• India N. Miles

Shani Smith: Organizer, Activist, CEO, and Personal Coach

Shani Smith, Organizer, Activist, CEO, and Personal Coach, is a 15-year veteran of conflict exploration, creating solutions, building lasting relationships, and driving change. Ms. Smith has led the organizing of some of the largest marches and mass demonstrations across the United States, such as The Women’s March on Chicago, The Climate March, Fight for Fifteen, Tax Day March, May Day, and the Anti-Racism march.

Shani has served the last four years in her current role as Organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), while running her own company. She is an expert organizer and event and project manager, with superior skills in both written and oral communication.

Through both work and in her personal time, she coordinates national marches on social issues, holding groups and individuals accountable in the process of relationship building. Transferring problems into clear cut action plans, Ms. Smith tackles larger projects by breaking them down and has a special gift for garnering support needed to bring about project and campaign success.

Ms. Smith has a certificate in Theology and has studied non-violent action under Mary E. King, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the United Nations University of Peace and President of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Ms. Smith also studied under Reverend James Watson, who trained Dr. Martin Luther King and was the lead organizer for the lunch-counter sit-ins.

Ms. Smith began her career as a community activist, having founded Liberate the Southside to fight foreclosure, liberate, and occupy homes, placing displaced families in the homes, fighting banks, and ending house abandonment. She built an action plan for how to strategize and implement direct action to hold elected officials accountable. She further coordinated the safety plan for the March on Chicago, with 250K people in attendance, no safety incidents, and no property damage. Ms. Smith was also a founding member of South-Siders Organized for Unity and Liberation (S.O.U.L) and trained Occupy Wall Street volunteers, strategizing for delaying the ringing of the bell for Wall Street, which led to the shutdown of Zuccotti Park in 2011.

In 20??, Ms. Smith launched Living Nourished, her current company, which teaches self-mastery and accountability, hosting online group sessions and mastermind sessions. Through Living Nourished, she helps black women and women of color identify personal and professional challenges holding them back from the lives they want, teaching them to understand how their current beliefs are serving them and developing action steps to guide them.

The New York Times featured her arrest at Hyatt Regency Hotel while she served as an activist in 2013, and the Chicago Tribune featured an article of her group’s (which group/event?) shutting down of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, stopping the city of Chicago’s TIF money. Her work has also been featured in the book Near 1%, as well as in the book Democracy and Black, highlighting her humanitarian efforts and her fight against economic inequities.

In her spare time, Ms. Smith enjoys story-telling, photography, problem-solving, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Originally from Calumet Heights in Chicago, Illinois, Ms. Smith currently resides in Chicago.

Ms. Smith is driven by the opportunity to pour into black women and women of faith, recognizing the monumental role women have played in her life, having always been the caretakers, community builders, and nurturers. She encourages black women to stand on their story, not their pain, and assures them that the struggles they have encountered make them stronger and prepares them for future fights.

Shani is currently living her dream role in life and in work, and looks forward to continuing to organize people around issues, helping communities build active steps to experiencing what they desire out of life. With aspirations to one day become an elected official, Ms. Smith has always led with love, receiving only as she gives, forgiving and teaching forgiveness in all she does.

Shani Smith can be reached at shani831@hotmail.com

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