on the boards of a number of national social innovation and social justice organizations, including New Profit’s portfolio organization Third Sector Capital Partners.
Deb leads the America Forward team out of New Profit’s DC office. Outside the office, Deb enjoys making music, hiking mountains, and, most of all, savoring the magic of everyday moments with her husband and two children.


What would you say are the most surprising things about you?

My husband and I met performing in a Klezmer musical in DC, and we once won a Virginia Latin ballroom dance competition.

What is your favorite quote?

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

Favorite place in the entire world?

Crater Lake at the base of the Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado