Jim Smith's love affair with Boulder and the CWA began more than a decade ago, though the annual pilgrimage to connect with old friends and new ideas was put on hold for four years. During that time, as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he saw some of the most far-reaching changes in the region's history. On his return in October 2013, he joined The Cohen Group, an international consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Previously, he worked for Raytheon in a variety of executive positions.
Smith has also had a distinguished military career, retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general. His aviation career included 4,000 hours in the F-15 and T-38 and combat sorties during Desert Storm, the command of the 18th Fighter Wing, the 325th Operations Group, and the 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron. His staff postings included deputy for operations at the North American Air Defense Command, Air Force chair and professor of national security at the National War College, and commander of the Joint Warfighting Center, Joint Forces Command.
Smith is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a BS in military history, and a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, the Naval War College, and the National War College. He also received an MA in history from Indiana University. He is married to CWA panelist Janet Breslin-Smith, and they have four children, the youngest of whom graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder.