The HBCU Experience: Chris Smith, National Democratic Strategist, Tennessee State University


In anticipation for “The HBCU Experience: Tennessee State University” book, we got the chance to interview TSU alumnus and change agent Chris Smith. Check it out!


Randall: Tell us about yourself!

Chris Smith: I am Chris Smith, a national democratic strategist and president of Campaign Engineers. I have worked for some of the biggest campaigns in the past few years including serving as Deputy Campaign Manager for Stacey Abrams and Senior Advisor for Andrew Gillum’s primary governor’s races. I have worked in all 50 states and my client list includes Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Harry Reid, Congressman Chuy Garcia and numerous state and local candidates.   

Randall: How did you end up at your University/College?

Chris Smith: I was recruited to Tennessee State University on a track scholarship and passed up offers from other ACC and SEC universities after my visit to my university.

Randall: What did you get your degree in? Did it support what you are doing now?

Chris Smith: I received my degree in Political Science but spent my initial years engineering. Major. I believe both disciplines had great impact on the work that I am doing now.

Randall: Can you give me a quick description of your years in college? (Freshman-Senior)

Freshman Year – Spent most of my time on the track and Greek weeks

Sophomore Year – I served as Mr. Honors Program. I was able to serve as an ambassador for the university getting to meet many people who would influence my college career such as Julian Bond, VP Al Gore and Congressman John Lewis. 

Junior Year – I became very involved in organizations at the University including the SEC, the group that ran all student elections.

Senior Year – Pledged Alpha Theta Chapter, Kappa Alpha Psi Inc.

Randall: What year would you consider as your success year?

Chris Smith: I think my success year was probably my spring of sophomore year that allowed me to really understand that there were many opportunities to take advantage of if you just got involved and networked with other students as well as university programs.  

Randall: How did you start working in your current position?


Chris Smith: I started working in politics by accident. I was at a very low level role knocking doors during the Gore election and had a chance encounter with Donna Brazile and she connected me to my first role as a college organizer. 

Randall: Did you expect to be in the position you are in today? 

Chris Smith: I never saw myself running National campaigns, I assumed I would be working at NASA as an engineer. I am not sure many people are even aware that this can be a pretty well-paid career and part of my mission is to create a pipeline of trained operatives of color. I am exited to have mentored many young black operatives including CNN Commentator and Biden 2020 senior advisor Symone Sanders.

Randall: How do you feel your HBCU experience at……. aid you in your success?

Chris Smith: My HBCU, The Tennessee State University is my community and extended family. I can always count on my TSU alum to support me and my projects. The university also created an ability to succeed in spite whatever obstacles might be present. It also provided plenty of success stories so that I could see examples like myself come from the same background as I and still succeed.  

Randall: What’s next on your journey?

Chris Smith: My next journey will be focused on taking all the “Campaign Lessons” from national operatives and sharing masterclass lessons with organizers, movement workers and volunteers of any campaign or issue. 

Randall: Tell us about “The HBCU Experience: Tennessee State University”?

Our book is a collection of stories that share the impact and influence of Tennessee State University from some of its successful alum from different eras. 

Randall: Where can we find you on social media?

@CSmithATL  – IG

@Cmith0206 – Twitter

I can reached at and somewhere influencing this 2020 presidential election cycle making sure that communities of color are not left out of the process.  







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