Mike Smith1 is PARSA’s Board of Directors Chairman, as of November 2015. He has practiced law for forty years and, beginning in 2003, he has worked for and in Afghanistan, primarily on a pro bono basis. That work has included:
-Leading a team which helped draft a new labor and employment law code for the new Islamic Republic of Afghanistan government
-Successfully defending the Afghan government in lawsuits filed in the U.S. by victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998
-Participating as member of a team of attorneys who represented Afghans imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Cuba and elsewhere
-Living in Kabul while serving as the General Counsel for the American University of Afghanistan
-Working on an international trade project funded by USAID
-Assisting an American company obtain an opinion from the Afghan Ministry of Justice that Afghan labor and employment law code does not apply to U.S. nationals working in Afghanistan on U.S. Department of Defense contracts
-Volunteering to assist Rotary International’s Polio Plus Project, which in partnership with the Gates Foundation, UNICEF, World Health Organization, and other organizations and foreign governments, eradicated that dreaded disease in all but 2 nations-Afghanistan and Pakistan
-Being elected to the Board of Directors of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce
-Speaking at conferences which focused on the economic, security, and political situation in Afghanistan
In the course of those activities, Mike learned about PARSA and its leadership’s vision and uniquely effective work in Afghanistan. In 2015, Mike gladly accepted Executive Director Marnie Gustavson’s invitation to join PARSA’s Board of Directors and has been selected to serve as its Chair. Mike looks forward to utilizing the knowledge, experience, and relationships which he has developed to advance PARSA’s efforts to empower Afghans to help themselves and the most vulnerable members of their communities.
Mike has held leadership positions in the American Bar Association, received recognition for his pro bono work, and was elected by his peers to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers based on his success and contributions to the legal profession.
Mike graduated from Colgate University and earned a JD from the University of Chicago Law School and a Masters of Law Degree from the Georgetown University Law School. He has served in the United States Marine Corps.