James E. Smith Jr.
Executive Director of Military Programs and Strategies
Service History: After 9/11 and serving for eight years as a JAG officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard, James resigned and then reenlisted to pursue a commission as an infantry officer. James is currently a major and assigned to the Joint Operations Center, South Carolina Joint Forces Command. James served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan with the 218th Infantry Brigade, where he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. He was recognized by his peers in 2016 when he was the first to be awarded the University of South Carolina Veterans Alumni Council’s Distinguished Service Award. In 2018, James was inducted as one of only two majors into the Palmetto Military Academy Hall of Fame.
Education/Major(s): BA in Political Science (1990) and JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law (1995)
James began his legal career as an associate at the firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough in September 1995. In November 1996, James began a solo practice and currently is the sole shareholder of his firm, James E. Smith, Jr., P.A.
James was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in November 1996. In his first year of service he was elected to the position of assistant minority house leader. James served in the position for three years before becoming the chief minority whip. James was then elected house minority leader and served from 2002 until 2005. James was reelected for 11 terms, serving 22 years.
James has served on various nonprofit boards and has volunteered with numerous civic groups including service as a fellow — Liberty Fellowship; affiliated with the Aspen Global Leadership Initiative; a fellow with the Riley Institute; chair for the Public Policy Committee of the United Way's Success By 6 initiative; SC First Steps board member; Prevent Child Abuse, SC, board member; Alston Wilkes Society board member; and Red Cross board member and is currently serving as a board member of the Congaree Riverkeeper, Friends of The Edisto and Nickelodeon.