Founder and Chief Equity Officer
A native son of Atlanta Georgia, Nathaniel Smith has been passionate about racial equity from the very
beginning. As the child of Southern Freedom Movement Activists, his experiences observing many of the
historical injustices and inequalities placed on people from underserved communities was the driving
motivation to create a platform that would not only expose these inequities, but also bring the issue of
racial equity to a larger scale, bring together groups and individuals to develop real solutions, and address
these inequities in our communities so prosperity can be created and shared by all.
In founding the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE), and as its Chief Equity Officer, Smith works to
advance racial equity through an equity agenda, which advances just outcomes that are sensitive to the
needs and circumstances of communities – erasing the barriers that stand in the way of success to create
the conditions that enable just and fair inclusion into a society in which all people can participate, prosper
and reach their full potential.
As a leader, Smith’s philosophy is to put individuals and communities first. While very deliberate about
“moving the needle” when it comes to racial equity, he is a consensus builder and a strong believer in a
transparency of process that moves at the speed of trust. This fundamental philosophy has transformed
PSE into the premier organization in the country that focuses solely on racial equity, through its
portfolios of Just Energy, Just Growth, Just Health, Just Opportunity, Just Solutions, and frontline
community organizers who build the civic bench strength for advancing racial equity.
Under Smith’s leadership, PSE created the South’s first equity-mapping tool, the Metro Atlanta Equity
Atlas (now the Metro Atlanta Racial Equity Atlas), and led a coalition of diverse stakeholders to support
a $13 million transit referendum that expanded MARTA into a new county for the first time in 45 years.
PSE continues to support the racial equity ecosystem through the COVID-19 pandemic through its
COVID-19 Rapid Relief Fund, which distributed more than $500,000 to more than 30 organizations
because of the initial investment of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the United Way
of Greater Atlanta.
Smith’s leadership was instrumental in partnering with several organizations to create the Justice40
Accelerator, designed to provide organizations with innovative front-line community climate projects the
assistance to better position them to pursue and win federal funding, and to hold accountable the BidenHarris Administration’s executive order to direct 40% of federal climate action funds to disadvantaged
Smith’s accomplishments as a racial equity champion throughout the American South has earned him
numerous awards and distinctions, including being named to the Grist 50 by Grist Magazine in 2018 and
the Atlanta 500 by Atlanta Magazine 2019-2021 and designated one of the 100 “Most Influential
Georgians” by Georgia Trend magazine 2018-2021. His recent accomplishments include being named an
inaugural recipient of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality award, and being
named co-chair of the Drawdown Georgia Leadership Council, which addresses climate change in
Georgia through the intersection of climate and equity. He was also honored by the Georgia House of
Representatives with a special proclamation recognizing his tireless efforts toward advancing racial
Smith’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including U.S. News and World Report,
Chronicle of Philanthropy, where he was named one of “15 People Changing the Nonprofit World”,
Nonprofit Quarterly, Atlanta Magazine, where he was named one of “Atlanta’s Power 500”, The Hill,
Christian Science Monitor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Voice and many others.