Ben Smilowitz witnessed the bungled Hurricane Katrina response while managing a high-volume Red Cross Client Service Center in Gulfport, MS. In his first year of law school, Ben started the Disaster Accountability Project to confront the root causes of the failed Katrina response.
After the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Ben expanded DAP’s focus to improve the effectiveness of billions of dollars raised after disasters by humanitarian aid/relief organizations through greater operational transparency and linking the distribution of post-disaster resources to each organization’s capacity to deliver critical services.
In August 2008, Ben and the Disaster Accountability Project received a highly competitive Echoing Green Fellowship, awarded to social entrepreneurs addressing the root causes of societal challenges by starting new, cutting-edge ventures. Since founding DAP, Ben has raised over one half million dollars of in-kind and probono support and the group’s reports have been covered by The New York Times, Washington Post, Al Jazeera English and Fox News.
Ben Smilowitz grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut and was using the internet to organize high school students around the U.S. before he learned to drive. In 1998, Ben passed state legislation to create seats for students on the Connecticut State Board of Education and in 2002, created a Governor’s Youth Cabinet for the State of Missouri. After spending a year working with social entrepreneurs at Ashoka’s Youth Venture, Ben worked on the successful campaign to save Social Security’s safety-net from privatization.
Now a member of the Maryland Bar, Ben received a BA in Political Science and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Washington University in St. Louis and his J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he served as President of the Student Bar Association.