Big Ideas Fest Speakers

Maya Enista Smith

Maya Enista Smith

Maya Smith has over a decade of experience in the youth empowerment, civic engagement, and community development fields. Maya proudly serves as the first Executive Director of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation which works to support the wellness of young people and empower them to build a kinder, braver world.


During her tenure, Born This Way Foundation has engaged a diverse array of partners across sectors as well as young people themselves to conduct innovative research, build authentic youth-focused programming, and lead effective campaigns that foster kindness and advance the conversation around mental health.


Previously, Maya served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of, an innovative Millennial organization whose mission is to empower and invest in Millennials to create and implement solutions to social problems. She began her career as East Coast Coordinator for Rock The Vote, an organization dedicated to building the political power of young people.


In addition to her work with Born This Way Foundation, Maya serves on the Board of Directors of Advocates for Youth, Learning To Give, and Give Together. For her leadership, Maya has been awarded a Youth Action Net Fellowship, the Independent Sector NGEN American Express Fellowship, Utne Reader’s 50 Visionaries Changing Your World Award, WIN’s Young Women of Achievement Award, and Gelman, Rosenberg + Freedman EXCEL Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management. Maya was also awarded the competitive Prime Movers Fellowship of the Hunt Alternatives Fund, a multi-year fellowship program for emerging and established social movement leaders working at the national level.


Maya, very proud of her Jersey roots, grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey and attended Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She currently resides outside of San Francisco with her husband, David, their two children and their black lab, Hudson.